How Do You Become a Certified Financial Planner

If you are looking to enter one of the fastest-growing finance markets in desperate need for acquiring new fresh talent, then you may want to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Many students have unfortunately been discouraged from entering the financial industry from reports of large job cuts on Wall Street, but the one industry job that has remained very stable and increasingly in demand throughout the recession is financial planning. Due to the vast number of baby boomers approaching retirement age and the fact that the average financial planner is now 50 years old, it is projected that employment in financial planning will skyrocket by 27% over the next decade with around 60,300 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In order to join this fast-growing finance profession, read on for a step-by-step guide for becoming a Certified Financial Planner.

Fulfill the Required Post-Secondary Training Requirements

Receiving certification will require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited post-secondary institution. While your four-year undergraduate program can be focused in any discipline to qualify, it is highly recommended that you increase your chances at success by majoring in finance, economics, accounting, business administration, mathematics, or even law. Beefing up your schedule with courses in investments, taxation, estate planning, and risk management will be particularly helpful. If you already have earned an accredited bachelor’s degree in another subject, there are around 300 universities in the United States that also offer a minimum 15-hour CFP certificate program to prepare for the exam.

Pass the Certified Financial Planner Examination

Once you develop the essential financial knowledge and skills, you are ready to take the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination, which is offered at testing locations around the nation each March, July, and November. As a computer-based test comprised of 170 multiple-choice questions, the CFP exam is focused on evaluating your abilities in integrating and applying a broad base of knowledge in the context of real-life financial planning situations. Before sitting for the exam, you will need to complete the exam application at least seven weeks prior to the testing date and include a one-time payment of $595. According to the CFP Board, you should complete plenty of online CFP practice tests to become familiar with the question structures before test day.

Acquire Three Years of Financial Planning Experience

You may think that receiving a passing score will immediately qualify you as a Certified Financial Planner, but you will then need to complete at least three years of work experience in the financial planning industry for the credentials to take full effect. According to the CFP Board, work experience will only fulfill this requirement if you are involved full-time in teaching, assisting, supervising, or delivering financial planning services to a client base for three years. In this case, one year of experience is considered to be equivalent to 2,000 hours of direct client contact in providing financial advice to people on investments, taxes, and insurances.

While it is estimated that there are around 223,400 financial planners employed across the United States, there are only a select few who have gone the extra mile to meet the rigorous requirements needed for earning the CFP credential for excellence. When you follow these important steps to become a Certified Financial Planner, you will have the best prospects for building your professional expertise, standing out among the crowd, and displaying your credibility in helping Americans struggling to plan their finances for a bright future.

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