Navigating the AFC®
Welcome to the Navigating the AFC Guide!
The path to becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor can vary from candidate to candidate. We’ve created this guide to help you determine your path, stay on track, and access important resources. Use this page with your myAFCPE Dashboard on your journey to certification.
We wish you the best on your journey and please reach out if you need support. We are here to support you!
-AFCPE Certification Department
This page displays information and resources for AFC candidates. If you are enrolled in the AFC Canada (AFCC) program, please visit the OACCS website for additional information.
All candidates must complete four requirements to complete the AFC program: Education, Experience, Exam, and Ethics. We like to refer to these as “The Four E’s.” See below for information on each requirement.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the AFC Candidate Handbook. This guide outlines the requirements of certification and your responsibilities as a candidate.
There are no prerequisites or degree requirements in pursuing the AFC, but all candidates must satisfy one of our education pathways:
- Self-Paced Study
- Financial Education Challenge
- Professional Designation Challenge
- Registered Education Program
- Degree Seeking
- Non-degree Seeking
For more information on the AFC education pathways, click here.
Education Office Hours
Looking for some added support in your studies? Have a question from your study materials? Be sure to take advantage of our Education Office Hours. Office hours are free for all candidates and are held twice per month.
AFC Webinar Review
The Webinar Review is designed to provide a review of the AFC Core Competencies. Candidates who purchase the review will have access to all live reviews, and a library of recorded reviews, for the duration of their candidacy. Whether you choose to attend live or view the recorded sessions, the Webinar Review will give you confidence and clarity as you prepare for the AFC exam.
AFC Online Study Guide
The AFC Online Study Guide is designed to help you structure your studies and practice your knowledge. The study guide is included with our Self-Study Pathway and is available for purchase by candidates enrolled in other pathways.
Access the study guide through your myAFCPE Dashboard.
All candidates, regardless of pathway, must pass the AFC exam as a part of their certification program.
Candidates will pay the exam fee via their myAFCPE Dashboard to be eligible to schedule their exam.
The AFC exam is provided by PSI. Visit their website to find a testing center near you.
For more information, check out the resources below or visit our AFC Exam FAQs page.
To ensure we are upholding the highest standards, all AFC candidates must demonstrate comprehension of the Core Competencies by passing the exam. The AFC Exam Guide is one of the resources available to help you prepare for your exam. This guide will help you develop a strategy for studying and answer many of the questions you may have.
We recommend attending the AFC Exam Webinar as early in your candidacy as possible. This webinar will provide you an overview of how the exam is developed, what to expect on exam day, and strategies for developing a study plan.
AFCPE is proud to deliver a certification program guided by research, rooted in academia, and supported by industry experts. To be sure our education pathways and exam represent the knowledge needed to serve clients, we conduct a regular job analysis survey of financial counselors and educators. From this we determine the AFC Core Competencies. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these competencies as they provide an outline of the exam content.
Exam Code of Conduct
All candidates must abide by the AFCPE Certification Exam Code of Conduct. Exam misconduct can occur before, during, or after administration of the exam. Candidates are not permitted to discuss the specifics of the exam or solicit specific exam details from others.
Accommodations & International Exams
AFCPE and PSI comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with a disability covered by the ADA. Verification of the disability and a statement of the specific type of assistance needed must be made in writing at least 45 calendar days before your desired examination date by completing the Request for Special Examination Accommodations form posted to the Candidate Resources page in the myAFCPE Dashboard. For more information, see the AFC Candidate Handbook.
Candidates who will be testing internationally should contact AFCPE at email@example.com at least 45 days prior to their preferred testing date. AFCPE will work with PSI to coordinate the scheduling of the exam. For more information, see the AFC Candidate Handbook.
AFC candidates with an enrollment date of 1/1/2023 or later may test at an international location if they have a military affiliation. AFC candidates without a military affiliation may need to travel to the United States to sit for the AFC exam. AFCPE cannot guarantee international testing for candidates without a military affiliation enrolled on or after 1/1/2023.
Candidates must obtain 1,000 experience hours and submit a verification form to complete their experience requirement*.
