Certified financial planners are investment experts who have passed the certification exam through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. They help individuals and corporate clients create investment portfolios for wealth building and retirement and track the progress of these investments. If you want to become a certified financial planner, you need at least a bachelor's degree in business, finance or a related major. In return, you can expect to earn a six-figure income.
Educational Requirements and Qualifications
The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, economics or statistics. To qualify for certification, you also need at least three years of experience in financial planning, according to the BLS. To earn your certification, you need to pass a 2,000-question exam, according to the American College of Financial Planning, which covers the financial planning process, employment benefits planning, taxes and retirement planning, statistical modeling and other related topics. Other essential qualifications are analytical, selling, math, speaking and interpersonal skills.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a certified financial planner was $104,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed -- more than $13,000 higher than average salaries for all personal financial advisers -- $90,820 -- according to May 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the BLS includes financial planners in its survey sample, it appears that certification can significantly increase financial planners' salaries.
In 2013, average salaries for certified financial planners varied the most within the West region, according to Indeed, where they earned the least in Hawaii and the most in California, at $67,000 and $112,000, respectively. Those in the Northeast made $89,000 to $125,000 in Maine and New York, respectively. If you worked as a certified financial planner in Louisiana or Washington, D.C., you'd earn $89,000 or $123,000, respectively -- the lowest and highest earnings in the South. In the Midwest, you'd make the most in Illinois or the least in Nebraska or South Dakota -- $114,000 or $77,000, respectively.
The BLS predicts a 32-percent increase in jobs for personal financial advisers, including certified financial planners, through 2020 -- much faster than the 14-percent growth rate for all occupations. Increased demand for financial services from baby boomers as they near retirement age should boost jobs for certified financial planners in the next decade. Since companies and government agencies have fewer available funds for retirement and pension funds, individuals rely more on personal financial advisers and certified financial planners for financial planning and investments.