Studying finance offers an exceptional degree choice that opens up challenging opportunities across a multitude of sectors. Careers in finance are often associated with substantial compensation, where for certain roles, bonuses and commissions can amount to a substantial sum, often reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, finance occupations typically involve a variety of tasks, providing dynamism in daily routines.
For students or recent graduates, possessing financial acumen can significantly aid in securing employment within these sectors. This article will introduce the potential employment opportunities attainable upon the completion of a finance degree.
Key Points to Note
● The finance sector comprises companies that cater to the financial service needs of individuals, corporations, and government entities.
● Most roles within the finance sector necessitate a bachelor’s degree or higher, specifically in fields such as business, mathematics, economics, or statistics.
● Some of the most lucrative roles within finance include investment banker, actuary, portfolio manager, quantitative analyst, and securities trader.
Types of Careers in Finance
The field of finance offers an extensive range of career opportunities. These include:
● Investment Banker
● Investment Manager
● Investor Relations Manager
● Venture Capitalist
● Bank Manager
● Budget Analyst
● Business Banker
● Chief Financial Officer
● Chief Investment Officer
● Insurance Agent
● Financial Analyst
● Financial Examiner
● Financial Planner
● Insurance Underwriter
● Hedge Fund Manager
● Loan Officer
● Real Estate Agent
● Tax Examiner
These roles predominantly fall into one of seven broad sectors: Asset Management, Commercial Banking, Corporate Finance, Insurance, Investment Banking, Personal Financial Planning, and Real Estate.
Typically, the gateway to a career in finance is a bachelor’s degree in the field. For further advancement within the industry, a master’s degree in finance or an MBA may often be a requisite.
Other entry-level finance jobs include:
● Budget Analyst
● Bank Teller
● Payroll Clerk
● Credit Analyst
● Financial Analyst
● Insurance Underwriter
● Insurance Claims Adjuster
● Compensation and Benefits Specialist
● Personal Financial Advisor
● Personal Banker
● Tax Associate
Even for beginners, finance sector roles typically offer compensation that exceeds the median salary. It’s worth noting that while a prestigious Ivy League education is not a prerequisite to enter the finance industry, having an undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement. Candidates with majors in economics or mathematics are often highly sought after.
Jobs You Can Get with a Finance Degree
The finance sector offers an extensive array of career prospects that encompass more than just money management. Here are some possibilities to explore as you delve into potential career paths within the realm of finance.
1. Financial Analyst
Working as a financial analyst carries a sense of prestige and significance. Analysts stationed at financial institutions typically shoulder the responsibility of investigating potential investments, subsequently offering insights and recommendations to traders and portfolio managers. Their scope of work also extends to non-banking corporations, where they assess the firm’s financial standing and contribute to the formulation of budgetary strategies.
Becoming a financial analyst demands robust analytical, mathematical, and communication abilities, coupled with a capacity to thrive under pressure. The prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related discipline, certification from the CFA Institute or another FINRA license, and, in most cases, an MBA.
● Financial analyst average salary: $72,303
2. Financial Planner
Students specializing in finance gain knowledge about an array of investment instruments, equipping them with the skills needed to guide clients in managing their financial resources. Such students can discern market trends and leverage this insight during planning consultations.
In crafting strategies tailored to individual investors, financial planners must harness numerical data and apply accounting principles. Equally important is their ability to foster trust and advocate their services, making strong interpersonal capabilities and persuasive skills invaluable. Consequently, finance students endowed with these traits are likely to thrive in this domain.
● Financial planner average salary: $87,850
3. Financial Managers
Financial managers bear the principal responsibility for devising cash management strategies and steering the direction of corporate investments, with an aim to realize the organization’s strategic and economic objectives. In this role, you would routinely oversee the generation of financial reports, ensuring they conform to company and industry standards. Leveraging your research and analytical skills, you would pinpoint future opportunities for growth. Your efforts should culminate in the optimal utilization of company resources and robust financial performance.
Financial managers are expected to be conversant with financial statements, prepare budgets, and scrutinize budget deviations. As they are frequently called upon to justify capital investment proposals to board members, executives, and colleagues, robust written and oral communication skills are essential. The need for financial managers is ubiquitous across all sectors.
● Financial manager average salary: $127,990
4. Budget Analyst
The primary role of a budget analyst is to scrutinize budgets and evaluate the financial viability of current and proposed investments. Armed with their financial training, budget analysts scrutinize a range of projects from a fiscal perspective across various sectors, including business, government, education, and non-profit organizations. They also leverage their expertise to educate personnel with the aim of keeping diverse projects within their budget constraints. A bachelor’s degree qualifies you for this role.
As a budget analyst, you have the flexibility to operate in multiple sectors, such as information technology, engineering services, defense, and education. In the private sector, your role would involve aiding businesses in cost reduction and profit amplification through data analysis initiatives. In a public sector role as a budget analyst, your efforts would be geared towards optimizing budgets to enhance program efficacy. The responsibilities of a budget analyst usually scale with experience. Veteran budget analysts in corporations furnish reports for top-level executives, while their government counterparts regularly present fiscal information to lawmakers.
