The minimum educational requirement for a financial analyst is a bachelor's degree in finance, business, or a related field. It is not uncommon for financial analysts to hold a master's degree, in addition to certifications and/or a specific licensure. Keep reading to learn about the preparation needed to become a financial analyst and to get an idea about employment outlook statistics.
Financial analysts gather and evaluate industry and economic fiscal data to predict investment performance. Their findings are used by businesses and individuals to make decisions about stocks, bonds and other financial stakes. They might work for financial institutions, corporations, insurance groups and securities companies.
A bachelor's degree in finance or another relevant field is the minimum qualification, but many financial analysts improve their employment prospects by earning master's degrees. Professional certification, which calls for a degree and passage of examinations, is another way to advance a career. Some positions, such as those that involve the sale of stocks and bonds, require licensing, which is acquired after employment.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in finance, business or related field; master's degree is common|
|Licensing||Required for some positions|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$80,310|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The minimum requirement for a career in financial analysis is a bachelor's degree. Some employers prefer to hire financial analysts with master's degrees. Additionally, employers typically prefer applicants with professional certification. Licensure might be required.
Bachelor of Science in Finance programs provide students with theoretical and analytic skills needed for careers in finance and business. Courses might include:
- Managerial finance
- Investment analysis
- Financial markets
- International business
- Business law and ethics
While an undergraduate degree is sufficient for many positions, some require that financial analysts hold graduate degrees. Master of Business Administration programs, for example, typically take two years to complete and provide advanced instruction in business theory and management. Students generally focus their studies on one specialty, such as finance, marketing or project management.
The CFA Institute offers a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation to qualified professionals. To enroll in the certification program, applicants must be CFA Institute members and have completed or be in the final year of a bachelor's degree program (www.cfainstitute.org). They then must pass three examinations, a process that can take 2-5 years to complete. Before being granted the CFA designation, financial analysts must have earned at least four years of professional investment experience.
Financial analysts involved in regulated services, such as legal advising or selling stocks, bonds or insurance, might be required to obtain licensure. They usually pursue securities licensure through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, though different licenses might be required to perform other services. Rather than being a prerequisite, licensure is typically acquired during employment; financial analysts generally must be sponsored by their employers to become licensed.
Career and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates 12% job growth for financial analysts in the years 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov). Financial analysts earned $80,310 as a median annual wage in 2015, according to the BLS.
A financial analyst needs at least a bachelor's degree in finance or business, and many hold master's degrees. Most go on to obtain a securities license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Professional certification is also available by meeting experience requirements and passing an exam.