CFP Salary

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Are you considering a career as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or curious about potential earnings in this field? You should know that salary levels for CFPs can vary considerably due to factors such as the geographic location, experience, and employment type in question.

In our CFP Salary guide, we’ve broken down these factors in detail and prepared a comprehensive state-by-state salary breakdown to help you make informed career decisions in this dynamic sector.

Let’s take a closer look.

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How Much Does a CFP Make

The earning potential of Certified Financial Planners varies significantly across the United States, and is influenced by factors such as regional economic conditions, cost of living, and the local demand for financial planning services.

By combining data from the CFP Board Compensation Survey with state-specific salary information, we have provided a more detailed overview of what CFPs earn nationally and in each state.

National Median Salary

While the Certified Financial Planner Board Compensation Survey reports a national median salary of $192,000 for CFPs, this figure seems significantly higher compared to data from other sources like ZipRecruiter, Payscale, and Glassdoor.

Such discrepancies may arise from different data collection methods, sample sizes, and the inclusion of various compensation components like bonuses and commissions.

Market Salary Data

When evaluating the average salary for CFPs, we have considered labor statistics from multiple sources, including but not limited to ZipRecruiter, Payscale, and Glassdoor.

Each of these platforms employ their unique methodologies in order to gather and analyze salary information using a combination of direct user-reported data, comprehensive surveys, industry-specific research, and sophisticated algorithm-based predictions.

However, it’s important to recognize that while this data offers valuable insights, it comes with inherent limitations and represents a snapshot in time, due to the ever-evolving and dynamic nature of the financial planning industry.

Therefore, these figures should be viewed as informative guides providing a general understanding of salary trends rather than definitive, unchangeable benchmarks.

ZipRecruiter

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a CFP in the United States is $101,940.

This average encompasses a wide range, with salaries starting as low as $61,000 and extending up to $141,000. The data indicates that the majority of CFP salaries fall between $87,000 and $114,500, while the top earners in the field make approximately $137,500 annually.

Payscale

Payscale’s analysis presents a different perspective, reporting the average salary for a CFP at $73,190.

When you adjust this in order to include additional compensation — such as bonuses and profit sharing — the total pay for a CFP on Payscale ranges between $55,000 and $136,000.

This suggests a significant variability in total compensation, which can be attributed to factors like experience, location, and individual performance.

Glassdoor

Glassdoor’s estimates further contribute to understanding the salary landscape for CFPs.

As of early 2024, Glassdoor puts the total estimated pay for a Certified Financial Planner at around $113,448 per year, with the base salary averaging at $100,151. This figure aligns closely with the higher end of the salary ranges reported by other sources, highlighting the potential for CFPs to achieve six-figure earnings.

State-by-State Salary Breakdown

For a more detailed view, we’ve compiled a state-specific breakdown of CFP salaries:

StateAverage Salary Range
Alabama$90,000 – $120,000
Alaska$105,000 – $135,000
Arizona$95,000 – $125,000
Arkansas$85,000 – $115,000
California$105,563
Colorado$100,000 – $130,000
Connecticut$105,000 – $135,000
Delaware$110,000 – $140,000
Florida$95,000 – $125,000
Georgia$90,000 – $120,000
Hawaii$105,000 – $135,000
Idaho$90,000 – $120,000
Illinois$98,357
Indiana$90,000 – $120,000
Iowa$85,000 – $115,000
Kansas$85,000 – $115,000
Kentucky$85,000 – $115,000
Louisiana$90,000 – $120,000
Maine$95,000 – $125,000
Maryland$99,557
Massachusetts$103,874
Michigan$95,423
Minnesota$95,000 – $125,000
Mississippi$85,000 – $115,000
Missouri$90,000 – $120,000
Montana$90,000 – $120,000
Nebraska$85,000 – $115,000
Nevada$100,000 – $130,000
New Hampshire$100,000 – $130,000
New Jersey$110,000 – $140,000
New Mexico$90,000 – $120,000
New York$110,469
North Carolina$95,000 – $125,000
North Dakota$85,000 – $115,000
Ohio$97,981
Oklahoma$85,000 – $115,000
Oregon$100,000 – $130,000
Pennsylvania$102,042
Rhode Island$105,000 – $135,000
South Carolina$90,000 – $120,000
South Dakota$85,000 – $115,000
Tennessee$90,000 – $120,000
Texas$95,000 – $125,000
Utah$95,000 – $125,000
Vermont$108,384
Virginia$95,000 – $125,000
Washington$123,793
West Virginia$85,000 – $115,000
Wisconsin$90,000 – $120,000
Wyoming$90,000 – $120,000

