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10 Best Degrees for a Career as a Stockbroker
What to study to become a stockbroker

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Stockbrokers work with individuals and institutions to buy and sell stocks or other securities for them. In return for their services, brokers receive a commission. Since the duties of stockbrokers can be complex, they must pass exams and become licensed to sell or buy securities legally. They do economic research, analyze business data, study the markets and use calculations to make predictions and suggestions.

While many stockbrokers were self-made success stories in the past, most modern brokers have a formal education today. A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement for being hired at a firm. There is no specific degree path to become a stockbroker. Most companies that hire aspiring brokers want them to have a degree in a related field. These are some of the top related degree options that are helpful for aspiring stockbrokers.

1. Finance

Most academic advisors recommend that students who want to become stockbrokers choose a degree in finance or financial services. Many schools offer bachelor’s degree programs, and some schools offer master’s degree programs in this field.

How a Finance Degree Helps

Stockbrokers must conduct thorough and meticulous financial analyses. They must know the right methods to use to make critical decisions that help their clients. Also, they must know how to make investment decisions and how to perform the right research to make those decisions. Stockbrokers must also have a firm understanding of financial planning to help their clients create strategies that focus on the present and the future. Additionally, they must know how to use the right management techniques to maintain client accounts and relationships. In a finance or financial services degree program, students learn each of these skills and more. They also learn important communication skills to help them work with a variety of stakeholders.

Types of Classes in Finance Degree Programs

Some schools offer students the opportunity to earn a finance degree with a special area of focus. For example, some may offer degree specializations in corporate finance or a similar field. These are a few of the subjects that are included in a finance degree program:

  • Financial analysis
  • Business principles
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Business law
  • Project management
  • Managerial accounting
  • Business strategy
  • Statistics

2. Accounting

Accounting is another good degree choice. An accounting degree program gives aspiring stockbrokers a thorough knowledge of all accounting principles, tax matters, basic business operations and more.

How an Accounting Degree Helps

When stockbrokers develop plans and analyze trends, they must be able to use calculations to make predictions and accurately quantify past trends. One reason why accounting is so useful for stockbrokers is because they learn important information relating to taxes. Although some clients may have accountants of their own that stockbrokers will work with, this is not the case in every firm or position. Understanding the tax implications of different decisions can be especially beneficial when stockbrokers use their other skills to identify economic trends, develop financial plans and work on other important tasks.

Types of Classes in Accounting Degree Programs

To become certified as an accountant, a degree holder must have a minimum of 150 credit hours of qualifying education. Public accounting programs satisfy this. However, some bachelor’s programs are only 120 credit hours. Although most classes in accounting degree programs have a financial focus, there are other important core courses that provide a well-rounded education. These are a few of the main class examples:

  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Accounting software and information systems
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Auditing

3. Business

Although some schools offer business management or business administration degrees, others offer general business degree paths. There may be a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts choice. The main difference is that a bachelor of science program focuses more on technical skills, and the bachelor of arts program focuses more on communication and writing. Communication, writing and technical skills are all useful for stockbrokers. Since there is no specific degree path to becoming a stockbroker, both degree choices are good.

How a Business Degree Helps

Stockbrokers need to have sharp analytical skills and the ability to make complex calculations. Although they often work with individuals, many work with companies and organizations as well. When this is the case, it helps to have a deep understanding of how businesses earn and allocate money. A degree in business gives a student a broader perspective about economics, finance, management and a variety of other useful topics. These are all necessary for stockbrokers. A general business degree, whether it has a focus on arts or sciences, will help a person prepare for the necessary functions of becoming a personal or institutional stockbroker.

Types of Classes in Business Degree Programs

The specific classes vary depending on the degree program. Some schools offer a minor or a specialty focus option as well. These are some examples of the main types of business classes:

  • Business management principles
  • Business law
  • Statistics
  • Accounting
  • Communications
  • Ethics
  • Marketing

4. International Business

This degree path has a strong focus on practical applications of business. However, it also focuses on international relations in business.

