The average starting salary of a finance major varies greatly depending on the specific position and employer. Learn more about the salary options for four entry-level positions a finance major might pursue - financial analyst, financial advisor, financial manager, and accountant.
Many schools offer standalone undergraduate finance programs, or offer finance as a concentration in another major. Master's degree in the field are also available. Many different industries employ finance graduates.
|Career||Financial Analyst||Financial Advisor||Financial Manager||Accountant|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12%||30% (for personal financial advisors)||7%||11% (for accountants and auditors)|
|Median Starting Salary (2016)**||$54,488||$48,181||$59,067||$45,254|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Starting Average Salaries of Finance Majors
Earnings in this field depend on the specific position acquired. Other variables are the graduate's education level, the graduate's specific concentration within the major, the industry in which the graduate works, and the region in which the job is located.
In 2014, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that the average starting salary for finance majors was $55,400 (www.naceweb.org). This was the third-highest starting salary among various types of business majors within that year.
Finance Major Overview
Finance is frequently a major within a university's school of business. Sometimes it is a stand-alone major; other times, finance is a concentration within a business administration or economics major. Occasionally, mathematics departments will have finance concentrations.
Students of finance at the undergraduate level can expect to primarily study business and accounting. Coursework typically includes:
- Cost accounting
- Financial markets and institutions
- Investment analysis
- Risk management
- International finance
- Business law
Finance MBA programs require a continuance of the studies in accounting, marketing, and business begun in bachelor's programs. Graduates of MBA programs may expect to obtain more prestigious and higher-paying positions than those who hold only undergraduate degrees.
Individuals knowledgeable in finance are needed in a variety of industries and settings, such as in private companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Graduates of finance degree programs often go on to become financial analysts, financial advisors, financial managers and accountants.
Financial analysts study financial trends to recommend investments to both businesses and individuals. They may focus specifically on what to buy or what to sell. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for these positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for financial analysts are expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024. This is due in part to the growing complexity of investment portfolios and regional knowledge.
Financial advisors meet with clients to discuss their financial goals and to help them achieve them. They recommend investment strategies, help plan for future expenses and monitor clients' investments for them. They may have direct control over buying and selling stocks and bonds for their clients. Financial advisors need a bachelor's degree, though it is beneficial to have a master's as well. The BLS predicts that positions for personal financial advisors are expected to increase by 30% between 2014 and 2024, due to the number of people nearing retirement.
Financial managers keep track of the finances of an organization. They look at spending and forecasts and make recommendations on financial decisions to upper management. They also supervise other financial employees. Financial managers may focus specifically on credit, risk or insurance. Typically, financial managers have a bachelor's degree and five years of experience in the financial field. The BLS predicts that, between 2014 and 2024, positions for financial managers will grow by 7%.
Accountants create financial records and work with accounting systems to organize and maintain a company's finances. They also suggest ways to improve efficiency in financial procedures, reduce costs and increase profits. Some types of accountants may benefit from certification. Accountants need at least a bachelor's degree. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS predicts that positions for accountants and auditors will increase by 11%.
Starting salaries vary by title. According to PayScale.com, most financial analysts with less than one year of experience earned between $40,838 and $71,602 as of January 2016. Most financial managers earned from $33,772 to $98,622 within their first year, while financial advisors typically earned from $29,582 to $76,966 within their first year. A majority of first-year accountants made between $33,584 and $60,176.
The four careers outlined here all have positive growth projections for the decade between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. In 2016, PayScale.com reported that average entry-level salaries for finance majors working in these careers ranged from $29,582 to $98,622.