CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a financial advisor.

Step 1

Is becoming a financial advisor right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do financial advisors do?
Career Satisfaction
Are financial advisors happy with their careers?
What are financial advisors like?

Still unsure if becoming a financial advisor is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a financial advisor or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

High School

While there is no specific high school curriculum that is required to become a financial advisor, there are certain courses that can be helpful in preparing for a career in finance. Here are some subjects that can be beneficial:

  • Math: Financial advisors work with numbers, so having a strong foundation in mathematics is essential. Courses such as algebra, geometry, and calculus can be particularly useful.
  • Economics: Understanding economic principles is important in the financial industry. Taking courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and personal finance can provide a solid foundation.
  • Business: Courses in business can help students learn about marketing, management, accounting, and other important topics in the financial industry.
  • Computer Science: Financial advisors use technology to analyze data and manage portfolios. Courses in computer science, particularly in programming and data analysis, can be helpful.

It's also a good idea for students interested in becoming financial advisors to participate in extracurricular activities that demonstrate their interest in finance and business. For example, joining the school's investment club or participating in a stock market game can provide valuable experience.

Ultimately, the most important factor in becoming a financial advisor is obtaining a bachelor's degree and passing the required licensing exams. However, taking high school courses in math, economics, business, and computer science can provide a strong foundation for a career in finance.

Step 3

Steps on How To Become A Financial Advisor

Here are the general steps to become a financial advisor:

  • Obtain a bachelor's degree: Many financial advisors have a Bachelor's Degree in Finance, Economics, Accounting, or a related field. It's not a requirement, but it can be helpful in understanding the financial industry.
  • Gain work experience: Many financial advisors start their careers in related fields, such as accounting, banking, or insurance, to gain experience and build a network.
  • Complete licensing exams: Financial advisors who want to sell securities or provide investment advice must pass licensing exams, such as the Series 7 and Series 66 exams.
  • Register with regulatory bodies: Financial advisors who provide investment advice must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities regulators.
  • Obtain professional certifications: Many financial advisors obtain professional certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations. These certifications require additional coursework and passing exams.
  • Build a client base: Financial advisors need to build a client base to succeed in the industry. This requires networking, marketing, and providing excellent service to clients.

It's important to note that the requirements to become a financial advisor can vary depending on the specific career path and the regulatory bodies involved. It's a good idea to research the requirements in your area and talk to professionals in the industry to get a better understanding of the process.

Step 4


Getting an internship during university can be a great way to gain practical experience in the field, network with professionals, and build your resume for future job opportunities. Remember that securing an internship can be competitive, so be persistent and apply to multiple opportunities. Here are some tips for securing an internship:

  • Research potential firms: Look for financial firms or companies that offer internship programs in your area. Check their websites for job postings or reach out to their human resources department for more information.
  • Build your resume: Highlight any relevant coursework, skills, or experience on your resume. Include any relevant extracurricular activities or volunteer work that shows your interest in finance.
  • Network with professionals: Attend career fairs and other networking events to meet professionals in the industry. Ask for their advice on how to secure an internship and if they know of any opportunities.
  • Apply early: Start applying for internships early, as many firms may have application deadlines several months in advance.
  • Prepare for interviews: Research the company and be prepared to answer common interview questions related to finance and the industry. Practice your interview skills with a career advisor or mentor.
Step 5

Certifications and Licenses

There are a number of professional certifications and licenses that financial advisors can obtain in order to demonstrate their expertise and competency. Some of the most common include:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): This certification is one of the most widely recognized in the industry and requires candidates to complete a rigorous course of study and pass a comprehensive exam. It covers topics such as financial planning, retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, and investment management.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): This is a globally recognized credential that is highly respected in the investment industry. It requires candidates to complete a series of exams that cover topics such as portfolio management, investment analysis, and ethics.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): While typically associated with accounting, CPAs can also provide financial planning and investment advice. This certification requires candidates to pass a rigorous exam and meet educational and experience requirements.
  • Series 7 License: This license allows financial advisors to sell a wide range of securities, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and variable annuities.
  • Series 65 License: This license allows financial advisors to provide investment advice and manage client portfolios.
  • Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF): This certification demonstrates expertise in fiduciary standards of care and best practices for investment advisors.
  • Certified Fund Specialist (CFS): This certification demonstrates knowledge of mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and other types of investment funds.
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU): This certification focuses on life insurance and estate planning, and covers topics such as tax law, insurance law, and retirement planning.

It's worth noting that different certifications and licenses have different requirements and may be more appropriate for different types of financial advising. It's important to research and carefully consider which certifications and licenses are most relevant to your specific area of expertise and practice.

Step 6

Employment Opportunities

There are a variety of employment opportunities for financial advisors, including:

  • Working for a financial services firm: Many financial advisors work for banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, or other financial services firms. They may be employed as employees or as independent contractors.
  • Running their own financial planning practice: Some financial advisors choose to start their own businesses and work as independent financial planners. This can give them greater control over their work and allow them to build a practice that caters to their specific expertise and clientele.
  • Working for a family office: Family offices are private wealth management firms that cater to ultra-high net worth families. Financial advisors working for family offices may provide comprehensive financial planning services to individual clients or to the entire family.
  • Working for a non-profit or government agency: Financial advisors may also find opportunities to work for non-profit organizations, government agencies, or educational institutions. These roles may focus on providing financial education and counseling to underserved populations, such as low-income families or military veterans.
  • Working in academia: Financial advisors with advanced degrees and research expertise may find opportunities to work as professors or researchers in universities or other academic institutions.