How to Become an Investment Consultant: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 10, 2020

Learn how to become an investment consultant. Research the education and career requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in investment consulting.

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Should I Become an Investment Consultant?

Investment consultants help clients plan their investments and assess any risks associated with making specific investments. These consultants will monitor several investments at a time to determine how well they are working toward meeting clients' goals.

Investment professionals can be employed at financial investment firms, credit agencies, securities and commodities brokerages and insurance carriers. Many of these workers are self-employed. Investment consultants typically work in office spaces, but they may need to travel frequently to meet with clients.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's preferred
Degree Field Finance, economics, business administration, or related field
Licensure/Certification Licensure may be required; voluntary certifications are available
Experience 2-8 years of experience in fields like accounting
Key Skills Analytical, communication, decision-making, and math skills; attention to detail; experience with customer relationship management (CRM), document management, financial analysis, spreadsheet, and word processing software
Salary $88,890 (2018 median salary for personal financial advisers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Job Postings from

Getting into this field requires a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions, but some employers prefer candidates with master's degrees. Fields of study include finance, economics, business administration or related fields. Licensure may be required, and voluntary certifications are available. Typically, investment consultants have at least 2-8 years of experience in fields like accounting, depending on the job. The key skills for investment consultants are analytical skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, attention to detail, math skills, experience with customer relationship management (CRM) software, document management software, financial analysis software and spreadsheets. In 2018, personal financial advisers earned a median annual salary of $88,890, stated the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's check out the career steps for investment consultants.

Career Steps

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

An undergraduate degree is necessary in order for an individual to become an investment consultant. A bachelor's degree in business, accounting, finance or economics are common degree options. A degree program in finance often includes courses on corporate finance, financial institutions and capital markets, investments and international finance. An economics course of study will usually include subjects such as employment and unemployment, inflation and labor economics, among other topics.

To really shine, gain experience by participating in an internship. Students can gain skills and experience by participating in internships while still at college. Internship opportunities may be available with banks, insurance companies or securities firms. Internships can also help students form networking connections to assist them in finding jobs after graduation.

Step 2: Begin Gaining Employment Experience

Bachelor's degree holders can apply for entry-level jobs in the financial services field. Prospective employers look for strong skills in math, analysis, problem solving, writing and communication. A mind for detail is also helpful. Graduates are encouraged to take advantage of the contacts established during school and through internships when trying to secure a job. Several years of experience, development of skills and accumulation of knowledge in fields like accounting are required for someone to become an investment consultant.

Step 3: Obtain Licensure

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many positions require licensure from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA). The BLS stated that most licenses offered by the FIRA require employer sponsorship, so investment consultants may obtain licensure after finding a job.

You may also want to consider certification. While not required, the BLS stated that most employers prefer candidates who are certified. After acquiring four years of experience working as an investment consultant, an individual is eligible to earn a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential by taking and passing three exams. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for earning this designation. The CFA program is an independent study, graduate-level program that contains a broad syllabus of investment principles and ethical standards.

Step 4: Continue Education

The BLS reported that most advanced positions in investment consulting require a master's degree, so it's advised that investment consultants continue their education to the graduate level in order to advance in the field. Many master's programs are available to the employed graduate looking to enhance his or her education and increase the number of job opportunities in the investment field. A Master of Science in Finance program, for example, offers comprehensive investment knowledge based upon real world circumstances and case studies.

Investment consultants who wish to continue their education without earning a degree may find opportunities through professional organizations, such as the Association of Professional Investment Consultants (APIC). The APIC holds an annual conference to keep members up to date on industry advances.

To recap, with an undergraduate degree and experience, along with licensure and possible certification, an investment consultant can earn about $88,890 to help clients plan their investments and assess any risks associated with making specific investments.

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