As someone who has been in the personal finance field for five years, I knew I still had a lot to learn. While I’ve been able to learn a lot from writing about topics ranging from paying off debt to buying a house, I felt like pursuing the AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor) designation would help me deepen my knowledge. In short, I’m happy I made the decision to sign up.

If you’re considering pursuing the AFC® yourself or are just getting started in your journey, here are some common questions you may encounter.  

How Much Time Do I Need to Devote to Studying?

In my experience, this depends on how much you already know about personal finance or counseling topics. The more you already know about relevant topics, the less time you may need to absorb the material. 

For example, I’m someone who writes about debt and loan topics in depth for a number of clients. As I’m quite knowledgeable about these topics, I don’t have to spend as much time on them. However, taxes and counseling topics aren’t my forte so I’m finding that I’m going back and reviewing studying materials more in these areas. 

What’s the Best Way to Go About Pursuing My Experience Hours?

There are so many ways to gain experience hours which is great since you can pick what piques your interest. Personally, I’m interested in learning new ways to develop teaching materials that incorporates finances from a holistic perspective, so I’ve reached out to professionals who have the AFC® designation to help them develop materials. That way, I can learn what they’re doing to help their clients. 

Think about what you want to do after you get certified and go from there. Feel free to reach out to AFCPE’s certification program manager for ideas or whether what you have in mind counts as experience hours.

What Are Some Challenges to Pursuing the AFC® Designation?

For those who are pursuing the AFC® outside of their jobs or aren’t already in the finance industry, a lot of what you’ll learn can seem intimidating. Plus, as a busy working mother, I sometimes find it challenging to fit in time to study and pursue my experience hours. However, depending on how you’re earning your certification, feel free to spread it out as long as you need, assuming you meet your deadlines. 

What Can I Gain From Getting the AFC®  Designation?

There are many benefits from earning your AFC® designation: a new career path, knowledge on how to help your clients better and insights on how personal finance can be seen from a holistic point of view. Many professionals even go on to get other certifications to serve clients who need more specific help, like housing counseling or those who want a professional to help them with their investing concerns.

No matter the reason, it’s important to set some initial goals and intentions on what you want to get out of it. I know it’s helped me to focus my efforts on deepening my knowledge so that I can someday help clients who need my help the most. 

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