A high school diploma and a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration is required to become a stock broker. On-the-job training programs or internships are often available to aspiring stock brokers, which allow them to gain practical experience and work towards earning the needed professional licenses. With several years of experience, stock brokers are qualified for a variety of brokerage career opportunities. In training programs, stock brokers study securities and commodities sales, federal regulations on investments and how to manage financial portfolios for their clients. Programs for stock brokers can often be found online.
Bachelor of Science in Finance
A finance degree prepares students to work as stock brokers by focusing a student's studies on financial laws and regulations, accounting methods and investment management. Students study the principles of economics and currency, financial planning and financial forecasting. Programs require four years of study and commonly include courses on:
- Financial markets and institutions
- Financial management
- Accounting methods
- Corporate finance
- Investments and insurance
- Risk management
Employers prefer to hire stock brokers with 1-3 years of brokerage experience. Employers that offer online brokerage services may require one or more years of online brokerage experience. Internships are an ideal way for beginning brokers to gain experience and build their knowledge of the industry. Stock brokers with limited experience can find entry-level positions that provide on-the-job training programs. Stock brokers should have experience in investment management, financial planning, securities sales and customer service.
Licenses and Certifications
Most investment firms require stock brokers to have a Series 7 and Series 63 (or 66) license. Some employers hire non-licensed stock brokers if they obtain the licenses within several months of employment. To obtain a Series 7 license, stock brokers must pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination, which is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Brokers must receive a passing score of 72% to obtain Series 7 licensure.
To obtain Series 63 or 66 licensure, stock brokers must pass the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination, which addresses legal, bookkeeping and client services in securities sales and exchange. Some employers may offer training programs that prepare stock brokers to take the licensure exams. With both licenses, stock brokers demonstrate extensive knowledge of securities sales and financial regulations to employers.
Employers and universities often hold workshops and seminars for stock brokers and financial advisors. Workshops may be a part of on-the-job training or continuing education program. These workshops may be presented by experienced stock brokers, financial advisors or financial instructors. Workshops typically cover topics related to financial management, investment analysis, client relations and stock exchange rules and regulations.
The National Association of Stockbrokers (NAS) is a large professional organization with more than 20,000 members throughout the country. The organization provides conferences, weekly meetings, networking opportunities and continuing education resources. Large corporations and financial institutions often have representatives at NAS meetings, which give members an in-depth look at trends in the industry. The NSA has chapters in 45 cities, so professional development resources are easily accessible to most stock brokers.
Becoming a stock broker involves a number of career-specific licensing and certification requirements, as well as a bachelor's degree in finance or business administration. On-the-job training is another key part of entering this career field.