Stock Broker: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a stock broker. Learn about the educational, certification and licensing requirements, job outlook and salary information, to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Finance Investments & Securities degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Stock Broker?

Stock brokers make trades and investments for private individuals, banks and investment firms. They have a number of important responsibilities and duties, including interacting with individuals and companies in order to sell stocks, offering financial advice, and monitoring the financial market in order to remain knowledgeable on the latest financial trends. Brokers may spend quite a bit of their time seeking out new clients, to whom they could sell stocks. The table below provides an overview for this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree (recommended)
Education Field of Study Business, finance, economics
Key Skills Detail oriented, work stamina, meet deadlines, communication
Licensure/Certification Professional license, Chartered Financial Analyst voluntary certification
Job Growth (2014-24) 10% for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents*
Median Salary (2015) $71,550 for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind Education Do I Need to be a Stock Broker?

To pursue a career as a stock broker, you'd typically begin by seeking a 4-year bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. Degrees in business, finance and economics are common in this field. Your studies in these areas will include general education requirements, as well as more focused coursework in management strategies, business accounting, macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Because of great competition in the financial industry, many brokers and financial managers possess advanced credentials. Many universities offer master's degree programs in business or economics. A common professional degree in this field is the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Will I Need to be Certified or Licensed?

Brokers and traders are required to be licensed in the U.S. Licensure entails adhering to regulations and successfully passing the Series Seven examination administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Many states require aspiring brokers to take another exam - the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination, commonly referred to as the Series 63 or 66. You may need additional licensing, depending on the types of financial products you sell.

Certification is voluntary in this industry, although some employers may require it. If you hold a bachelor's degree and have at least four years of industry-related work experience, you may apply for the CFA Institute's Chartered Financial Analyst certification.

Where Will I Work?

Brokers may work everywhere from small localized brokerages to major investment firms. The financial industry is known for its fast-paced, high-stress environment. You may work long, irregular hours. Depending on your client base or the type of institution in which you work, you may be required to travel.

What Kind of Skills Do I Need?

As a broker, you will be managing the funds of private individuals or large institutions. You should be detail oriented and capable of addressing serious stress and working long hours. You should also have an ability to work under deadlines and meet strenuous goals. Because you will be working with clients, you must have strong communications skills. Well-developed skills in mathematics and analytical thinking are useful tools for aspiring brokers.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?

In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary of all securities, commodities and financial services salespeople, a category that includes stock brokers, was $71,550 (www.bls.gov). At that time, these workers earned the highest average salaries in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You could also work as a personal financial advisor. These professionals work more closely with individuals in helping them handle all aspects of their financial life, including investments, college funds, and retirement. If you would like to perform these duties for an organization, you could work as a financial manager. These professionals are in charge of directing all financial decisions of an organization and helping them achieve long-term financial goals. Both of these occupations require bachelor's degrees.

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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