Disclaimer: I live in Canada, therefore a lot of this information will be Canadian specific. Also, every province differs in educational and licensing requirements. I’m going to just focus on Alberta, the province I’m from.

I have a buddy who is in a dead end job. He works hard, yet he continually gets passed over for promotions and raises. For whatever reason, he just can’t seem to get ahead.

He’s got two options: He can either quit and do something else, either in the same industry or a new one. Or he can stick it out until they have no choice to promote him. Obviously, I’m more of a fan of option #1, but I’m kind of a vigorous young go-getter like that.

So we got talking at dinner the other night. What should he do with his life? He’s interested in business; we’ve spent hours talking about it. He’s a smart guy, capable of getting into a career that has some real prestige to it. And one thing he didn’t realize is how easy many financial careers are to get into. In fact, most people don’t realize just how little specific education many financial careers take.

Each of the financial careers I’m going to mention are legitimate jobs that any person could make a good living at. Most of them are straight commission jobs, which usually means 1-2 lean years at the beginning. If you’re tight for money now, or you’re not very good at budgeting, then I’d recommend looking into something a little more, shall we say, stable.

But for my buddy? His wife works for the government. Her job is secure and her income is enough to support the two of them. He’s not making gobs of money now, meaning the income bar isn’t very high. I told him he’s in the perfect situation to try one of the following financial careers:

1. Mortgage Broker– Becoming a mortgage broker borders on ridiculously easy. You register for the course through the Alberta Mortgage Broker’s Association (AMBA), pay approximately $2,500 for your course, get 70% on the test, and you’re in business. Mortgage brokerages will hire practically anyone with a pulse and the diploma from the course. [Course info]

Earning Potential- Each deal pays anywhere from $1000 to $4000, depending on the value of the house. Top agents will do 100-200 deals a year. Six figures is easily possible if you’re good at it.

2. Insurance Agent In Alberta, a student must take the Personal Lines 1 course, offered through the Insurance Broker’s Association of Alberta. This costs just a hair under $1000 for members of the association. Within 36 months of taking Personal Lines 1, you have to take Personal Lines 2. It costs just $460 for members. [Course info]

Earning Potential– Depends on a bunch of things, of course, including the company you work for. It’s a lot easier to join an existing firm as a sales person than it is to strike out on your own. Different types of insurance pay different commission structures as well. A good agent can make a six figure salary, but that’s probably a high estimate.

3. Primerica/World Financial Group- I’m on the fence on whether these companies are legitimate business opportunities or outright scams. The advantage to these companies is that an agent can offer their clients both mutual funds and insurance, giving them more opportunities to sell products. On the other hand, their pyramid structure and lust to recruit new members gives me pause. I think if someone joined and just wanted to sell funds/insurance, rather than trying to recruit, their life would probably be miserable. Oh, and neither company offers any sort of information on the costs of getting licensed on their website.

I wrote more about working for World Financial Group here. 

Earning Potential – Anywhere from making just beer money to doing ridiculously well. But probably closer to beer money.

4. Mutual Fund Salesman- You’ve seen them at every bank, the “wealth management” person. In reality, a lot of times this person is just a mutual fund salesman with a fancy title. They push only bank approved funds, often with front end loads and generous trailer fees. One of the reasons I started this blog was to educate people about investing in such funds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t profit from people’s stupidity. To start, one only needs to take the Canadian Securities Course, checking in at around $1,200. [Course info]

Earning Potential – I don’t know for sure, but it looks like the salesperson collects the entire front end load as their fee. They also get 0.25-1.0% of the value of the investment as a trailer fee. 0.5% of 10,000,000 is 50k a year, before any front end loads.

5. Real Estate Agent– In Alberta, a couple of years ago it became pretty expensive to become a real estate agent, with the course going from under $1,000 to over $2,000. Considering the earning potential though, it’s still a good bargain to take the course. Like any commission sales job, expect 6 months to 2 years of pretty lean times. [Course Info]

Earning Potential– The average deal pays $3000-$5000, depending on the value of the house. Top agents will do 50-100 deals a year.

Tell everyone, yo!