Certified Financial Planner - CFP Career Profile

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified financial planner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Certified financial planners typically hold a bachelor's or master's degree in finance or another relevant subject and have strong interpersonal, math, analytical and sales skills. They must be licensed and pass an exam covering each financial product they wish to sell. Jobs for personal financial advisors are projected to grow at a much higher than average rate through 2028.

Essential Information

The career of a certified financial planner combines the challenges of a stockbroker, investment analyst and statistician while working closely with clients. Certified financial planners are personal financial advisors who have obtained professional certification and possess sales, math, analytical and interpersonal skills. They help their clients, who include private citizens, businesses and corporations, to develop a personal financial plan that balances financial growth with a client's risk tolerance. Planners typically have a bachelor's degree in finance, economics or a related field. Professionals must also complete licensing requirements.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in finance or related field
Other Requirements Licensure and certification
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% growth (for personal financial advisers)*
Median Salary (2018) $88,890 (for personal financial advisers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Personal financial advisors must meet certain minimum requirements in order to become certified financial planners. Advisors typically hold a bachelor's or master's degree in finance, economics, mathematics or accounting. In these degree programs, students may study financial theories, investments and fundamentals. Common courses include:

  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Accounting principles
  • Risk management


In order to sell financial products, financial advisors must be licensed. Licensure requirements generally include completing the respective licensing exam for the product that the financial advisor plans to sell.

Work Experience

Personal financial advisors must also have at least three years of related work experience in planning in order to test for certification. Advisors become certified in order to gain favor with employers and clients alike. In the United States, financial planners must pass an exam known as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification exam ( In order to maintain their credentials, a certified financial planner must pay their yearly fees to the CFP Board and complete continuing education, which amounts to at least 30 hours every two years.

Salary Information

According to the BLS, personal financial advisors, including certified financial planners, earned a median annual income of $88,890 as of 2018. In the same year, the top-paying states for financial advisors were New York and District of Columbia, where workers earned mean salaries of $164,260 and $158,460 per year, respectively.

Job Outlook

Most financial planners work for large firms in big cities; however, many are beginning to work in suburban areas, helping middle class citizens develop retirement and savings plans.

The BLS noted that jobs for financial advisors, including certified financial planners, were expected to increase by 7% from 2018-2028. This above-average growth is primarily due to the expanding population of older individuals turning to financial planners for advice and guidance.

Certified financial planners help clients develop plans for their financial futures, balancing growth with risk. They typically hold a bachelor's or master's degree in finance, economics, mathematics or accounting, and licensure is required. Additionally, work experience is a requirement for certification, and job opportunities for all financial advisors are predicted to grow at a rate of 7% in the years 2018 through 2028.

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