Certified Financial Planner Careers


Bachelors Degree in Finance


Certificate in Finance






20% to 80%


$76,650 /yr

$36.37 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Most financial planners give individual advice to individuals regarding personal financial matters such as investment, retirement planning, taxes, and insurance. As a financial planner, you might meet in person with clients to discuss their financial goals and what’s needed to get there; the types of financial services available; and investment options and strategies. You might recommend investments or choose an investment strategy for a client. And you might help your clients plan financially for specific life events such as college, retirement, or a wedding.

Some insurance agents are also certified financial planners. In addition, some specialize in specific areas—such as risk management in investment, business finance, insurance sales, or retirement.

Where are the Certified Financial Planner Jobs?

Certified financial planners work in a variety of settings and business environments. As a financial planner, you could find yourself working for:

Banks and financial services companies. Some financial planners work for banks to provide investment and financial advice—either to individuals or to business owners. As a bank employee, you’re more likely to work with high-wealth individuals and companies, managing their investment portfolios as part of a team of financial analysts, accountants, tax professionals, and others.

Yourself. However, many financial advisors and planners are self-employed—and drumming up new business is an important part of the job. If you work for yourself, you’ll have to find new clients through seminars, business networking, online marketing, and other marketing and relationship-building tactics.

An insurance company. Some certified financial planners are also insurance agents, and these two businesses tend to complement one another well. You may work as a “captive” insurance agent for one company, or work as a free agent selling insurance plans from many different companies. With a certification under your belt for financial planning, you’d be able to expand your business to include these services.

How to Become a Certified Financial Planner

If you work for yourself, you don’t necessarily need a Bachelor’s degree—although this is usually the minimum level of education if you’re interested in working for a firm. While entering a traditional or online finance degree program or one in accounting, economics, law, or business isn’t always necessary, it can give you a solid foundation to get started—and help you stand out to employers.

As a financial advisor, you’ll need a license if you plan to directly buy or sell insurance policies or stocks and bonds. You may need additional licenses depending on the other types of financial products you sell. The licensure varies by state, but the requirements generally include passing a state-administered test and a certain amount of continuing education to renew the license each year.

If you are self-employed, you may need a license for your business as well. Smaller investment companies have to be registered at the state level—requirements vary by state—and larger companies have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Certifications are not mandatory—but they can demonstrate your qualifications to both employers and clients at a higher level. The Certified Financial Planner qualification, offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, is the most common. It requires a Bachelor’s degree and three years of work experience. You also must pass an exam covering financial planning topics including insurance, employee benefits, taxes, retirement planning, real estate, debt management, and statistical modeling.

Earning a Financial Planning Certification with an Online Degree

A Bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for becoming a Certified Financial Planner. According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards [http://www.cfp.net/become/education.asp], your school must be accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the US Department of Education. Many schools that offer online Bachelor degree programs do fulfill this requirement. Check the US Department of Education website to check your school’s accreditation.

Certified Financial Planner Salaries

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for personal financial advisors was $64,750 according to 2010 data. The lowest earners on the scale made approximately $32,660, while the higher earners received as much as $166,400.

This data reflects only those financial planners employed by a firm, however—not self-employed individuals. In addition, financial planners employed by firms often earn bonuses, which are not included here.

Financial planners’ salaries are often tied to the performance of their investments and the sales they make. Financial planners can charge a percentage of the amount of assets they manage—more common in large firms where financial planners assist high-wealth individuals and companies. Financial planners can also make money by charging fees based on stock and insurance purchases or by being paid a commission based on the products they sell.

Certified Financial Planner Job Outlook

Jobs in the financial advisory industry are projected to grow 32% between 2010 and 2020—making them a high-growth area of employment. As the population ages, there is expected to be more of a need particularly in the area of retirement planning, especially as funds for state pensions decrease and corporate pensions become more rare.

Pros and Cons

You can earn a lot as a financial planner, and the entry-level education requirement is not high, especially for those who are self employed—making this field relatively easy to enter. In addition, it’s a stable industry, with demand increasing. Those are the advantages.

However, the combination of high potential wages and a small education requirement make this field competitive. And because many financial planners either work for themselves or are paid on a commission basis, your earnings could be less stable than you would like them to be.

To earn a position at a company, the education requirement may be slightly higher. A traditional or online Masters degree in banking and financial management may help set you apart as the industry becomes more competitive.


Where to Find Certified Financial Planner Jobs:

Ameriprise Advisors