● Budget analyst average salary: $80,789
5. Commercial Banker
The commercial banking sector has undergone considerable transformations in recent years, embracing digital technologies to enhance service delivery while evolving to accommodate the burgeoning fintech players. Nonetheless, commercial bankers retain their pivotal role in communities. As custodians of financial products like business loans and mortgages, they are instrumental in shaping the economic well-being of their communities.
In roles such as a banking relationship manager, loan officer, or development officer, you would engage directly with customers to appraise their financial circumstances and suggest suitable financial products. If you’re intrigued by the impact of finance on individuals’ lives, commercial banking continues to hold significant relevance within the finance landscape.
● Commercial banker average salary: $63,996
Actuaries leverage mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to calculate the fiscal implications of uncertainty. These professionals gather, organize, and analyze data to determine the probability and projected costs of events such as accidents, illness, disability, death, and property damage. As stated by the Society of Actuaries, “Actuaries are experts in assessing the probability of future events—using numbers, not crystal balls.”
Actuaries are employed by risk-management entities such as insurance companies (which are the most common employers), pension plans, banks, investment firms, accounting firms, consulting firms, governments, and hospitals. Their counsel and expertise play a vital role in guiding these organizations to manage their assets effectively in a bid to mitigate risk and maximize returns.
● Actuary’s average salary: $108,350
7. Chief Financial Officer
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is tasked with monitoring a company’s profits and losses, subsequently formulating strategies to ensure the company’s sustained financial success. The managerial acumen of a CFO is vital, given their typical role in supervising a team of employees.
CFOs scrutinize a company’s financial transactions and provide guidance when novel decisions are on the table. It’s imperative that these professionals are adept at understanding local financial regulations, as they are responsible for ensuring that the organization adheres to IRS guidelines.
● Chief financial officer average salary: $128,468
8. Accountants and Auditors
Accountants and auditors are responsible for ensuring an organization’s finances are accurate and comply with relevant laws and regulations. An accountant might also prepare financial statements or handle tax returns. These professionals can either work internally for a company or be part of an accounting firm that provides services to clients on a contractual basis.
Accounting professionals are required across a broad spectrum of industries, including healthcare, government, and entertainment. Despite the potential disruption brought about by economic shifts or technological evolution in certain sectors, accounting remains a stable career choice.
Auditors hold a crucial role in the finance industry as they verify the accuracy of data documented in records. They may be employed by corporations, governments, or work as independent contractors. Given that auditors often serve as the final reviewer of financial information, the role carries significant responsibilities. A bachelor’s degree in finance can pave the way for a career as an auditor.
● Accountant’s average salary: $71,550
● Auditor’s average salary: $68,724
9. Securities Trader
Securities traders operate in diverse environments, such as commercial banks, investment banks, asset management companies, hedge funds, and more. Regardless of their work setting, traders buy and sell securities using the firm’s assets. They operate across various markets—like stocks, commodities, or cryptocurrency—and may focus on a particular asset class or type of investment.
In the past, it was feasible for traders to advance their careers without a college degree. While the career trajectory remains less structured than certain professions like investment banking, most traders now possess a solid university education in a finance-related discipline, with many holding advanced degrees in statistics, mathematics, or similar fields.
Traders who demonstrate exceptional performance are usually entrusted with larger capital. It is not rare for top-performing traders to establish their own hedge funds.
● Securities trader average salary: $72,612
10. Portfolio Manager
A portfolio manager is a professional in financial management who oversees investment portfolios on behalf of clients. They engage in conversations with clients about diverse strategies and the overarching performance, and they work in concert with a team of financial analysts to define the approach for each client’s unique portfolio.
Often, portfolio managers kickstart their careers as financial analysts, and many hold a master’s degree in business administration or finance, although this is not a prerequisite for the role. In essence, their work involves significant interaction with exchange-traded, mutual, or closed-end funds.
● Portfolio manager average salary: $88,035
Why Get a Finance Degree?
A degree in finance equips you with a deep understanding of accounting, statistics, and economics, thus preparing you for a vocation in the realm of financial management. Finance is an indispensable aspect of virtually all organizations, whether public or private, rendering this field versatile and consistently sought after across an extensive range of industries.
While it is true that studying finance can pave the way to rewarding financial careers, the allure does not stop there. Banks can extend crucial loans to budding businesses, financial planners can assist young families in setting aside funds for higher education, and intelligent investing can facilitate worry-free retirement. In the right hands, finance can serve as a powerful instrument for innovation, wealth, and societal benefit.
All these roles typically require a degree in finance, typically a bachelor’s degree in fields such as finance, accounting, economics, business, or a related discipline. In addition to relevant work experience, short courses might be necessary to enhance your prospects of employment. Furthermore, take the time to refine your professional resume and cover letter for finance positions that pique your interest. Be sure to highlight the unique skills and experiences that set you apart as a candidate.