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How Do I Become a Certified Financial Planner™?

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  • Written By: Gabriele Sturmer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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A Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) helps his or her clients plan for their financial futures by helping plan for retirement, obtaining the best insurance for particular situations and assessing financial goals. The job encompasses a variety of duties that range from preparing an initial financial plan to carrying out and monitoring the plan. The nature of the job means a Certified Financial Planner™ spends much of his or her job working with the public. To become a Certified Financial Planner™, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree, take an approved CFP® course, pass the certification exam and have three years of experience in financial planning.

You will need a bachelor's degree and also will need to take a CFP® program at a college registered by the Certified Financial Planner™ Board to become a Certified Financial Planner™. Such a program typically consists of five or six courses that cover the body of knowledge for the exam, including investments, estate planning, employee benefits, financial planning processes and tax planning. Those who hold specific higher degrees or certifications may be allowed to take the certification exam without this program; however, you will have to submit your college transcript to be considered. If you decide not to get a degree or certificate from a registered program, you can still take the certification exam but will need to obtain an accepted degree or certification before gaining certification.

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If you want to become a Certified Financial Planner™, you will next take the Certified Financial Planner™ exam that covers various areas of accounting processes, financial analysis, economics, insurance and business law. The exam asks you to apply to various problems the things you've learned in your studies. You will have to apply for the exam and pay a fee, and the exam is typically given over a period of two days.

After you pass the CFP® exam, you still won't become a Certified Financial Planner™ until you meet the experience requirements. You'll need at least three years of experience working full-time in financial planning and will have to submit documentation of your experience to the CFP® Board. This experience can come either before you take the initial exam or after it as long as it meets the minimum requirement of at least three years. You will also have to agree to a code of ethics. After you gain your certification, you will need to have 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your status.

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