Series 63 vs Series 7

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

Wondering what the difference is between the Series 63 vs Series 7 exams? You’re not alone. This guide is designed just for you, aiming to clarify the distinctions, requirements, and potential career paths tied to each exam.

Cut through the confusion and discover which exam aligns best with your professional goals with our all-inclusive overview.

Let’s get started.

What’s the Difference?

Knowing the ins and outs of Series 63 and Series 7 is vital, as one focuses on state law compliance for securities transactions, and the other enables you to deal with a broad range of financial products at a federal level.

 Let’s take a closer look at each qualification below.

What is the Series 63

If your goal is to specialize in state-level financial transactions, the Series 63 is a must-have license.

While it may not offer the wide-ranging permissions of the Series 7, it plays a pivotal role in ensuring you are in compliance with state regulations when you sell securities.

Here are a few important facts that you should keep in mind about the Series 63 license: 

  • Scope of Practice: Series 63 is often called a “blue-sky license,” which grants you the ability to act as a securities agent only within a particular state. Specifically, it’s essential for those looking to sell mutual funds, stocks, or bonds in compliance with state laws
  • Regulatory Authority: This license is governed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) while the actual exam is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Series 63 exam focuses deeply on the Uniform Securities Act and the ethical and fiduciary obligations you will face when working in a single state
  • Career Implications: With a Series 63 license, you can serve as a securities agent, which means you can handle the sale of financial products like mutual funds, variable annuities, and unit investment trusts. However, it’s almost always accompanied by a Series 6 or Series 7 license, making it an additional but crucial step for comprehensive financial services at the state level

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 63 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Alternatively, you can have a look at our How to Get Your Series 63 License article.

What is the Series 7

The Series 7 qualification provides you with the authority to engage in the broader financial marketplace, from selling individual securities like stocks and bonds to advising on investment strategies. 

It’s the comprehensive credential you’ll need if you’re aiming for a versatile career in finance that can take you places beyond state lines.

  • Scope of Practice: Series 7 is the license for you if you want to deal in a wider range of financial products. This means you can sell stocks, bonds, options, and limited partnerships, but not just within one state — across the entire US.
  • Regulatory Authority: This exam is managed by FINRA. Unlike Series 63, it encompasses a wider set of regulations and products, including topics such as taxation, debt instruments, investment risk, and packaged securities like mutual funds.
  • Career Implications: A Series 7 license qualifies you for roles with far-reaching responsibilities, including stockbroking and financial consulting. Unlike Series 63, which is confined to state-specific transactions, Series 7 serves as a foundation for other specialized FINRA licenses, such as the Series 24 for supervisory roles or Series 66, which combines elements of the Series 63 and Series 65 exams.

Keep in mind that the Series 7 license is ideal for those looking to operate broadly in the securities industry, while Series 63 is targeted at those who need to meet state-specific regulations. 

Both certifications have their unique importance depending on your career ambitions.

Recommended Course

Over 81% of our readers use Kaplan’s online courses — which come with a 93% pass rate — when preparing for their Series 7 exam. For comprehensive study packages, StateRequirement recommends:

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

For more information, check out our in-depth article on How to Get a Series 7 License.

Certification Requirements

Understanding the specific prerequisites and exam details for Series 7 and Series 63 can help you prepare more effectively. Remember that each license has distinct requirements that reflect the scope of responsibilities it permits.

Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about each exam’s format, subjects, and costs.

Series 63

The Series 63 exam is much more specialized and state-focused. If your ambitions lie in becoming proficient in state securities regulations, then it’s crucial to understand the exam format and the costs involved.

  • Exam Length: The test duration for Series 63 is just 75 minutes
  • Exam Topics: It’s primarily geared towards topics like registration of persons and securities, along with ethical and fiduciary obligations within a specific state
  • Cost: The exam is slightly more affordable, costing around $147

Given its shorter length and reduced cost, Series 63 serves as an essential but more specialized certification, often accompanying Series 7 or Series 6 for those looking to operate within state boundaries.

