Becoming a stock broker on Wall Street requires a lot of work and networking. There are several exams for licenses that may be necessary, depending on what firm you will be working for and what services the firm offers. This position depends heavily on personality and sales skills, but there are some specific educational requirements as well.
Skills and Experience
A broker is, first and foremost, a salesperson, so sales experience is highly valued by employers hiring entry-level stock brokers. Firms want brokers who can bring in new clients, so networking can be of benefit when looking for a position. You must possess good communication and negotiation skills in order to quickly communicate with both clients and traders to ensure that the buying and trading that happens is exactly what your clients want. Be aware that firms will perform a background check on all applicants, and any bankruptcy or tax trouble will likely make finding work as a stock broker very difficult -- so keep your personal finances well in check.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become a stock broker, but in most cases the best positions go to candidates with a master’s degree or higher. The degree should be in a finance-related field, such as economics, finance or accounting. It's also a good idea to take classes in business and sales.
If you are hired by a brokerage firm, they will likely continue your education with up to six months of training in services the firm offers, communications and securities analysis. You may work as a trainee or intern during this training period.
There are several licenses that you may be required to have depending on where you work and what you will be selling. These are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, also known as FINRA, which administers the exams you must pass to obtain the licenses. All stock brokers are required to pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination, also known as the Series 7 Exam. This exam requires you to know the rules and regulations governing the Securities and Exchange Commission in addition to the basics of investing. Depending on what state you live in, you may also be required to take a Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination, also known as Series 63, which is focused on details of the stock exchange.
Some examinations require a sponsor before you are allowed to sit for them. This means that in some cases you will have to apply for jobs before you have the proper licensure to actually work as a stock broker. In these cases, the firms will judge you on your education and your background in sales, as well as potentially your connections and networking skills. If you are hired, they will sponsor you for the exams that the firm and the state you are in requires. Some firms also want their stock brokers to sell life insurance and other commodities, in which case they will sponsor you for those corresponding exams as well.