The Year of the Dragon

Enduring a lengthy unemployment stint and the subsequent job search last year got me thinking long term about my career. I had become burned out working in information technology as a web developer but make a good living doing it. You hear lots of people saying they don't like their jobs for one reason or another. But you also hear about dream jobs and "doing what you love". Jennifer got a degree in a field that she loves - art education. It doesn't mean she's automatically going to find a job , but it got me thinking "what do I love and can I make a career out of it?" Back when I first started college I thought I wanted a job in broadcasting, but found out it's only fun as a hobby, not as a career. I jumped on the IT bandwagon and never looked back-until now. The reality is most hobbies don't translate well into careers. Having a family, being the sole income earner for the next few years, having a mortgage and facing the reality of paying Jennifer's student loan debt for at least the next decade presents a massive roadblock to a career change. But that doesn't mean I can't prepare for it. I read the free daily news publication Express on the subway on my commute. Most of the ads are for higher education institutions touting their graduate degree and certification programs. The majority are MBA or international relations programs that don't interest me. But one caught my eye - the University of Virginia's Certificate in Certified Financial Planning. It's a classroom instruction program taught during the week in the evening at their satellite campus in Falls Church, VA which is just a few subway stops away from my house. Personal finance is one of my two main hobbies (the other being poker) and the only one of the two that I could legitimately turn into a career. One of my close friends did it. The program is a pay-as-you-go program and reasonably affordable so I can pay for it out of my pocket and not have to get financial aid. The program consists of seven classes that can be completed in 18 months. I applied to the program and registered for my first course, the intro fundamentals class. I had my first class last night.

To become a CFP one must:

  1. Complete the education requirement - complete a CFP Board registered education program and have a bachelors degree from an accredited university. The UVA CFP program is registered with CFP Board. I have a bachelors degree from Georgia State.
  2. Pass the CFP Certification Exam - that's what I'm taking the courses for!
  3. Meet the experience requirement - At least three years of qualifying full-time work experience are required for certification. Qualifying experience includes work that can be categorized into one of the six primary elements of the personal financial planning process. I don't have any work experience in any of the six primary elements, but I hope to start gaining that experience later this year.
  4. Pass a background check - It shouldn't be a problem for me as I've held multiple government security clearances over my career.
  5. Pay the certification fee - of course!

I'm looking forward to my new career in financial planning. However, I'm not letting my IT career fall by the wayside while I'm still in the industry. My company has a great education and training program. Every employee gets $3000 per year towards work related training. I signed up for two ColdFusion courses last year but both were cancelled due to low enrollment. Turns out I was the only one enrolled in both! This year I've signed up for a Java programming class. Hopefully that won't be cancelled. I'm going to be busy learning this year. I haven't been busy learning in a long time. I'm up for the challenge.