How an International Business Degree Helps

A degree in international business can open up new opportunities for stockbrokers in the future. This is true for those who seek employment in firms or choose to work on their own. With a degree in international business, a person gains a broader knowledge of international business principles, finance with an international focus and global economy issues. These are all important to know for working with international markets. Although stockbrokers in the United States may not be able to directly trade on foreign exchanges, they can work with licensed international brokers in certain locations to offer a broader range of choices to individual and institutional clients. For those who are looking to expand and offer more services than competitors, this can be highly advantageous.

Types of Classes in International Business Degree Programs

Some programs have internship requirements. For example, one school requires students to complete a domestic internship and a foreign internship to finish the degree program. People who consider this degree path should understand all internship requirements and financial implications before enrolling. These are some examples of classes in an international business degree program:

  • Managerial and financial accounting
  • International finance
  • Cross-cultural management
  • International economics
  • Business management principles
  • Business law
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics

5. Economics

Economics is the study of the economy and the factors that influence it. In the United States, foreign trade, conflicts, technology trends and many other factors affect the economy.

How an Economics Degree Helps

Since many issues affect the economy in the United States, public companies are also affected. Although internal issues and other factors also affect their performance on a stock exchange, the economy is a complex part of the puzzle that is highly beneficial for stockbrokers to understand. When a stockbroker understands economics, it is easier to conduct thorough research and use important insights to help guide suggestions for clients. In an economics program, a student learns about the different components of the economy, the financial aspects that affect it and how all the components fit together to produce important information about trends. Being able to make economic predictions based on past trends is also a helpful skill that students may learn.

Types of Classes in Economics Degree Programs

Aspiring stockbrokers who choose an economics degree path also create other future career opportunities if they want to pursue a second goal or change paths later. There are a wide variety of other careers, such as economist, bank examiner, financial analyst and more. These are some of the main types of classes in an economics program:

  • Econometrics
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Business communications
  • Information systems
  • Statistics
  • Environmental studies

6. Business Administration

Business administration prepares students to handle a wide array of business management aspects, and they can choose a special area of study. For example, they may choose healthcare administration, finance, information technology or human resources. There are many other choices. Several schools offer a bachelor’s degree in business administration. However, people who want to become stockbrokers and eventually move up in a firm to senior roles should consider a master’s degree in business administration. It only takes about an extra two years or less to complete an online MBA program.

How a Business Administration Degree Helps

Business administration helps a person understand the complexities of planning a business, running a business and even planning exit strategies. Students learn about identifying threats, weaknesses, opportunities and more. They learn about business strategies, finance, investments, economics and other financial topics. These are all important skills for a stockbroker. It helps to pick a cognate or specialty that relates to stockbroking, such as finance, economics, international business or accounting.

Types of Classes in Business Administration Degree Programs

In a master’s program, the classes are more applied and go deeper into subjects that students learn during a bachelor’s degree program. In addition to the classes that a student chooses for a specialty, these are the types of classes in a bachelor’s degree program for business administration:

  • Business law
  • Information systems
  • Statistics
  • Accounting
  • Management principles
  • Organizational leadership

7. Business Management

Although business management and business administration include many of the same classes, they are somewhat different. The main difference is that a degree in business management focuses more on organizing and planning, and a degree in business administration provides a robust background with the opportunity to choose a specialty area.

How a Business Management Degree Helps

Since business management degree programs teach organizational, research and planning skills, students gain a better understanding of how to apply those skills as a stockbroker. A stockbroker must be able to plan, manage and maintain multiple accounts. This requires a high level of detail-oriented behavior. Also, business management includes important classes that relate to economics, finance, accounting and other subjects that help stockbrokers complete their research to make informed and smart recommendations.

Types of Classes in Business Management Degree Programs

If stockbrokers want to pursue a different career later, they have many options with a degree in business management. These are the main types of classes that are included in a bachelor’s degree program in this field:

  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Professional communications
  • Accounting and statistics
  • Human resource management
  • Marketing
  • Business strategy

8. Statistics

Statistics involves analyzing data sets and turning the information into useful ratios or other calculations. In some related degree programs, students learn the basics of using statistical computations, and they may take a class or two about theories. However, a degree in statistics provides more in-depth knowledge of complex calculations, theories and methods of reporting.

