Stock Broker Certification and Certificate Program Information

Several schools offer personal financial planning certificate programs that develop the investment and financial planning skills beneficial to a stock broker.

Essential Information

A personal financial planning certificate program integrates concepts from economics, accounting, securities analysis, corporate finance, banking and insurance. Applicants need to be in the final portion of a bachelor's degree program or already hold a degree, preferably in a related subject. They learn asset valuation, portfolio management and the properties of various financial instruments.

Course content is tailored toward providing students with the knowledge to make sound investment decisions in the equities markets for themselves and clients. A certificate can be earned in less than a year.

There are several legal requirements that stock brokers must fulfill in order to work. They are required to register with a regulatory authority as representatives of the firms that employ them. This requires experience with the firm and passing an exam. Most states require that stock brokers pass an exam as well.

Certificate Programs in Personal Finance

Course content is organized into a series of modules addressing aspects of investing. Typical modules may include:

  • Investment planning fundamentals
  • Tax planning fundamentals
  • Portfolio management
  • Estate planning
  • Retirement account planning
  • Series 7 exam preparation

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Completion of a personal financial planning certificate program better prepares graduates to work as brokers, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, classifies as securities, commodities and financial services sales agents. Over the years 2014-2024, employment in this category is projected to grow 10%, per the BLS.

There has been some consolidation noted in the financial industry in recent years, but employment growth rates have resumed. The field of financial investment has shifted since the financial crisis of 2008, and some brokers will find themselves managing more hedge funds rather than focusing on investment banking. The BLS reported the mean annual salary earned by all kinds of securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents as $102,860 in May 2015. According to, as of July 2016, stock brokers earned a median salary of $49,807.

Continuing Education Information

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires stock brokers to register as representatives of the firms where they work. Registration entails working for a firm at least four months and passing FINRA's Series 7 exam. Most states also require brokers to pass the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination. Brokers with a bachelor's degree and four years of work experience can earn the CFA Institute's Chartered Financial Analyst designation by passing three separate exams.

While the training program for a stock broker may seem brief, there are several additional steps required for legal certification. Certificate programs will help students prepare for these requirements by offering a wide array of class topics in the area of investing.

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