Financial Advisor Certification and Education Programs

Financial advisors help people plan for their retirement, aid businesses in managing employee benefits and calculate risks for investors. Learn about the degree programs that could get you a job as well as additional requirements and certification. Schools offering Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Coursework Should I Take?

If you're just beginning your academic career, enrolling in a bachelor's degree program is your first step. You can choose any field of study, but an undergraduate degree in business, finance, economics or accounting provides good preparation. It's also a good idea to take courses related to finance, taxes, investing and risk management. Some examples include:

  • Principles of financial planning
  • Insurance and risk management
  • Investments
  • Income tax planning
  • Estate planning
  • International finance

Some schools offer master's degree programs in financial advising that provide more in-depth coursework to better prepare you for employment after graduation. While a bachelor's degree is generally the basic requirement for financial advisors, a graduate degree, along with certification, is often preferred by employers.

Common Courses Risk management, investments, estate planning, financial planning, international finance
Certification Options CFP optional certification is available
Certification Requirements Pass exam, complete three years of supervised full-time work experience, agree to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards' Code of Ethics
Online Availability Fully online degree programs are available
Median Salary (2018) $127,990 (for all financial managers
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 19% growth (for all financial managers)   

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Certification is Required?

Certification for financial advisors is available but not required. If you are interested in advancing your career, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification may be for you. An aspiring CFP must pass a comprehensive exam that covers many topics of financial planning, such as the financial planning process, the code of ethics, investment theory, financial statement analysis and cash flow management. Next, they must complete a minimum of three years full-time work experience under the supervision of an experienced CFP. The final step of the CFP certification process is to agree to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards' code of ethics.

Are there any Distance Learning Programs?

Some schools offer bachelor's and master's degrees fully online. You take the same courses that you would take in an on-campus program, but you complete assignments and exams online. Distance learning programs require self-discipline and time management skills, because you are responsible for your own study schedule. Technical requirements generally include access to a computer with an Internet connection.

There is no option to take the exam for the CFP certification online at this time. The exam is administered at a CFP board-approved facility only. Expect to set aside two days to complete the exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »