How to Become a Financial Planner

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on March 02, 2024

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Financial Planner: Overview

Financial planners are professionals who play a crucial role in helping individuals and businesses manage their long-term finances effectively.

A financial planner is responsible for offering clients various financial services and helping them develop a comprehensive financial plan that aligns with their goals and objectives.

The services provided by financial planners include, but are not limited to, retirement planning, investment management, tax planning, estate planning, insurance planning, and debt management.

They work with various clients, including individuals, families, small business owners, and corporations, to ensure their financial needs are met.

Financial Planners Education Requirements

Regarding educational requirements, a financial planner should preferably have a bachelor's degree. A degree in business administration, finance, economics, or a related field is a common starting point for individuals seeking to become financial planners.

A master's degree may also be required; however, this is up to the individual and potential firms hiring financial planners. A master's degree in finance or a related field can provide a competitive edge and increase career advancement opportunities.

To be effective in financial planning, practitioners should take courses on financial planning, tax preparation, investments, cash flow, personal budgeting, and insurance.

Furthermore, they must stay updated with changes in the business and financial markets, including the latest financial planning techniques and strategies.

Financial Planners Certifications & License

Financial planners must obtain certifications and licenses to practice legally and ethically.


There are various types of financial planners. The certified financial planner (CFP) designation may be the most influential and popular certification for financial planners.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This is a certification awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. The CFP certification requires the completion of a rigorous training program, as well as passing a comprehensive examination.

There are other certifications that financial planners can pursue:

Certified Fund Specialist (CFS): This designation recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the mutual fund and investment management industry. The Institute of Business and Finance grants this certification.

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): Individuals with the ChFC designation have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in financial planning and wealth management. The American College grants this certification.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): The CFA designation recognizes individuals with demonstrated expertise in investment management, financial analysis, and portfolio management. The CFA Institute grants this certification.


Financial planners who sell securities must obtain securities licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) such as the following:

Series 6: A securities license that allows individuals to trade securities such as mutual funds, variable annuities, and other similar products.

Series 7: This license enables individuals to sell various securities products, including stocks, bonds, options, and other complex financial instruments.

Series 63: It is also known as the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam and is required for individuals who wish to sell securities in a particular state.

Series 65: It is also known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam and is required for individuals who wish to act as investment advisers and provide investment advice to clients.

Series 66: This license is a combination of the Series 63 and Series 65 licenses and is required for individuals who wish to act as securities agents and investment advisers.

The type of license a financial planner needs depends on the products and services they offer. They must also pass a qualifying exam and an ongoing continuing education requirement.

It is important to note that state and jurisdiction licensing and certification requirements vary.

Financial Planners Experience Requirement

In addition to education and certifications, obtaining relevant experience is critical to becoming a successful financial planner.

Internships and entry-level jobs in the financial planning industry can give people valuable hands-on experience and help them learn more about the field.

Several years of work experience, particularly in financial planning or investment management, can significantly enhance an individual's chances of success.

Through these experiences, they can build a network of professional contacts and gain a deeper understanding of such an industry. Experience interacting with clients, whether in a sales or service capacity, can benefit them.

They can effectively make recommendations to clients through industry training programs, workshops, and practical experience.

Basic Requirements to Become a Financial Planner

How Much Do Financial Planners Make?

Financial planners are critical in helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals. As such, they can earn a substantial salary.

According to Indeed data, the average base salary for financial planners is $78,622 per year. This number can vary based on location, experience level, and services they provide.

The estimated total pay, including additional payments financial planners receive, the most likely range of their annual salary, is $77,000 to $141,000.

In addition to base salary, many financial planners may receive bonuses or commissions for meeting client goals and performance targets.

Should You Become a Financial Planner?

Becoming a financial planner will play a critical role in helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals, which can be a highly fulfilling and satisfying experience. At the same time, it gives you the potential to earn a substantial salary and bonuses.

Many financial planners work as independent professionals, allowing them to set their schedules and work from anywhere.

However, there are some drawbacks, such as a high level of responsibility. Also, as a financial planner, you must adhere to a complex set of regulations and compliance requirements, which can be time-consuming and challenging to navigate.

Individuals who are well-suited for the profession of financial planning typically possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills. You must be able to analyze complex financial data and develop effective strategies to help clients achieve their financial goals.

Finally, you must be highly ethical and maintain the highest standards of integrity, as you are trusted with your client's finances.

The Bottom Line

Financial planners assist individuals and businesses in effectively managing their long-term finances.

Whether clients want long-term financial stability, plan for retirement, or protect their assets, financial planners are equipped to provide the necessary guidance and support.

Becoming one typically requires a combination of education, certifications, licenses, and relevant work experience.

Additionally, strong analytical and problem-solving skills, excellent communication skills, and high ethics and integrity are essential for success in this field.

Financial planners play a vital role in ensuring that their clients are in a solid financial position and have peace of mind regarding their finances.

How to Become a Financial Planner FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

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