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Getting Started in the Securities Industry

Step 1: Get to Know FINRA and NASAA—If You Haven’t Already

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the organization in charge of securities licensing and requirements, and it also administers most of the exams you’ll need to pass to get your license. North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) is the association of state securities administrators who are charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers who purchase securities or investment advice. It’s important to get to know these organizations and keep up with their activities as they set the requirements for qualification exams.

Step 2: Determine Which Securities License or Licenses You’ll Need

You can’t sell securities at a brokerage firm without being licensed. The types of licenses you’ll need depend on the brokerage that’s hiring or sponsoring you. Most of those who hire or train new advisors will have a mandatory licensing program included in their training package, and almost all firms mandate which securities licenses must be obtained to sell the company's products and services. If you intend to be a Registered Investment Advisor or an independent broker-dealer, you’ll also need to be licensed. 

For most candidates, the first step to becoming licensed is to take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. This exam can be taken without corporate sponsorship, and is often viewed as a competitive edge if you're trying to get your foot in the door. If you plan to earn a Series 6, Series 7, Series 79, and Series 99, you will have to first pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam.

Step 3: Check Your Exam Requirements

There might be additional requirements for selling securities in your state or the state where you want to be licensed. You should check with the respective office of the Secretary of State to learn about anything else you need to do to earn your securities license. You can also view exam details and requirements for each of the qualification exams by choosing the series here and clicking on the Exam Details page.

Step 4: Study for and Take the Exams—and Pass

If you need more detailed information about getting started, reference our Candidate's Complete Guide to the SIE Exam here. Are you ready to get started? Great! Kaplan has industry-leading products to make sure you pass the first time. You can prepare by deciding which of our study packages fits your learning style and schedule.