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What does a Financial Planner do?

Financial planners provide a valuable service to individuals who need help with personal finances, investments and retirement planning. Starting with a general overview of income, expenses and savings, a financial planner guides a client through the process of setting short term goals, long term goals, and a step-by-step action plan. Financial planners, also known as personal financial advisors, recommend appropriate types of savings plans and investments and can place orders for stocks, bonds or insurance.

financial planner

An effective financial planner will meet one-on-one with a client, conducting an interview that covers more than just the individual’s savings and investments. Personalized financial planning also takes into account:

  • Outstanding debts, such as mortgages, car loans, credit cards
  • Tax bracket and tax advice needs
  • Insurance coverage for property, health care and disability
  • Investment risk tolerance
  • Wills or estate plans
  • Retirement wish list

Preparation for a career as a financial planner

A college education is required for a prospective financial planner. You should expect to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like business, accounting, finance or law. Course work generally includes math, economics, investments, taxes and estate planning. Many candidates in this competitive field go on to earn master’s degrees. Financial planners also need licenses for direct buying and selling of stocks, mutual funds, bonds and insurance.

Good people skills are crucial for financial planners. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29 percent of personal financial advisors are self-employed, placing a high priority on attracting and keeping a healthy client base. Even those who work for banks, brokerages or securities firms deal with a variety of personalities and financial sophistication levels and need good marketing skills and the ability to explain and simplify complex financial concepts.

Employment outlook for financial planners

With so many baby boomers approaching retirement age, expecting to live longer, and relying more heavily on their retirement funds, the job outlook for financial planners is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth of 30 percent for this occupation.

Salary and career advancement are possible through promotion and certification. You could seek promotion to a higher management level, or move to a position as private banker at a large bank. You could found your own business or start a branch office of a securities or brokerage firm. After spending three years as a working personal financial advisor, you could apply for a Certified Financial Planner credential. Testing for this certification is provided by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

What does an Investment Advisor do?

Choosing a career as an investment advisor places you in the circles of high finance and on the path to a well-paying position. With a solid education in finance, you have the opportunity to understand the movement of money and its effects. Once you gain sufficient experience, you can become a major player in the field. The training required is rigorous and heavily dependent on the principles of accounting, banking, stock market activities, statistical analysis and sales. As an investment advisor, your success depends on helping clients invest their money wisely and seeing that money grow.

investment advisor

Educational requirements for an investment advisor

A four year bachelor’s degree provides a solid grounding in finance and business principles. However, the Master of Business Administration is quickly becoming a minimum requirement for advancement in the field since there are a limited number of good positions and many candidates. The MBA normally takes two years more of study but adds quality to your credentials and leads to better job opportunities. Along with your academic training, you benefit by learning from the ground up. An internship gives you the chance to participate and depending on your performance, the possibility of permanent employment. Along with the MBA, certification as a chartered financial analyst further qualifies you for a favorable position in the field.

Investment advisor career paths

As an investment advisor, you can specialize in one or more fields. The stock market is fast moving and carries the potential for a large income. When helping clients increase their wealth, your compensation will grow along with their earnings. In banking, you help clients invest profitably and become a key player yourself. Real estate and insurance offer opportunities for an investment advisor to become a top business executive. In these careers, your social skills must be excellent and can lead to success and profitability.

Outlook for the future

The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees only average growth in this field, around 9 percent. Electronic financial participation by individuals has made investment easier for those individuals, but as a good investment advisor, your expertise can have a positive impact on their efforts. There are many candidates for available positions so you need to become very competitive and persistent in your efforts.

What does a Medical Billing Specialist do?

Medical billing specialists are just one part in a larger group of medical records and health information technicians. This is the group of professionals who are responsible for patients’ health information and for ensuring the security of their data. Involved in these responsibilities is coding, a procedure which uses special billing codes applied to patients’ diagnoses in order to get their medical care reimbursed by their insurance program.

You might choose medical billing as a profession if you are interested in pursuing a career in health care but do not necessarily wish to do hands-on work with patients.

medical billing specialist

Educational requirements

Students pursuing a career in medical billing should focus on coursework in math, biology, chemistry, computer science, health, finance and accounting.

Upon entry into the health information field, billing specialists may be favored if they have been credentialed by Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). This type of registration is the result of the completion of a 2-year associate degree program offered by one of the 200 accredited Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) programs.

There are also many certificate, baccalaureate and master’s degree programs available to students in the health information field. Should you choose to pursue a career in medical billing and become credentialed, you will most likely be required to maintain your credential by completing continuing education courses and re-registering with the program on a regular basis.

Job outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of jobs available to medical billing specialists and other medical records and health information technicians to increase by 20 percent. This is “much faster than average” according to the BLS and translates into great opportunities for current specialists and future graduates of certificate and credential programs. The increase in demand is a result of the expected health issues facing an aging population of baby boomers and the subsequent number of tests and treatments they will need. Specifically, these medical procedures will need recording, coding and billing, which in turn translates into increased demand for specialists.