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Financial Counselor: Job Description & Career Info

Learn about the work responsibilities of a financial counselor. Explore what education and licensing is required in addition to employment outlook and salary to determine if this is the correct career choice.

Career Definition for a Financial Counselor

Financial counselors work first and foremost with the customers of a financial firm and try to sell debt-relief services to the client. They may also work for government or non-profit agencies that are dedicated to helping people reduce debt and manage shaky finances. While working with a client, financial counselors review the debt and the savings a client has and make proposals on how to create assets and decrease debt. In addition to working with families to pay down overwhelming debt, financial counselors teach people how to manage their money effectively and responsibly in order to avoid future financial problems.

Education Associate or bachelor's degree required; certification may be required
Job Skills detail oriented, analytical and mathematics skills, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015) $89,160 (personal financial advisor)
Job Growth (2014-2014) 30% (personal financial advisor)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Prospective financial counselors should earn a 2-year associate's degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree in either finance or accounting. Companies may require that financial counselors receive certification upon employment, which is easily done through a Certified Personal Finance Counselor (CPFC) program, usually offered by the state the company resides in.

Skills Required

A strong, detail oriented mindset and good analytical and math skills help financial counselors determine the best course of action for clients. Financial counselors also must be able to simplify complex concepts when explaining them to customers, which requires excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Occupation and Fiscal Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that much faster than average growth will occur in financial counseling, with personal financial advisor jobs expected to see a 30% increase between 2014 and 2024 with a median annual salary of $89,160 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that credit counselors earned a median annual income of $43,840, as of May 2015. Financial counselors will be especially in demand to assist with retirement planning, since the baby boomer generation is aging.

Alternative Careers

Financial Analyst

For those with an interest in researching companies and stock performances before recommending investments, becoming a financial analyst may be a good career option. Financial analysts perform many duties that include evaluating current and past industry data, investigating economic activities, interviewing company officers and creating reports to present to individual and business investors.

A bachelor's degree in engineering or a business field such as finance, mathematics, statistics or economics is required to enter this profession, but a master's degree may be necessary for more advanced jobs. Many analysts may also need to obtain a license, but this is often accomplished after hire. According to BLS figures, financial analysts should experience 12% employment growth between 2014 and 2024. These analysts earn a median yearly wage of $80,310, as seen in 2015 BLS reports.

Financial Manager

If helping companies make sound investment options and correct financial decisions sounds intriguing, consider a career in financial management. Financial managers examine a company's operations and identify cost-cutting options. They also explore opportunities for growth, oversee financial and accounting staff, make financial recommendations to executives and create financial reporting documents.

To qualify for many financial manager positions, a bachelor's degree in a related business field and several years of professional experience are necessary. Obtaining optional certification may also provide an advantage when looking for a job. The BLS projected a 7% increase in employment during the 2014-2024 decade, resulting in the creation of over 37,700 new financial manager positions nationwide. In 2015, the BLS determined that financial managers earned a median income of $117,990.

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