Experience opportunities may include:
- Financial counseling, coaching, and education
- Personal financial planning and tax preparation
- Developing curriculum, presentations, or other educational materials
- Managing financial counselors/programs
- Training, webinars, and coursework
See the Experience Guide for more details.
*FINRA Foundation Fellows’ experience assignment may differ.
All AFC candidates must meet an experience requirement before their program deadline. We have outlined a number of ways to earn experience hours in the Experience Guide. Candidates may include experience from 7 years preceding their enrollment date and have up to 3 years to complete the program.
All candidates must submit an experience verification form once they have met their experience requirement. Candidates should complete the appropriate section(s) of the form depending on the source of their experience hours.
The Experience Portal is a place for AFCPE Members to find volunteer opportunities and internships that may qualify for experience hours. Members can access the Experience Portal through their myAFCPE Dashboard.
Not yet a member? Check out all our Member Benefits. Candidates qualify for a reduced membership rate.
AFCPE is committed to maintaining the highest standard of professionalism and ethical behavior.
Candidates must sign the AFCPE Code of Ethics prior to certification and annually thereafter to renew their certification. This signature represents a personal and professional commitment to ethical action.
All AFCPE-certified professionals must also adhere to the Standards of Practice.
Code of Ethics
Candidates will sign the Code of Ethics electronically in their myAFCPE Dashboard prior to earning their certification. You will be asked to resign the Code of Ethics annually when paying your certification fee.
Standards of Practice
A valid certification program needs to be recognized as holding the highest standards for entry and ongoing certification. The AFCPE Executive Board has approved the following Standards of Practice. All AFCPE certified professionals must adhere to the following standards.
AFC candidates come from varying backgrounds and education pathways. Every candidate’s path will not look the same. You can use the resources below to create a plan that works for you.
Creating a Study Plan
The key to developing a successful study plan will be developing an effective and efficient plan that works for your life and learning style.
Successful candidates will create a plan with clearly defined goals and milestones. Remember to build in some flexibility for what life throws at you and don’t forget to reward yourself along the way.
Here are some tips to help you create a study plan:
- Decide when you’d like to test and work backwards to establish a schedule. Use the AFC Study Planner to help you out.
- Build in time for review at the end of your study plan.
- Review the AFC Core Competencies to understand what is covered on the AFC exam.
- Commit to a regular study schedule to create accountability for yourself.
- Consistent studying over time will provide better results than sporadic or cram studying.
- Ask yourself if your study sessions are effective and efficient. Find ways to engage the material and don’t study for too long in one sitting.
- Check out our How to Study for Exams webinar. This is a free sample of AFCPE Member content.
Resources to Get Started With:
Check out the resources below to help you on your journey to AFC certification.
Not just another networking opportunity: AFCPE Membership is the place to find your people.
Join AFCPE Membership for added benefits and opportunities. Candidates enjoy a discounted membership rate.
- Free webinars you can use for experience hours
- Monthly virtual meet-ups to connect and network with others in the field
- Discounts on the AFC exam, Symposium, and more
- Access to the Experience Portal where candidates can browse opportunities for experience hours
Visit AFCPE Membership for more information.
Real Money, Real Experts Podcast
Real Money, Real Experts is a personal finance podcast written and produced by AFCPE. With an audience of financial professionals, we strive to educate and entertain with a combination of expert tips, engaging interviews, and real-life storytelling.
- Covering real stories about how professionals like you are impacting their clients
- Offering tips from real experts on how to improve client interactions and grow your business
*Not approved for AFC experience hours/CEUs.
Maintaining Your Certification
To keep your hard-earned certification in good standing, you will need to pay your annual certification fee and be sure to meet your continuing education requirements.
- For an overview of requirements, see our Guide to Maintaining Your Certification.
- For specific information on Continuing Education Units (CEUs) see the CEU Guide.
- AFCPE Membership is an affordable and efficient way to earn your CEUs.
- Visit our Career Center for information on career paths and job postings.
- Continue your learning with AFCPE Essentials Courses.
Still have questions? We are here to support you!
For general certification questions:
For study material or review questions:
For exam questions:
For membership inquiries:
For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.