Investment Advisor Degree Programs and Certifications

One option for investment advisors seeking further training is to earn a graduate degree in a finance area, such as a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning.

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Essential Information

An investment advisor or personal financial advisor analyzes economic trends and uses financial data to make investment suggestions to individual clients.

Students in master's programs in personal financial planning learn about personal taxation, retirement plans, estate planning, personal investment strategy, wealth management and risk management. Prerequisites for many of these programs includes a bachelor's degree in business administration, finance or similar field, as well as competitive GRE scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Many schools offer graduate degree programs in personal financial planning approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which can prepare students for voluntary certification.


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Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning

Master's degree programs in financial planning provides an advanced overview of financial research methods and of the theories behind personal finance and investments. Some graduate programs require the completion of a capstone project, while others require or recommend that each student complete a teaching assistant (TA) experience before graduation.

Coursework usually includes:

  • Professional applications of personal finance
  • Personal financial planning
  • Theories and practice of settlement planning
  • Asset management
  • Consumer behavior
  • Investment strategies

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 197,580 personal financial advisors worked in the United States in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Jobs for personal financial advisors are predicted to increase by 30% (much faster than average) between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, these advisors made a median annual wage of $89,160.

Continuing Education Options

Certification for personal financial planners and investment advisors is voluntary, but highly recommended in the field. Professionals can earn Certified Financial Planner designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Gaining such certification requires at least three years of professional experience, adherence to a strict code of ethics, and an examination. Individuals who hold certification credentials may find it easier to earn and secure clients in the highly competitive field of financial planning

Students in a Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning program gain an understanding of financial research, theories and procedures that they then may use in real-world financial situations.

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