When Do You Need a License to Work in the Field of Finance?

Finance students with an eye toward the future should be aware that there are some occasions when you need a license to work in the field of finance. While many finance roles don’t require candidates to get a license – and for many others, a voluntary professional credential will do – some finance occupations are only open to you if you go through the process of attaining licensure.

Professional Licenses in the Field of Finance

There are certain careers – like doctor, lawyer and public school teacher – that require candidates to attain a license to practice in their fields and maintain that license throughout their careers. When exactly is a job in the field of finance one of those careers?

If your job involves selling financial products or insurance, that’s when you need a license to work in the field of finance, according to U.S. News & World Report. You might not think of finance analysts or personal financial advisors as having much to do with the actual act of selling. However, personal financial advisors and financial analysts may directly buy stocks or bonds as investments or sell insurance policies to their individual and business clients, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, is the organization that typically licenses financial analyst positions and most other roles in the securities industry, according to the BLS. This isn’t something that you can achieve on your own or something that you need to worry about while you’re still in school, since licensure typically requires sponsorship by an employer, the BLS reported.

For personal financial advisors, it’s not just a matter of when you need a license to work in the field of finance, but also what licenses you need. The exact licenses personal financial advisors are required to have depends on precisely what financial items and services they choose to sell, the BLSL reported. For example, those who sell insurance policies must be licensed by state insurance boards. Often, they must also register with the Securities and Exchange Commission or with their state regulators.

Professional Finance Certifications Beyond Licensure

Even when you don’t need a license to work in the field of finance, there are other credentials that could be valuable, if not mandatory. Many aspiring finance workers choose to seek a professional certification or other credential that will help them stand out from the competition and impress prospective employers – and perhaps even qualify them for advancement opportunities and salary increases.

For example, many finance professionals seek the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) credential, the Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional credential and the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential, according to U.S. News & World Report.

If you’re wondering when you need a license to work in the field of finance, it makes sense to think about what exactly you want to do with your finance degree and what industry and job role you see yourself working in, since not every finance major will end up needing a license.

Related resource:

Top 10 Online Finance Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)