Note: The list includes all 50 states, offering a comprehensive picture of CFP salaries nationwide.

Keep in mind that a significant number of CFPs are employed in salaried financial advisor positions at banks and other financial institutions. These roles typically offer a stable base salary, often complemented by performance-based bonuses, adding an element of variability to the total compensation.

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For a more detailed overview of the CFP qualification, check out our CFP Certification article.

Factors Influencing Salary

As we’ve already briefly talked about, the salary of an average Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is not uniform but varies based on several key factors, including:

Experience

The salary of a CFP is significantly influenced by experience. For instance, entry-level CFPs with 1-4 years of financial experience average around $67,560 annually, while those with over 20 years in the field obtain an average income of $102,000.

Geographic Impact

Salaries in states like California and New York are on the higher end, reflecting the higher cost of living and the concentration of wealth. In contrast, states like Arkansas and Mississippi, where the cost of living is lower, have comparatively lower salary ranges.

Type of Employment

The mode of employment significantly influences a CFP’s earnings. Those in salaried positions often benefit from a stable income, but might encounter a ceiling in terms of earning potential. Conversely, commission-based or independent consulting roles can offer higher earnings but with less income stability.

For example, CFPs working on commission may have the potential to earn significantly more based on the financial products they sell or the volume of clients they manage.

Specialization

CFPs who specialize in areas such as estate planning, tax optimization, or investment management often command higher fees and salaries. This is due to the specialized knowledge and expertise required in these fields, which are highly valued by clients with complex financial needs.

For instance, a CFP specializing in estate planning may be able to earn more by catering to high-net-worth individuals with intricate estate management requirements.

Firm Size and Client Base

Working for larger financial institutions or firms often comes with higher salaries, reflecting the scale and resources of these organizations.

In contrast, CFPs at smaller firms or those working independently might have different earning potentials, heavily influenced by the size and wealth of their client base. A CFP managing affluent clients or a large client base can experience a significant increase in earnings.

Understanding these factors will give you a more comprehensive view of what can influence a CFP’s salary and help you make more informed decisions about your potential earnings and career trajectory.

CFP Jobs

CFPs have a range of career options available to them due to their specialized skills and comprehensive understanding of financial planning. Here are some common CFP roles — each with their own job description:

  • Financial Planner: This is the most direct application of the CFP certification. Certified financial planners — also known as personal financial advisors — provide personal finance planning, insurance, and estate planning services to individuals and families
  • Wealth Manager: These CFPs specialize in managing the finances of high-net-worth individuals. They focus on investment management, estate planning, tax optimization, and more
  • Estate Planner: Focused on advising clients on wills, trusts, and estate taxes, these CFPs help secure their clients’ financial future for themselves and their heirs
  • Retirement Planner: These CFPs specialize in planning and advising clients on how to achieve financial security through retirement planning
  • Tax Advisor: Though not a substitute for a certified public accountant (CPA), a CFP who specializes in tax planning can offer clients valuable advice on how to optimize taxes through investments, deductions, and other strategies
  • Investment Advisor: A CFP in this role guides clients on investment opportunities and risk management

Each of these roles has its own set of responsibilities, challenges, and rewards as well as a different earning potential. That makes the CFP certification a versatile qualification for a variety of career paths.