Series 7

Getting the Series 7 isn’t just a matter of knowing your way around securities. It’s crucial to grasp the specific topics you’ll be tested on, the exact duration of the exam, and the actual out-of-pocket costs. These elements shape not only your study approach but also your financial planning for the exam.

  • Exam Length: The Series 7 exam has a duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes
  • Exam Topics: The exam is comprehensive, covering complex topics like equity and debt instruments, mutual funds, retirement plans, and customer accounts. Knowing this can help you allocate study time effectively across subjects
  • Cost: With an exam fee of approximately $300, you’ll want to be sure you’re ready to avoid retaking it

The Series 7 is not just a test; it’s an investment of both time and money. Being aware of these elements can help you create a study plan that is both thorough and budget-conscious.

Which Qualification is Better for You?

The decision between Series 7 and Series 63 will have long-term impacts on your career trajectory. Knowing the strengths and limitations of each can help you make an informed choice based on your specific goals and constraints. Let’s dive into scenarios that could make one more suitable than the other for you.

  • If You Value Versatility: With a Series 7 license, you’re not just limited to selling stocks, bonds, and options. You can also deal in municipal securities, direct participation programs, and investment company products. This opens doors to a broad range of financial roles, including financial consultant, investment advisor, and even roles in investment banking
  • If You’re Geographically Focused: If your career plans include operating within a specific state, Series 63 is a necessary credential. It makes you compliant with state laws and regulations and is often a secondary requirement after obtaining a Series 7 or Series 6 license. This means if you want to engage in intrastate stock sales or even deal with mutual funds in a specific state, Series 63 is your go-to certification
  • Speed to Market: If you’re eager to jump into the workforce as quickly as possible, Series 63 offers a faster route. The exam is only 75 minutes long and typically requires less study time compared to the Series 7. This could make it a better option if you’re looking for a quicker transition into a finance role
  • Career Advancement: The Series 7 license serves as a stepping stone for additional specialized FINRA licenses, including Series 24 for supervisory roles and Series 66, which combines aspects of Series 63 and Series 65. So, if you have long-term ambitions for leadership roles or more specialized financial careers, Series 7 may offer a more scalable path

By taking your career goals, geographic focus, time constraints, and financial resources into account, you can better determine whether Series 7 or Series 63 aligns more closely with your professional trajectory.

If you’re interested in learning more about both qualifications, check out Kaplan Financial’s Wealth Management page.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Education Company

Series 63 vs Series 7 FAQ

Is the Series 7 or 63 harder?

The Series 7 exam is usually considered more challenging due to its extensive coverage of various financial topics and a longer exam duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes. On the other hand, the Series 63 exam is shorter at 75 minutes and focuses solely on state laws, making it more specialized but generally easier.

Should you take Series 7 or 63 first?

Choosing which exam to take first largely depends on your career aspirations. If you’re aiming for a wide-ranging role in the financial industry, Series 7 would be the logical first step. However, if your focus is more state-specific, Series 63 could be your starting point.

Do you need both a Series 7 and 63?

Holding both the Series 7 and Series 63 licenses can significantly broaden your career options. Series 7 is more comprehensive, covering federal-level securities, while Series 63 will ensure you’re compliant with individual state laws. Many financial roles, especially those that deal with a variety of financial products, will require both licenses.

Can you get a Series 63 without a degree?

Yes, you can obtain a Series 63 license without a college degree. However, having only a high school diploma may limit your career advancement opportunities in the long run. If you’re planning on a career in finance, additional education and certifications could be beneficial.

What percentage of people pass the Series 63?

When comparing Series 63 vs Series 7, the Series 63 exam generally has a higher pass rate, often exceeding 70%. However, this shouldn’t be a reason for complacency. It’s crucial to prepare thoroughly for the exam, as pass rates can fluctuate and individual experiences may vary.

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