Personal Finance Certificate Overview
Many schools offer certificate programs that cover fundamental and advanced topics in personal finance. These programs, which can be found in online delivery formats, are ideal for those who are looking to gain an introduction to the field and need a credential to help demonstrate their knowledge.
Though not required, earning the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential can be extremely helpful in finding employment and landing new clients for those working as personal financial advisors. Many online certificate programs contain coursework that qualifies students to sit for the CFP exam, but students should be aware that exam eligibility requirements dictate that candidates must also have a bachelor's degree in order to sit for the exam. Other schools even have specific programs for CFP prep that candidates can choose to pursue after earning the personal finance certificate.
Description of Online Personal Finance Certificate Programs
The goal of these programs is to equip candidates with the skills and knowledge required to manage the financial interests of individual clients. Delivery formats are available for all types of schedules; working professionals who need a program that offers flexible scheduling options can opt for fully online programs. Those who want to combine on-site instruction with the convenience of online learning can look into hybrid programs, which offer a blend of both learning styles.
Course topics vary from one program to the next but generally cover the same core principles in financial planning, taxation, retirement planning, and estate planning. Other common course topics include stock compensation, insurance planning, and employment benefits. Some programs conclude with a capstone project in which candidates complete one final assignment to demonstrate their knowledge, while others include an ethics component that introduces students to the moral and legal obligations that personal financial advisors must navigate.
Online personal finance certificate programs are available at the undergraduate level. They are also offered as continuing education programs, meaning that students can pursue this credential with or without a bachelor's degree. All candidates, regardless of prior education, will need to have familiarity with essential principles in finance. Undergraduate programs might have a list of prerequisite courses that candidates must take before becoming eligible to enroll in coursework, and continuing education programs often recommend that students already have a bachelor's degree or even prior work experience.
Career Options After Earning a Personal Finance Certificate
Personal finance certificates are useful for just about anyone who wants to make the most effective use of their money, but they can also be useful in finding a career. The personal financial advisor profession is a stable career, although a certificate program is usually not enough by itself to find work. Candidates looking to move into this field will usually need a bachelor's degree at minimum and can improve their chances of finding employment with a master's degree, CFP certification, or both.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal financial advisors earned a median salary of $88,890 as of May 2018. The BLS also noted that employment in this profession should grow 7% from 2018-2028, a rate that is faster than the national average for all jobs and would create over 19,000 new positions. The BLS attributes the high demand to an aging population and predicts that as more and more individuals approach retirement, they will want to consult with someone who has experience in handling personal finances.
Certificate programs in personal finance are available in hybrid and fully online formats for candidates looking to improve their knowledge of finance, investments, taxation, and other essential principles. Graduates who complete these programs can eventually sit for the CFP exam, pursue further education, or look for work immediately.