Looking for a good job? The folks at CareerCast.com have a "Jobs Rated 2013" list you can peruse. CNNMoney.com has a list, too, of the 100 "Best Jobs in America," featuring "big growth, great pay, and satisfying work." Salary.com has its own list of the "50 Best Jobs in America." You might notice some careers that offer solid compensation popping up on all the lists -- for example, the average financial planner salary puts the profession in the upper rankings.
Financial planners review their clients' finances and draft plans to help them reach their financial goals, such as having enough to retire on and/or putting some kids through college. This may include securing certain insurance, rejiggering investments, and creating and adding to retirement accounts.
It's easy for just about anyone to call themselves financial planners, but to inspire the most confidence in your clients and up your salary, too, you might want to become a certified financial planner, which entails passing a series of exams and keeping up with developments via continuing education. CFPs must also adhere to a set of standards, and they have a fiduciary duty to their clients: to put their interests first. (There may still be conflicts of interest, especially if they earn commissions by selling certain products to clients, so we at The Motley Fool have long recommended fee-only planners.)
If you go down this road, you might start out working for a large financial-services company and then later go into business for yourself, perhaps specializing in retirement planning or issues related to same-sex couples.
The financial planner salary
The financial planner salary will vary to some degree, of course, and different sources present different averages. But it's still well above the median per-capita income in America, which was recently below $30,000. Being a financial planner also offers nonfinancial rewards, such as knowing that you're helping your clients improve their financial standing and build stronger futures.
U.S. News & World Report lists the median salary for financial advisors at $67,250 but also notes that there might be substantial bonuses on top of that. At Glassdoor.com, the median financial planner salary is $54,350, but the range goes up to $91.000. The CNNMoney survey's financial planner salary is for CFPs, who have a median income of $92,800 and a top pay of $190,000. The folks at Salary.com peg the top financial planner salary closer to $200,000 if the advisor is managing clients' portfolios.
If you're not likely to become one yourself, you might still want to tap the services of a financial planner -- it might improve your financial situation over the long run. Alternatively, you might just be your own financial planner.