TV and film portrayals show stock brokers as bloodthirsty smooth talkers, working frantically out of Manhattan skyscrapers. In reality, working as a stock broker is a lot like any other job: it's full of both challenges and rewards, and a lot of your time will be spent doing boring paperwork. The rewards are primarily financial. The average stock broker salary is generous – although maybe not as high as an aspiring broker would hope.
Essentially, a stock broker is a go-between, a middleman. When a client wants to invest money in the stock market by buying stocks, bonds and other securities, a broker conducts the deal. Brokers typically work for large investment firms, also called brokerage firms.
During a typical work day, a broker might split his time between finding potential new clients, researching the current market, checking in on the portfolios he manages, giving status reports or making recommendations to his current clients, doing paperwork and networking with social and professional contacts to build his business. Making connections and marketing is a big part of being a successful broker.
A bachelor's degree is a standard requirement for starting a career as a stock broker. Some firms may also require new hires to have graduate degrees in finance or in a related field. Because the industry is complicated and requires a lot of on-the-job training, it's common for an aspiring broker to complete at least one internship with a brokerage firm.
State regulators require that new brokers pass qualifying exams given by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which test brokers to make sure that they understand the laws, risks and procedures involved with working in this high-stakes industry.
New York's Wall Street is the stock brokering hub in the U.S., but brokers don't have to live in Manhattan to pursue this career. Branches of brokerage firms operate all around the country, so brokers can work in other cities or even sometimes from home. Typically, successful brokers work long hours, checking the markets, starting early in the morning and working into the evening, as well as on weekends. One in three brokers worked more than 40 hours a week as of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Years of Experience and Salary
Although this industry has a reputation for being extremely lucrative, an aspiring broker shouldn't expect to get ultra-wealthy – at least, not right away. According to BLS data, financial sales agents who worked in "securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities" earned a median salary of $96,550, as of May 2017. (Median means that half of brokers earned more and half earned less.) That works out to a monthly median salary of $8,046.
That said, in the stock market, salary depends on several factors like the wealth level of a broker's clients, how many hours the broker puts into his job and the fluctuation of the market. Brokers can also earn commissions, which affects monthly pay. In theory, a broker could take home $50,000 one month and $5,000 the next. That's why, to a stock broker, average salary can't necessarily be predicted.
Job Growth Trend
The future employment of stock brokers is always somewhat uncertain because recessions force investment firms to cut jobs. But the BLS predicts that jobs for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents will grow by 6 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is on par with the average rate of growth predicted for all industries.