Financial Advisor: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a financial advisor. Learn about job duties, education requirements, employment outlook and average wages 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 Is a Financial Advisor?

Financial advisors help people with personal budgets, retirement strategies, and investment options. As a financial advisor, you'll meet with clients to discuss their financial goals, research appropriate investment opportunities, and then explain the risks to your clients. You may obtain a license to sell financial products such as insurance and bonds, or specialize in areas such as retirement.

The following chart gives you an overview about what you need to know in order to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Education Field of Study Business, Accounting, Finance, Economics
Licensure/Certification Licensure and/or certification may be required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 30% for personal financial advisors*
Median Salary (2015) $89,160 for personal financial advisors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are The Duties of a Financial Advisor?

Your work as an financial advisor can take on various forms. As a personal financial advisor, you would help people with their personal budgets, provide information on retirement strategies and outline investment options. Your work may involve advising a business about stock market trends and the best investment decisions, as well as about helping a company maintain a balanced budget. If self-employed, your clients will depend on your expertise to get the best return on their money.

What Are The Degree Requirements?

Most companies require financial advisors to have at least a bachelor's degree in business, accounting, finance or economics. Your college curriculum should include several courses in business, statistics and accounting. Some employers prefer candidates with a graduate degree in business administration or finance. A graduate degree program gives you the advanced training and knowledge to work with companies or clients with complicated finances.

What About A License or Certification?

You may need a license to work as a financial advisor, depending on the type of field or your clients. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is an independent securities regulator that reports on financial industries issues and offers licensure through examinations (www.finra.org).

Certification is a separate requirement from a license, and is often sought after gaining experience as a financial advisor. Typically, your employer sponsors your certification for professional development. These certifications vary by specialty. For example, the Certified Financial Board of Standards offers a Certified Financial Planner credential, while the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute offers a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement and a Chartered Financial Analyst certification.

How Much Will I Earn?

Your salary as an financial advisor depends on your clients and your commissions. Payscale.com reported that financial advisors made a base annual salary between $30,960 and $123,639 in October 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2015, financial advisors made a median annual salary of $89,160 (www.bls.gov).

Some of the top-paying industries for financial advisors included the financial investment industry and the securities and commodity exchanges industry. The BLS noted yearly bonuses are common in this industry, and may comprise a large part of your income.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, you may become a financial analyst, financial manager or budget analyst. Financial analysts study trends that affect investments and evaluate data to provide investment advice to businesses and individuals, and may develop investment strategies or sell investments. Financial managers usually are responsible for directing and monitoring a business or organization's finance activities, as well as analyzing data and preparing financial reports. Budget analysts develop and monitor budgets, and advise institutions on finance organization.

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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