How a Statistics Degree Helps

Stockbrokers can use a wide variety of ratios to determine the health of a business. For example, if a stockbroker wants to research a company to see if it will be a good investment option, the broker may use ratios to measure profitability, liquidity and more. These ratios can be more difficult to understand without an in-depth knowledge of statistics. Also, stockbrokers use a variety of ratios that are related to financial data, and a statistics degree program typically includes a good education about financial statements and business finance principles.

Types of Classes in Statistics Degree Programs

The classes in these degree programs are mostly in science categories. Some colleges offer a general studies degree with a focus in statistics, and others offer a bachelor’s degree specifically in statistics. Also, many colleges offer a master’s degree in statistics for those who want to become statisticians. These are the main types of classes in bachelor’s degree programs:

  • Data analysis and linear models
  • Theoretical statistics
  • Calculus for science and engineering
  • Data mining
  • Differential equations

Since a statistics degree program is so heavily focused on practical applications, students who want to sharpen their written and verbal communication skills should take supplemental classes. Also, it helps to take a few extra classes in business and economics.

9. Strategic Communications

Strategic communication principles can help students learn how to communicate effectively with individuals, potential clients and the public. They may learn how to do this through verbal and electronic communication channels, such as social media.

How a Strategic Communications Degree Helps

Stockbrokers have a competitive field to work in, and communication is a key to good leadership skills. They must know how to strategically communicate with potential clients and current clients to maintain them. Being able to communicate effectively with all types of stakeholders is important for boosting everything from client engagement to public confidence. Also, it is essential to be able to utilize social media, email, video meetings and other forms of communication today.

Types of Classes in Strategic Communications Degree Programs

There are a wide variety of electives that students can take. While this degree program may not be as good of a fit as one of the top five options on the list, it is adequate for its versatility in other required skills. These are some examples of relevant classes that most bachelor’s degree programs include:

  • Intro to statistics
  • Microeconomic and macroeconomic principles
  • Writing and composition
  • Research and analytics
  • Ethics
  • Principles of strategic communications

If desired, students can work with academic advisors to choose the right supplementary classes for useful business, economics and finance skills.

10. Communications

Similar to strategic communications, students learn the same core principles of communication through many forms in this degree path. However, the emphasis is more on effective communication instead of on strategies of communications.

How a Communications Degree Helps

While this degree is helpful and can be utilized for communicating with clients and other stakeholders in the future, students may want to add some extra finance, business and economics courses if possible. Like strategic communications, this degree still makes the list because it equips students with the basic skills needed to start a career in broking.

Types of Classes in Communications Degree Programs

These are some of the required core courses in a communications degree program:

  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Communications theory
  • Civic and global learning
  • Human cultures

There are also a wide variety of electives that students can choose from for their elective requirements. Some of the options that may be useful for a future career as a stockbroker are technical writing, public relations and public speaking. These are useful for sharpening communication skills with stakeholders.

Time Required for a Degree

The good news is that most of the degrees listed on this guide are available as 100% online courses. Many schools also offer on-campus courses and programs for students who do not prefer a virtual learning environment. Some schools require students to complete internships at local businesses. For an undergraduate degree, the minimum requirement is 120 credit hours. Each class is usually three credit hours, and some classes are four credit hours. Half-time students take about six credit hours per term, and full-time students take 12 credit hours per term. As a full-time student, it typically takes almost four years to finish a degree program without any transfer credits or CLEP credits.

Choosing the Right Degree Path

Anyone with any type of bachelor’s degree may be able to find a job at the entry level that leads to becoming a stockbroker. However, those who are already in a program that is not on this list can take extra classes online to supplement economics, accounting, finance or business deficiencies. There are some free classes on these subjects from open-source programs, and there are plenty of tuition-based classes as well. Students who are planning to enroll in a degree program and are looking to choose the right path to become a stockbroker can benefit the most from one of the top five recommendations on this list. Additionally, pursuing a master’s in business administration is a good choice for those who want to eventually move into senior or leadership roles.