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Certified Financial Professional: Education Requirements & Career Info

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

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Certified financial professionals often work directly with clients or with other professionals to deliver financial advice and strategies. This advice may include insurance, stocks, bonds, or retirement options. To become certified, financial professionals must have full-time work experience, a bachelor's degree, and must complete a 10-hour exam.

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Essential Information

Certified financial professionals often work as personal financial advisors who develop strategies for helping clients attain their monetary goals. These professionals are usually required to hold bachelor's degrees. There are also state and federal licensure requirements for financial advisors, especially those who purchase and sell insurance policies, bonds, or stocks.

After earning a bachelor's degree, a financial professional interested in certification can pursue the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential. Certification requires having at least three years of experience, completing a background check, adhering to an ethical code, and passing certification exams.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Certification CFP certification
Licensure State and federal licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 30% for personal financial advisors
Average Salary (2015)* $118,050 for personal financial advisors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Info

Certified financial professionals work with clients to help plan and meet personal financial goals. These long- and short-term goals can be in a number of areas, including investments or insurance. It can also involve one specific area like estate planning, retirement or taxes. These professionals look at an overall financial picture and develop ways for clients to budget and save. They analyze a client's information and come up with several options or strategies, depending on the needs, information and goals of a client. Certified financial professionals sometimes work with other professionals, such as attorneys or stockbrokers, to help attain their clients' goals.

Certification Overview

Aspiring certified financial professionals must pass the CFP certification exam, which is a 10-hour test that is taken in three sessions. They must also fulfill full-time work experience requirements. Work experience can be performed in a number of ways, such as teaching personal finance or performing services for clients. In addition to passing the certification exam, individuals must pass a background check and complete the CFP Board of Standard's Candidate Fitness Standards, which is a conduct assessment.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS projected a 30% employment growth for personal financial advisors from 2014-2024. This rate is assumed due to a growing number of retiring people who will need financial advice, as well as more individuals who are managing their own retirement accounts. As of May 2015, the BLS indicated an average annual salary of $118,050 for personal financial advisors, although these numbers do not specify whether the data was based off of the salaries of certified or uncertified professionals.

Certified financial professionals may go into many different aspects of financial planning and analysis, ranging from estate and retirement planning to investments. Certification is not mandatory, but state and federal licensure is, although requirements depend on what specialization a financial professional is dealing with.

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