How to Become a Financial Advisor

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 7, 2019
Red haired female financial advisor meeting with her clients

Financial advisors do exactly what the name suggests (and if you're interested in where the name originated, check this out). They work with clients to assess their current financial status and future plans, economic conditions and forecasts, and regulations, to provide financial advice. Read on to learn the steps you must complete to become a financial advisor. 

STEP 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Good news! If you’re currently enrolled in college and working toward your bachelor’s degree, you’re already on the path toward becoming a financial advisor. Most practicing financial advisors majored in some type of business or finance program. If you’re considering a career in financial advice, it might also be a good idea to find and interview someone who is currently working in the field. Tell them you’d like to become a financial advisor, and ask them specific questions about what an average day looks like, what factors influence their compensation, and what they like and dislike about their career. This will give you an accurate picture of what to expect in the career for which you’re preparing.

STEP 2: Complete an Internship

While still in school, it’s a good idea to pursue an internship with a financial advice firm or sole practitioner. Internships will help you get a first-person look at the career and understand what it means to be a financial advisor on a day-to-day basis. Internships also represent an opportunity to network with existing financial advisors and potentially find a mentor. Some of the relationships you form as an intern will follow you throughout your career. Finally, an internship looks good on your resume. Most employers prefer to hire people with experience. Of course, as a recent college graduate, you won’t have much, if any, experience. An internship provides a priceless opportunity to gain experience and demonstrate your active interest in becoming a financial advisor. You can learn how to get an internship here.

STEP 3: Find a Job

Once you’ve earned your degree and gotten some experience as an intern, it’s time to start job hunting. There is no shortage of resources available to help you write an effective resume. Here’s a few tips for writing a resume that will get noticed:

  • Go beyond your education and work experience. Talk about what makes you a great employee, and the skills you have that make you a great fit for the position.
  • Don’t waste words. Short and impactful statements on your resume make it easier for the employer to identify and remember the points you’re trying to make.
  • Put the important stuff up front. It’s ok to work from a template, but you’re trying to present yourself as a unique individual to potential employers. Feel free to take liberties with the template to make sure it effectively sells you as a potential employee.

Our article on how to prepare a resume that will get you noticed can help, too.

Download the free eBook, Getting There from Here: Career Path Stories from Finance Professionals, to get firsthand accounts of what it's like to have a rewarding career in finance.

STEP 4: Get Certified

The field of financial advising is competitive. Many advisors pursue certifications or licenses to help them develop a specialty or differentiate themselves from their competition. Once you’ve logged some experience in the field, you will get a better idea of the type of work you enjoy as a financial advisor. This experience will help you decide which certification(s) are a good fit for the career you want to build. Some common certifications and licenses that financial advisors pursue are:

STEP 5: Pursue Additional Education

A thirst for knowledge will serve you well in any career. Financial advice professionals will often go back to school to pursue a graduate degree, or even a doctorate. Your job relies on your ability to provide valuable financial advice to clients. The pursuit of further education is a tangible way to demonstrate your commitment to providing excellent service as you continue in your career. Demand for financial advisors is high and will continue to grow as our society becomes more financially literate and recognizes the importance of making sound financial decisions. Now that you understand how to become a financial advisor, you are prepared to chart your own career path and get started providing valuable advice.

Free eBook: Career Path Stories from Finance Professionals

What if you could job shadow eight finance professionals in a wide variety of careers, with an array of career paths, all in a single day? We created this eBook to make that possible. Inside, we profile eight successful finance pros who at one time were in the same spot you're in now. We asked them what they do, what they like about it, and how they got to where they are today. We compiled their responses in this valuable eBook for college students planning to launch a finance career.