Financial Advisor Education Requirements and Career Info
Career placement and advancement opportunities for advisors can vary greatly. Some financial advisors are self-employed, operating their own firms or working as personal consultants. Others work at brokerage firms or banks, where they earn a salary and may receive performance bonuses.
Becoming a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a good way to earn professional credentials and expand advancement opportunities. Certification is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to advisors with professional experience in their field. Certification prerequisites include three years of experience, a bachelor's degree and passing the board's examination.
Besides certification, many advisors advance their careers by specializing in certain financial areas, such as real estate, securities, estate planning and insurance. Those who do specialize tend to earn more than advisors who offer general services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall median salary for personal financial advisors in 2015 was $89,160. Advisors who specialized in securities and commodity contracts intermediation and
brokerage earned a mean annual salary of $130,670, while advisors who worked in other financial investment activities had a mean annual wage of $125,580 a year.
Depending on state requirements, some financial advisors may be required to obtain some form of licensure. Advisers who buy or sell various commodities such as stocks, bonds and securities on the behalf of their clients may also need licenses. Those that sell insurance are usually required to obtain licensing or register with their state of residence.
While you might only need a bachelor's degree to become a financial advisor, you can increase your chances of employment as well as your stature in the industry by earning a master's degree. Although in many cases professional certification is voluntary and beneficial, if you're going to deal with securities, insurance or stocks, certification through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is mandatory. As of 2014, roughly only one out of five personal financial advisors was self-employed.