How Can I Become an Investment Professional?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as an investment professional. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and job duties information. Schools offering Finance Investments & Securities degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Investment Professional?

As an investment professional, you can help both companies and individuals with diversifying portfolios, managing assets, analyzing market trends and reducing financial risk. You may be interested in becoming a financial advisor, a financial analyst or a trader. Financial advisors provide individuals with assistance as they make decisions and goals regarding their finances. As a financial advisor, you'll help clients make sound investments, handle their estate and save for college or retirement. As a financial analyst, you'll analyze bonds, stocks and other investments and provide advice to businesses and individuals who want to invest. Traders generally work in the stock market, buying and selling stocks and bonds. In order for them to make wise trading decisions, it's important for traders to watch the market closely so they can predict what it will do in the future. The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

Financial Advisor Financial Analyst Trader
Degree Required Bachelor's degree minimum, master's degree may be required for advancement Bachelor's degree minimum, master's degree may be required for advancement Bachelor's degree minimum, master's degree may be required for advancement
Key Responsibilities Tax management
Assist with retirement
Estate planning
Analyze the market
Study economic patterns
Monitor how stocks, bonds and securities perform
Work trading floor
Receive requests from clients
Make trades
Certification Certification is voluntary Certification is voluntary Certification is voluntary
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7%* 6%* 4% (for all securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)*
Median Salary (2018) $88,890* $85,660* $70,783 (for securities traders, November 2019)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, **

What Education Do I Need to Work as an Investment Professional?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work as an investment professional ( Common degree programs relevant in this field include a Bachelor of Science with majors in accounting, applied economics and finance. A Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in mathematics is also applicable. These degree programs could teach you about financial reporting, financial markets and mathematical formulas used to calculate risk.

A master's degree program can provide more specialized training in areas such as investment banking, securities and commodities, and stock analysis. Master's degree options include a Master of Science and Master of Business Administration (MBA) with concentrations in corporate finance and investment banking, applied security analysis and quantitative finance. You could also enroll in a graduate certificate program, such as strategic decision and risk management.

What Certifications Can I Earn?

To boost your credibility as an investment professional, you could obtain a certification that demonstrates to employers your competency in and dedication to the field. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential is a common certification for investment professionals who want to perform market research help companies allocate their financial assets. You'll need a bachelor's degree or four years of work experience to take the CFA exam ( You can also qualify to take the exam if you have a combination of college credits and work experience

What Licenses Do I Need?

Depending on the type of job you obtain, you may need to be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), according to the BLS. The most common license that allows an investment agent to work as a registered member of a company is the Series 7 license. In most states, professionals who provide financial advice are required to hold the Series 63 and Series 66 licenses.

What Jobs Could I Get?

Some of the most common job titles for this career field include broker, financial advisor, financial analyst, investment banker and trader. Brokers primarily sell stocks to individuals and can help with analyzing risk. Financial advisors often provide services such as tax management, retirement and estate planning.

Financial analysts generally work with businesses; they analyze market and economic patterns, and monitor how stocks, bonds and securities perform. Investment bankers work in corporate financing and may perform job duties such as overseeing mergers and acquisitions, allocating company shares and structuring a company's use of stocks and bonds. Traders typically work on the floor in a fast-paced environment, receiving requests from clients and making trades.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in helping people make important purchases, you could consider working as a real estate broker. As a real estate broker, you'd assist your clients in handling property, whether they are buying a new house, selling their old house or looking for a place to rent. In order to work as a real estate broker, you'll need a high school diploma at minimum, though many employers prefer candidates with a college degree. You could also work as a budget analyst, which requires a bachelor's degree. These professionals help a variety of organizations, such as schools or businesses, manage their finances by looking at their spending and income in order to create budgets. They then analyze these budgets to see if the client is operating within its financial means.

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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