How to Get Your CFP Certification

To attain the CFP designation, you must fulfill specific educational prerequisites, pass an exam, get relevant professional experience, and follow ethical standards.

To become a CFP, you’ll need to have:

  • A bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university; and
  • Three years of full-time personal financial planning experience or the equivalent part-time experience. (Note: 2,000 hours equals one year of full-time experience)

After you meet the above prerequisites, you must complete a CFP Board Registered Program. This coursework includes various financial planning topics, including:

  • Income and savings strategies
  • Tax planning
  • Investment planning
  • Retirement and estate planning
  • Risk management and insurance

For individuals who already possess certain advanced degrees or professional credentials, the CFP Board provides a fast-track option to expedite the CFP certification process.

To qualify for this accelerated route to CFP certification, you must have one of these designated licenses or credentials

  • Certified public accountant (CPA)
  • Licensed attorney
  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA)
  • Doctorate in business administration, financial planning, finance, or economics
  • Chartered financial consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered life underwriter (CLU)
  • CFP certification from outside the United States (e.g., from the Financial Planning Standards Board affiliate located in the candidate’s territory of residence)

After completing the necessary coursework or meeting the accelerated path requirements to CFP certification, you must register and pass the CFP exam.

Note: All candidates must comply with the CFP Board’s guidelines for professional conduct. This requires you to operate under a fiduciary duty and disclose information about yourself pertaining to any criminal conduct, government investigations, bankruptcies, customer complaints, or disputes related to employment law.

Exam Preparation and Procedure

Preparing for the CFP exam can seem daunting given its comprehensive nature and the depth of understanding required in a variety of financial planning topics. 

Here are some tips to help you maximize your chances of passing the exam on your first try:

  • Understand the exam structure. The exam includes 170 multiple-choice questions split across two, three-hour sessions — both conducted within a single day
  • Develop a study plan. Outline a comprehensive study plan several months in advance of your exam date. Break down the syllabus into manageable portions and allocate specific time slots for each section. As a best practice, you should allocate between 150 and 250 hours for your exam preparation
  • Use official study materials. Make sure to use the official study materials and guides provided by the CFP Board. Tailored specifically for this exam, these resources often include practice questions and case studies that mirror the exam format
  • Take practice exams. Regularly taking full-length practice exams can help you gauge your exam readiness, identify weak areas, and get used to the exam format. Time yourself during these mock exams to simulate the real test conditions

By following these tips, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the CFP exam with confidence.

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CFP Salary FAQ

Can a CFP make a lot of money?

Absolutely. A career as a Certified Financial Planner can offer significant earnings. Salaries for CFPs can range broadly, from around $61,000 to upwards of $141,000 annually, depending on factors like location, experience, and type of employment. For more information, see our CFP Salary article.

What pays more, a CFP or CFA job?

Both CFP and CFA roles are highly rewarding, but their earning potential varies based on industry and job role. CFAs, typically working in investment banking or asset management, may have higher starting salaries. However, CFPs, with diverse income models including fee-based advising, also have excellent job prospects. For more information take a look at our CFP Certification article.

Is it worth becoming a CFP?

It can be. Choosing a career as a Certified Financial Planner offers substantial rewards, blending financial gains with job satisfaction. Moreover, the CFP profession is not just financially rewarding but also fulfilling in terms of job satisfaction. According to a survey conducted by the CFP Board, professionals with the CFP certification report high levels of satisfaction with their career choice.

How long does it take to become a CFP?

Becoming a CFP generally takes about four to five years, which includes obtaining a bachelor’s degree, completing specific financial planning coursework, and acquiring relevant professional experience. Keep in mind however, that individuals with certain advanced degrees or professional credentials may be eligible for an accelerated pathway, which can reduce this time frame significantly.

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For all related articles, have a look at our Financial Advisor Resources page.