The New Hot Career: Financial Planner?

Financial planner consults with young coupleBy Maryalene LaPonsie

Many Americans believe they're living within their means -- even while they regularly spend more than they earn. That was one finding of a recent Country Financial survey.

But while some Americans may be confused about the real state of their family finances, that is an opportunity for personal financial advisers or financial planners. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 32 percent growth in the coming decade, making this a hot career. In addition, advisers are well compensated: average annual pay in 2011 was $90,900.

Helping Families See The Light: Personal financial advisers and financial planners offer one-on-one consultations that can be used to work out kinks in the budget, rev up savings or meet long-term financial goals.

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While there is no shortage of DIY budgeting books, online tools and other resources available, sometimes you need to call in a professional. Personal financial advisers can offer an objective review of a family's finances and spot red flags such as regular overspending. Once the problem has been identified, they can make recommendations for a realistic budget that will stick.

Advisers may work with financial firms or be self-employed. Many schedule appointments in the evenings or on the weekend when it may be more convenient for clients to meet. Generally, they will review financial information, work with clients to identify goals and then implement a financial plan. Some personal financial advisers may also sell insurance and investment products.

More: Great Finance Jobs That Don't Require An MBA

Becoming A Financial Planner: Financial advisers need a bachelor's degree for most entry-level jobs. Degrees in finance, economics, business or accounting are relevant choices for those interested in working as an adviser. Some professionals then go on to earn a master's degree in business administration or finance to increase their opportunities of moving into managerial positions or otherwise advancing their career.

Personal financial advisers who wish to sell insurance or investment products may need to be licensed by their state and/or registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, there is a voluntary Certified Financial Planner credential available. Offered through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the designation is available to advisers with a bachelor's degree and three years of experience who have also passed a board exam.

Looking for a job as a financial planner? Start your search now.
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Western Michigan University.

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