Become a Commodities Broker: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a commodities broker. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the commodities field.

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Should I Become a Commodities Broker?

Commodities brokers assist buyers and sellers in transactions involving such commodities as corn, gold, and oil. They also seek investors for these commodities and conduct trades. Long hours and a fast pace can cause considerable stress for these professionals.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree or higher
Degree Field Business administration, finance, accounting, or economics
Licensure and Certification Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licensure is required
Experience Entry-level; on the job training is common
Key Skills Knowledge of marketing and sales, financial analysis, and financial law; familiarity with software commonly used to make trades, create databases, and maintain spreadsheets; fast decision-making skills
Median Annual Salary (2015) $71,832

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine, Payscale.com

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

The first step to becoming a commodities broker is to earn a bachelor's degree. Suitable fields of study include economics, finance, accounting and business. Courses involved in such programs often include business administration, finance, business finance, international business, marketing and logistics. For some positions, sales and customer service experience may be required.

Success Tips:

  • Obtain an internship. Working in an intern position can lead to full-time employment. Internships are generally designed for students in their junior or senior years. Successful interns may be offered permanent positions upon graduating.

Step 2: Complete Job Training

Most companies provide on-the-job training on the specific products and services they offer. The training can be intensive and trainees may be rotated to several departments during their training periods. This rotation allows them to gain a thorough understanding of the industry.

Success Tip:

  • Attend industry conferences and training seminars. Brokers are required to stay updated on new products and services. By attending these professional events, they have the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight into new industry trends and network with other professionals.

Step 3: Attain FINRA Licensure

Registration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is required for brokers. Typically, they are registered as representatives of the firms for which they work, which means that they become licensed after finding employment. To obtain a FINRA license, a candidate needs to pass a specific exam. However, a separate FINRA license is usually required for each type of financial product or service sold. Thus, a typical broker usually has to pass multiple exams.

Success Tip:

  • Complete continuing education courses. To maintain FINRA licensure, brokers are required to complete continuing education classes every three years. These courses may cover new legislature affecting the industry, new services being introduced or new products being offered.

Step 4: Become Certified

Although certification is voluntary, the BLS indicates that employers recommend it. The CFA Institute, which represents investment professionals around the world, offers two widely-recognized certification programs. To earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, brokers must obtain a bachelor's degree, complete at least three years' professional experience and pass three examinations. The Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) program has two levels of exams that must be passed. Both certifications are considered self-study and can be completed while working a full-time job.

Step 6: Advance with Experience and Education

Successful brokers who develop a reputation for reliability and exceptional productivity often find new opportunities in high-level investment, financial, and corporate roles. A commodities broker has skills which can transfer to work involving private money management, insurance, credit and loans, as well as accounting. Some brokers may consider earning a master's degree as well, like a Master of Business Administration, to further new career opportunities.

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