How to Start a Career in Financial Planning

Unlike some careers, the path to becoming a financial planner isn’t always well spelled out. Yes, you’ll need the right education to get started, but the rest can feel a bit like a mystery. Different organizations may list varying requirements for positions, making it hard to determine which degrees or certifications will actually help you get ahead.

To assist you on start a career in financial planning, here are some tips that will allow you to take off on the right foot.

Financial planners need specific skills and knowledge bases, and many of these begin with the proper education. Your first step will be to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field. In some cases, you’ll find a program focused on financial planning. But, if that’s not available at this level, start by majoring in accounting, business, economics, finance, law, or mathematics. Focus your coursework on key areas like estate planning, investing, risk management, and taxation to give yourself a solid foundation.

While not required, continuing on to get a master’s degree can be a smart move. You can find a master of financial planning online that lets you continue your studies at your own pace, allowing you to enter the workforce and begin gaining experience simultaneously.

Being certified isn’t necessarily a requirement for working in the financial planning field, but it will help you access better job opportunities with more reputable firms. One of the most popular options is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. This shows you have the right skills and expertise to work in the field, making you more attractive to potential employers. There are experience requirements before you are eligible, so keep these in mind as you begin working, so you can take the exam as soon as you qualify.

Whether you need a license will depending on your area of focus. Some financial planners that also sell bonds, insurance, mutual funds, or stocks may require specific licenses through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to perform those services. However, if you don’t intend to offer those services, taking those exams is unnecessary.

Land a Job
Once you’ve finished your initial education, you should have the proper credentials to get a job in the financial planning. Often, you’ll need to find an entry-level position that allows you to gain experience and apply your skills in the real-world.

Don’t stress about finding the perfect opportunity for your first job in the field typically serves as a stepping stone to better things as you progress in the field. Try to find an employer that will give you a chance to hone your skills and work with people who will help you learn along the way, and won’t necessarily have you focused on acquiring your own clients from the beginning. This will let you transition into your new career more smoothly, ensuring you have everything in order before you take the next step.

Then, as you gain experience and obtain certifications, you can explore new opportunities that offer you more of what you’re hoping to find for the rest of your career.

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