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How to Become a Financial Planner

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Make a Living Providing Financial Advice

If you enjoy following the stock market, micro-managing your investment accounts and comparing insurance policies, financial planning may be a great career fit. You'll be able to help others organize their finances, invest their assets and plan for retirement. Becoming a financial planner may give you the job flexibility you need to care for your family while also providing a substantial income.

Job Description

Financial planners, sometimes also called "financial advisors," help clients set and achieve financial goals. A financial planner may analyze a client's current income and assets and then ask about the client's concerns, such as:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Paying for a child's college tuition
  • Starting a business
  • Preparing for unique situations, such as establishing a trust for a severely disabled child

From there, a financial advisor recommends one or more money management and investment strategies. The planner will also recommend changes in strategy as a client's needs and circumstances change.

Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most financial planners will have at least a bachelor's degree, though this is not an absolute requirement. Some colleges and universities offer majors in financial planning. A new financial planner receives on-the-job training from senior advisors.

If you become a financial planner and expect to sell financial products such as securities or insurance, you will need professional licensing from the state or states in which you practice. Licensing requirements vary, so contact your state's licensing boards to find out what is necessary to qualify for a license.

Some financial planners pursue professional certification through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. This designation, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), requires you to hold a bachelor's degree, document your work experience and pass a certification exam. While certification isn't necessary for all financial planners, it can be helpful in developing your career.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for a personal financial advisor was $90,530 in May of 2016. The bottom 10 percent of earners made less than $41,160, with the top 10 percent earning more than $208,000.

About theĀ Industry

If you become a financial planner, you can expect to work in an office environment. Fifty-one percent of advisors work for securities and investment firms, though 24 percent are self-employed. Most planners work full-time, and you should expect to have to work some nights and weekends while meeting with clients.

Years of Experience

According to a survey conducted by PayScale.com, financial planners can expect to earn more as they get more experience. Here is a chart showing how median annual earnings correspond to years in the industry:

  • 0-5 years: $54,000
  • 5-10 years: $74,000 
  • 10-20 years: $97,000 
  • 20+ years: $118,000 

Job Growth Trend

The BLS predicts a strong demand for financial planners between 2016 and 2026. During this time, it's anticipated that employment will grow by 14 percent, largely due to the needs of older adults who are seeking to maximize their retirement savings. Another factor contributing to the need for financial planners is the shift away from standard pensions as an employment benefit. Potential clients need guidance on effectively managing their retirement accounts.