17 FINRA License Certifications To Earn as a Finance Professional

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 3, 2022

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Whether you're a novice practitioner or an expert finance professional, earning a FINRA license is a viable option to help you enter the securities industry. From securities traders to research analysts, there are many specialized qualifications for you to consider. Learning about the various credentials can help you make a more informed decision about choosing the one that most closely aligns with your expertise and career goals. In this article, we review what a FINRA license is, explore a list of 17 licenses to and offer tips to help you prepare for the certification exams.

Related: 10 Jobs in Financial Securities (With Salaries and Duties)

What is a FINRA license?

A FINRA license is a qualification you can earn from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to become a broker, investment representative, securities sales agent or other securities-focused financial professional. This organization oversees the requirements and distribution of all securities licensing credentials, including the administering of exams. There are many types of FINRA licenses for both representative and supervisor levels, allowing professionals to choose the license that aligns with their experience and specialized area of investment or business.

Related: What Is a Financial Securities License? (With Types and Tips)

17 FINRA licenses you can earn

Here are 17 FINRA series licenses you can earn after completing the corresponding exam:

1. Series 6 - Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative

The Series 6 certification prepares entry-level finance professionals with the knowledge to sell variable annuities and mutual funds. A representative with this license can solicit, purchase and sell securities, such as:

  • Variable life insurance

  • Municipal fund securities

  • Local government investment pools

  • 529 savings plans

  • Unit investment trusts

The exam for earning this qualification is one hour and 30 minutes long, has 50 questions and costs $75.

2. Series 7 - General Securities Representative

The Series 7 certification helps registered entry-level finance professionals develop the skills to sell company securities and options. Licensed representatives can solicit, purchase and sell a variety of securities, such as:

  • Public offerings and private placements of corporate securities

  • Warrants

  • Money market funds

  • Rights

  • Mutual funds

  • Hedge funds

The exam for a Series 7 license is three hours and 45 minutes long, has 125 questions and costs $300.

3. Series 22 - Direct Participation Programs Limited Representative

The Series 22 certification prepares entry-level finance practitioners to sell limited partnerships. A candidate who achieves this accreditation can manage operations in various areas, such as:

  • S corporations

  • Limited liability companies

  • Real estate leases

  • Oil and gas leases

  • Equipment leases

  • Direct participation programs

The exam for earning this license is one hour and 30 minutes long, has 50 questions and costs $60.

4. Series 57 - Securities Trader Representative

The Series 57 license is for entry-level security traders who want to learn to execute equity, convertible or preferred debt securities. A candidate with this certification can perform a variety of trader-related activities, such as:

  • NASDAQ equity trading

  • Proprietary trading

  • OTC equity trading

The Series 57 exam is one hour and 45 minutes long, has 50 questions and costs $80.

Related: How To Become a Stock Trader: A Step-By-Step Career Guide

5. Series 79 - Investment Banking Representative

The Series 79 certification prepares entry-level finance representatives to perform duties like advising clients about debt and equity security offerings through public offerings, acquisitions, private placements and mergers. A candidate who earns this certification can advise and facilitate clients about many topics, such as:

  • Business combination transactions

  • Asset sales

  • Tender offers

  • Financial restructurings

The licensing exam is two hours and 30 minutes long, has 75 questions and costs $300.

Related: How To Become an Investment Banker

6. Series 82 - Private Securities Offerings Representative

The Series 82 credential prepares finance specialists to solicit and sell private placement securities as part of a complete and primary stock offering. The exam for earning this qualification is one hour and 30 minutes long, has 50 questions and costs $60. Passing the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam is also necessary before a professional can earn this license.

7. Series 86/87 - Research Analyst

A Series 86/87 license provides candidates with the knowledge to produce electronic and written reports that assess companies, equity securities and various industry sectors. Primary functions for someone who earns this credential may include:

  • Data analysis

  • Valuation

  • Modeling

  • Data and information collection

  • Research reporting

  • Information dissemination

There are two parts to the licensing exam. The Series 86 exam is four hours and 30 minutes, has 100 questions and costs $225. The Series 87 exam is one hour and 45 minutes, has 50 questions and costs $150.

Related: 5 Steps for Becoming a Research Analyst

8. Series 99 - Operations Professional

The Series 99 license allows finance professionals to perform tasks like customer onboarding, funds disbursements and account transfers. The primary topics for this exam include professionalism, ethics and knowledge of the securities industry and broker-dealer operations. Licensed operations professionals can perform many activities, such as:

  • Trade confirmation

  • Margin

  • Securities delivery and receipt

  • Approval of information entitlement policies

  • Approval of pricing models for valuations

  • Financial control

The exam for this license is one hour and 30 minutes, has 50 questions and costs $60.

9. Series 4 - Registered Options Principal

The Series 4 certification gives high-level finance practitioners the knowledge to perform various tasks related to regulatory compliance over trading, underwriting and market-making. A candidate with this license can also advertise and handle products like:

  • Index options

  • Equity options

  • Foreign currency options

  • Options on government

  • Mortgage-backed securities

  • Interest rate options

The Series 4 exam is three hours and 25 minutes, has 125 questions and costs $105 dollars.

