How To Start a Career as a Financial Advisor

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Working as a financial advisor can be rewarding, both financially and emotionally. You will get to help people make informed decisions about how to handle their money, and you'll be paid well to do so. However, the competition is fierce - so you need to prepare yourself by getting the proper education and training. With the right credentials, you'll be on your way to a successful career as a financial advisor.

Education Requirements

Most financial firms that hire financial advisors require at least a bachelor's degree. A master's degree is preferred. It is best if your major is related to finance or business. Some companies will hire financial advisor trainees without a college degree if they have several years of related work experience. However, you will have a much better chance of landing a job as a financial advisor if you have a bachelor's degree.

Training Programs

You’ll find that many major financial institutions have their own in-house training program for financial advisors. The training offered varies from one company to another, and can last up to three years. This consists of several weeks to a few months of test preparation and intensive training followed by a period of employment as a financial advisor trainee. After the initial training has been completed, the company will provide ongoing support to help the trainee manage his or her accounts.

Licensing Requirements

Most companies will require that you take and pass the Series 7 and Series 66 exams before working with clients. Other licenses may be required as well. For example, you may need specific licenses to sell life and health insurance or annuities. Keep in mind that if you are hired as a financial advisor trainee, you will not be expected to have these licenses before you start. The training provided by the company includes study materials and test preparation for any licensing they will expect you to have.

Financial Advisor Certification

Certification is not necessary to get started in a career as a financial advisor, but completing the qualifications for a CFA designation could give you an edge when it comes to career advancement opportunities. In addition, if you want to work independently someday, then having a certification can help you win the trust of prospective clients.

In order to earn the CFA designation, you must complete the CFA program offered by the CFA Institute. To qualify for enrollment in the program, you must have a bachelor's degree or four years of qualified work experience. After completing these requirements, there are three levels of exams that you must pass to receive the CFA designation.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of $73,150 for a financial analyst is more than twice the median wage in the U.S. Because of the high wages, the job market in this field can be very competitive. The Department of Labor predicts a growth rate of 20% from 2008 to 2018, due to the increasing number and complexity of investment options.


When you help your clients earn a good return on their money, you'll feel good knowing that your advice gave them the power to choose the best investment options to help them reach their financial goals. That is the kind of job satisfaction you can expect when you embark on a career as a financial advisor.


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