Financial Advisor: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Research what it takes to become a financial advisor. Learn about education requirements, job responsibilities, average salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Financial Advisors Do?

Financial advisors spend their time advising clients and organizations on what to do with their money. The world of finance with these professionals revolves around investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes and retirement savings, and the advise their clients, both personal or groups, in all these areas.

A financial advisor gathers and analyzes client information to develop financial recommendations and strategies that are in line with clients' objectives. The following table gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended
Field of Study Finance, accounting, business, economics
Job Duties Examine clients' finances; develop financial plans; assist with investments, retirement and estate planning, college savings, life insurance and taxes
Licensure Licensure in state of practice may be required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 30%*
Average Salary (2015) $118,050*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Financial Advisor?

Financial advisors develop comprehensive financial plans for individuals. They assist with general investments, retirement and estate planning, college education funds, life insurance and tax advice. These professionals may be in the business of selling mutual funds, stocks or insurance policies. They examine their clients' finances, including assets and liabilities, and make appropriate financial and investment recommendations.

What Educational Prerequisites Should I Fulfill?

To become a financial advisor, you'll need to acquire a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or a related field. However, be advised that a number of employers look for advanced graduate-level education, such as a master's degree in finance. An undergraduate finance program, for example, might offer courses on business statistics, microeconomics, financial statement analysis, portfolio management and marketing principles. A typical master's degree program will consist of classes that deal with financial engineering, commercial banking, corporate finance, national economic analysis and finance fundamentals.

What Further Skills or Credentials Would Be Beneficial?

You'll also find it helpful to have good math and communication skills, an analytical mind and a background in insurance or accounting. Depending upon whether or not you sell stocks, bonds or professional advice, you may need to pass a series of examinations to become licensed. This can be accomplished through your state's regulatory board. If you plan to sell insurance, you may need to acquire additional licensing. You should check with the North American Securities Administrators Association for more detailed information (

What Is the Career Outlook and How Much Might I Earn?

As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that personal financial advisors earned an average annual salary of $118,050. The median salary was considerably lower, at $89,160. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of jobs for personal financial advisors is expected to grow faster than average, at 30%

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related work for a career in financial advising includes analysts for budgets and finance, insurance underwriters, and security/commodities agents. Analysts may prepare budgets or monitor spending. Insurance underwriters review insurance applications to determine the terms and coverage of approved applications. Brokers and commodity agents connect buyers and sellers of stocks and bonds in the financial markets. All of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Some other related professions like insurance sales agents or real estate brokers may only need a high school diploma but will need specialized training.

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:

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