Certified Public Finance Officer

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) created the Certificated Public Finance Officer certification program in 1997. It is a self-study program designed to standardize the core knowledge needed for government finance with a focus on best practices and latest trends.

To achieve the CPFO designation, a candidate must meet the eligibility requirements and successfully complete a series of certification exams. The eligibility requirements are summarized below. 
1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. 
2. Accept and observe the GFOA Code of Professional Ethics. 
3. Be employed primarily by a government (or if unemployed, most recently employed by a government and actively seeking employment.) 
4. Have a minimum of three years of experience with a government as the primary employer (at least 32 hours per week.) 
5. Be an active member or eligible to be an active member of GFOA.

While there are five eligibility requirements to receive the designation, only the first two must be met to take the certification exams. The five exams must be successfully completed within seven years. Each exam is comprised of 175 multiple choice questions with 3-1/2 hours to complete. A candidate must achieve at least 75 percent to pass. The exams cover the following subjects: 
• governmental accounting, auditing, and financial reporting; 
• operating and capital budgeting; 
• debt management; 
• treasury and investment management; and, 
• retirement and benefits, risk management, and procurement.

Candidates can find a complete list of exam host sites and register to take an exam at www.gfoa.org.

The exams are based primarily on a suggested reading list. CPFO candidates can purchase the publications from the GFOA at a 50 percent discount.  For more complete information on the CPFO program, please refer to the 2017 Candidates Guide to becoming a Certified Public Finance Officer, which can also be found at www.gfoa.org.

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