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Financial Advisor career Paths

Number of Jobs

60, 300

Median Salary

$67, 520

Unemployment Rate

2.0 percent

Financial advisors do what many people don’t like doing for themselves: figuring out how to manage their money. By meeting with clients and helping them determine budgeting and retirement plans, investing strategy and other financial responsibilities, advisors get their clients on track to meet their money goals. While many advisors start out working for larger financial services firms, about 20 percent work for themselves, often building up expertise in areas such as retirement planning or financial planning for small business owners. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors notes other specialties as well, including planning for same-sex couples, newlywed investors and individuals with special needs.

This is expected to be one of the faster-growing occupations over the next decade, with a projected growth rate of 27 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the Labor Department. That’s an additional 60, 300 new positions on top of the 175, 470 jobs financial advisors held in 2012. Demand for advisory services is expected to be driven by the wave of baby boomers retiring. (According to the Pew Research Center, the oldest of the boomers turned 65 in 2011.) At the same time, many companies are developing increasingly powerful online advisory tools that may meet consumers’ needs.

The median annual salary for financial advisors was $67, 520 in 2012, with the lowest-paid earning less than $32, 280 and the highest-paid earning at least $187, 199. On top of their salaries, many advisors earn substantial bonuses.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $111, 450
Median $67, 520
25th Percentile $44, 140


Earning the trust of clients hinges on building and maintaining a deep level of financial expertise. A bachelor's degree is necessary, and an advanced degree can be an effective marketing tool. Obtaining and maintaining the certified financial planner designation is recommended, as is membership in the Financial Planning Association or other industry groups. Advisors often obtain securities licenses and may earn substantial portions of their income through investment fees. Many advisors also sell insurance products, which requires state licensure and professional certification.

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Popular Q&A

Any one know anything about being a financial advisor. career path? average income? Earning potential?

Being a FA is basically being a salesperson. You're selling financial products to various people. It involves long hours and a lot of hard work. Forget about friends, family, and your whole social life at the beginning of your career.
Average FA makes up to $70 - 75K annually. Income fluctuates with how well the market does.
Earning potential is unlimited. Just like all sales jobs, income potential is dependent on how hard you work and is unlimited.

How To Start a Career as a Financial Advisor

Working as a financial advisor can be rewarding, both financially and emotionally. You will get to help people make informed decisions about how to handle their money, and you'll be paid well to do so. However, the competition is fierce - so you need to prepare yourself by getting the proper education and training. With the right credentials, you'll be on your way to a successful career as a financial advisor.

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