Related: How To Become an Options Trader in 4 Steps

10. Series 9/10 - General Securities Sales Supervisor

The Series 9/10 license allows high-level finance professionals to approve customer accounts and train sales supervisory personnel. A professional with this license can also perform activities related to topics such as:

  • Corporate securities sales

  • Mutual funds

  • Certificates and repos of accrual on government securities

  • Asset-backed securities

  • Closed-end funds

The Series 9/10 exam for earning this qualification has two parts. The Series 9 exam is one hour and 30 minutes long, has 55 questions and costs $130. The Series 10 exam is four hours long, has 145 questions and costs $175.

11. Series 14 - Compliance Officer

The Series 14 accreditation is for finance professionals and prepares them with the skills to perform as compliance officers. A candidate who earns this certification can expect to become more knowledgeable on a diverse range of topics, such as:

  • Solicitations

  • Regulatory agencies

  • Customer and employee accounts

  • Markets and operations

  • Registration

  • Broker-dealer operations

  • Credit regulation and capital requirements

  • Investment banking

The exam for earning this qualification is 3 hours long, has 110 questions and costs $350.

Related: How To Become a Compliance Officer (With Steps)

12. Series 16 - Supervisory Analysts

The Series 16 credential gives finance practitioners the competencies to work as supervisory analysts. Licensed analysts can examine and manage many items, such as:

  • Ratings notices

  • Price target changes

  • Research reports on equity securities and debts

  • Indices discussions

  • Commentaries about market, political and economic conditions

  • Statistical summaries on the financial data of multiple companies

The exam for earning this qualification has two parts. Part one is one hour and 30 minutes long, has 50 questions and costs $240. Part two is two hours long, has 50 questions and costs $245.

13. Series 23 - General Securities Principal - Sales Supervisor

The Series 23 license prepares finance specialists to work as a sales supervisor and management broker-dealer based on general securities. A professional with this certification can perform various activities, such as:

  • Underwriting

  • Market making

  • Advertising

  • Trading

  • Retail and institutional customer supervising

  • Investment researching and bank supervising

The exam for a Series 23 license is two hours and 30 minutes long, has 100 questions and costs $105.

14. Series 24 - General Securities Principal

The Series 24 accreditation is for finance professionals who want to supervise and manage broker-dealer general securities. A general securities principal can supervise a variety of activities, such as:

  • Market making and trading activities

  • Investment research and banking

  • Institutional and retail customer-focused activities

  • General broker-dealer activities

  • Broker-deal registration activities

  • Personnel management

  • Private securities offerings

  • Investment banking

  • Trading

The exam for earning this qualification is three hours and 45 minutes long, has 150 questions and costs $175.

Related: 12 High-Paying Jobs in Finance

15. Series 26 - Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Principal

The Series 26 credential provides finance practitioners with the competencies to supervise and manage organizations registered under the 1940 Investment Company Act. Licensed professionals can perform several functions, such as:

  • Broker-dealer registering

  • Managing personnel activities

  • Overseeing of sales practices

  • Supervising associated people

  • Managing compliance and broker-dealer business processing

  • Managing closed-end funds

  • Managing variable life insurance

  • Handling variable annuities

  • Overseeing mutual funds

Related: 11 of the Best Entry-Level Finance Jobs (With Salaries)

16. Series 27 - Financial and Operations Principal

The Series 27 certification is for finance specialists who want to fulfill the rules, responsibilities, recording and expectations of a broker-dealer. A candidate with this license can perform activities related to a variety of topics, such as:

  • Back office operations

  • Financial reports

  • Net capital

  • Customer protection

  • Cash and funding management

  • Books and records preservation

The Series 27 exam is three hours and 45 minutes long, has 145 questions and costs $175.

Related: 11 Careers in Corporate Finance

17. Series 28 - Introducing Broker/Dealer Financial and Operations Principal

The Series 28 license prepares financial professionals to perform the duties of a broker-dealer and record keeper. A candidate with this certification can fulfill tasks related to:

  • Maintenance and preparation of records and books

  • Back office operations

  • Financial responsibility and rules compliance

  • Financial reporting

  • Management of net capital

  • Cash management

  • Funding management

  • Customer protection management

The exam for earning this qualification is two hours long, has 95 questions and costs $150.

Related: 10 Popular Finance Jobs and Salaries

Tips for taking FINRA licensing exams

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a FINRA licensing exam:

  • Review the requirements and enrollment procedures for each exam you want to take to ensure you meet all the prerequisites.

  • Complete your exam within 120 from the day of enrollment.

  • Schedule your exam far enough in advance so you can give yourself at least 80 hours to study.

  • Determine the content you're least familiar with and focus on studying that material the most.

  • Develop a study plan.

  • Find online resources that can help you prepare.

  • Locate your testing center and review their regulations so you know what to expect on your examination day.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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