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How to Be a Professional Wall Street Broker

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Based on Hollywood portrayals, working on Wall Street may appear to be a glamorous job, but getting there requires years of work and passing a difficult examination. Working on the New York Stock Exchange is a fast-paced career that requires someone who's good with numbers, quick on one's feet and has a healthy sense of competition.

Get a college degree. Although not required, obtaining a bachelor's degree in a field such as accounting or financing will improve your chances of finding a good job.

Submit applications and resumes to brokerage firms for volunteer opportunities or summer internships while you're in college. If you can get an internship, this will help you gain experience and get a better entry-level job.

Update your resume and put together a list of references. Cite your grades, work experience or any other skills that show you're hardworking. Many brokerage firms prefer candidates who show they're ambitious.

Apply and get a job at a brokerage firm that's a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Because firms on Wall Street are tough to get into, you may need to work at a satellite firm first.

Apply to take the Series 7 exam, also called the general securities registered representative examination, after four months on the job. Any stockbroker who offers a full line of securities must pass this exam. Some companies will handle the application for you, so check with your employer first.

Download a Series 7 exam outline from the FINRA website and familiarize yourself with the test. The exam has 250 multiple choice questions, is six hours long and tests knowledge of job functions and regulations for stockbrokers.

Take a Series 7 study course. Because the exam is so intensive, you want to give yourself several months to study. A preparation course will cover everything you need to know for the exam.

Take and pass the Series 7 exam.

Work full-time as a trainee with a brokerage firm for two years. You'll work and take training courses. This is usually with the firm you worked for before taking the Series 7 exam. The firm will set up the program.

Work for several years as a broker at a satellite firm if you can't get a job on Wall Street right away. Competition for Wall Street jobs is fierce.

Keep a clean record that's free of compliance or regulatory issues. Wall Street brokerage firms are cautious about people with dings in their history.

Achieve high commissions at your satellite firm. An impressive track record will better your chances for working on Wall Street.

Get hired with a Wall Street brokerage firm after you've worked for several years as a successful broker off Wall Street. Your best chance might involve working with a Wall Street employment recruiter. You can find recruiters online.

Items you will need
  • Resume
  • References
  • Series 7 exam preparation course

Tip

  • Consider working independently. Wall Street recruiters look not only at brokers who have experience working for satellite firms, but also consider brokers who have been successful running their own businesses.

Warning

  • Some brokerage firms may require that you also pass the uniform securities agents state law examination.

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