Financial Specialist: License Information and Education Requirements

Sep 13, 2019

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

Financial specialists help their clients with investments, budgeting and saving. A bachelor's degree is the minimum preferred education for entry-level positions, but associate's degrees are sometimes accepted. CPA licensing is also a requirement for the majority of financial specialist job openings.

Essential Information

Financial specialists provide a variety of services to their customers such as planning and preparing taxes, creating expense budgets, helping with investments and managing a client's savings. After acquiring a Certified Personal Accountant (CPA) license, many financial specialists obtain the Personal Financial Specialist designation. A bachelor's degree in accounting is the preferred education for this career.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements CPA license, Personal Financial Specialist credential
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% (for all other financial specialists not listed separately)*
Median Salary (2015) $70,280 (for all other financial specialists not listed separately)*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Financial Certification Qualifications

Financial Specialist Licensing Information

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) offers the examinations needed for the CPA licensure. This licensure is crucial for financial specialists to obtain. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires financial specialists and all other accountants that file reports with them to hold a CPA license. Additionally, certification options for financial specialists require the applicant to be a CPA.

This licensure typically requires anywhere from 120-150 college semester hours. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), states that do not have this college education requirement include Colorado, Vermont, California and New Hampshire. The AICPA also stipulates that most states typically require at least two years of experience in public accounting. The examination to become a CPA is a four part test that can be taken all at once or individually. It is offered for two months every seasonal quarter. Licenses must be renewed regularly.

Personal Finance Specialist

Acquiring a Personal Financial Specialist designation is a crucial step for accountants looking to legitimize themselves as financial specialists. This designation is offered through the AICPA and is only available to financial specialists who have acquired the license.

The requirements to become a Personal Financial Specialist include being a member of the AICPA, obtaining financial planning education, attaining financial planning work experience and then passing a comprehensive examination in financial planning. Completing recertification requirements every three years is needed to remain a Personal Financial Specialist credential.

To provide some salary perspective, financial specialists not otherwise categorized earned a median annual income of $70,280 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2018. Employment of these individuals was expected to increase by 6% from 2018-2028, as fast as average.

Education Requirements for Financial Specialists

Employers prefer financial specialists with at least bachelor's degree in accounting. Associate's and graduate degrees are also available for this field. Entry-level positions typically require an associate's or bachelor's degree while advanced workers should have master's degrees. If a financial specialist option is available to students as a minor or specialization, students should pursue that educational option.

Programs for this degree typically focus on subjects like auditing, business, taxation, accounting, economics, computers and communication. Internship opportunities should be pursued with experienced financial specialists. This can allow the intern to acquire useful work experience and preparation related to being a financial specialist.

Those who wish to become a financial specialist should earn a bachelor's degree in accounting for entry-level positions and a master's degree for advanced positions. A valid CPA license is required by most employers and can be earned through meeting all licensing requirements and passing an exam. Those looking to obtain further credibility can seek out the personal financial specialist designation through the AICPA.

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