How do I become a financial advisor?

1 min readLast updated December 22, 2023by Kate Morgan

Becoming a financial advisor requires certain qualifications, experience and abilities – find out how you can qualify to work in this field.


  • Financial advisors offer advice and support to clients regarding a range of financial matters. 

  • In the US, you need certain qualifications and licenses to become a financial advisor. 

  • There are many different types of financial advisors. 

  • Financial advisors in the US earn between $36,000 and $144,000 per year. 

What is a financial advisor, and what do they do? 

If you were to become a financial advisor, you would offer advice and support to your clients on financial matters. These may include insurance, budgeting and investing, among others. 

Depending on their area of specialization, financial advisors offer a wide array of services, all ultimately aimed at supporting clients in achieving their financial objectives.  

Just a few of the other services that financial advisors may offer include: 

  • Estate planning  

  • Retirement planning  

  • Financial education  

  • Assistance with determining financial goals and enacting (and updating) appropriate financial plans 

  • Tax planning and management 

  • Debt management 

There are many different types of financial advisors, each with their own areas of expertise, requisite qualifications and registrations, career paths, and potential earnings. So, part of becoming a financial advisor entails exploring these various sub-categories to identify which would best suit your needs and abilities. 

How much does a financial advisor earn? 

Answers to this question vary, depending on where you live, as well as your qualifications, specializations, years of experience, and even how skilled you are at marketing yourself.  

Here’s an overview of annual salaries currently on offer if you become a financial advisor in the US, from the low to the high end, per ZipRecruiter

Low (25th percentile) $75,000
Mid (75th percentile) $131,000
High (90th percentile) $137,000
National average* $102,134

*Note that the average pay for financial advisors ranges greatly (by up to $56,000), with some only clearing $36,000 annually, while a fortunate few may take home as much as $144,000 per year.

What qualifications do you need to become a financial advisor? 

At a minimum, you’ll probably need a bachelor’s degree in finance, business or marketing or some equivalent qualification to get a job at a financial advisory firm.  

Depending on your role, you’ll also need to obtain certain licenses with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA): 

  • Securities Industry Essentials® (SIE®) Exam: You’ll need to pass this entry-level exam in order to gain access to qualification exams like the Series 6 and Series 7 Exams below. 

  • Series 7 (General Securities Representative Qualification) Exam 

  • Series 6 (Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative Qualification) Exam 

  • Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) Exam 

  • Series 65 (Uniform Investment Advisor Law) Exam 

  • Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law) Exam 

What skills do you need to become a financial advisor? 

Obviously, to become a financial advisor, you need a head for finance and numbers. Your success as a financial advisor will also depend on a number of soft skills: 

  • Confidence 

  • Communication skills 

  • People skills 

  • Openness to collaboration 

  • Ability to think laterally 

  • Salesmanship 

  • Conflict management 

How to become a financial advisor? 

Becoming a financial advisor in the US typically involves the following six steps: 

  1. Obtain a relevant bachelor’s degree. 

  2. Find a job, complete on-the-job training (which you’ll need to be eligible for the necessary licensing exams), and agree to your employer’s professional ethics code. 

  3. Pass a background check. 

  4. Attain the correct licenses. 

  5. Complete three years of work experience and begin building a book of business

  6. Attain further accreditation as a certified finance planner (CFP) or similar. 

How long does it take to become a financial advisor? 

To reach full qualification and become a financial advisor, including your certification exams, will take around six to seven years: 

  • Four years to achieve a bachelor’s degree 

  • One year of on-the-job experience and training under a qualified financial advisor 

  • Several weeks to pass your background check 

  • Several months each to prepare for licensing exams 

  • Around 2,500 hours each to prepare for FINRA qualification exams to become an accredited CFP or other 

  • Roughly two years of professional experience to qualify for said accreditations 

What should you consider before becoming a financial advisor? 

Before beginning your path to becoming a financial advisor, you should ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do I have the necessary soft skills and financial acumen to succeed in this profession? 

  • Do I have the ability, time and patience to attain the requisite qualifications and professional experience? 

  • Am I comfortable with the restrictions imposed on licensed financial advisors? 

  • Can I place the needs of my clients and my firm ahead of my own? 

  • Am I committed and motivated to pursue ongoing learning throughout my career? 

If you can honestly answer “yes” to all of these questions, then your prospects of success in becoming a financial advisor are highly favorable. 

Looking to work with Unbiased? 

Once you’ve completed your path to becoming a financial advisor, you’ll need to begin attracting clients.

Unbiased Pro can deliver potential clients straight to your inbox, provide you with the tools to convert leads and help you build a thriving business as a financial advisor. 

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.