As an aspiring financial analyst, the most common educational pursuit would be to complete a master's degree in finance. Such a program will directly prepare students for a career working with investments, stocks and varied markets. Students gain the advanced training required by many employers and will be qualified for the CPA exam. Admission to these programs is often highly competitive.
A bachelor's degree, previous finance education, and professional experience is required for entry in this program. A thesis is sometimes expected of students. A voluntary certification is available.
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Master's Degree in Finance
Master's degree programs in finance provide training in quantitative analysis, computational methods and economic theory; they also focus heavily on business and mathematics. Corporate finance, risk management and the banking industry from a national and international perspective may also be a focus. Since many programs seek applicants with prior study in a relevant field, a background in economics, statistics or accounting may be desired before being admitted. Further, programs require prior coursework in advanced mathematics, including calculus. In some cases, prior professional experience in the business world is desired. Completion of a thesis during the program may be expected alongside core classes. Common courses include:
- Financial theory
- Financial investments
- Financial accounting
- Corporate finance
- Financial modeling
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported roughly 268,360 employed financial analysts in 2015 (www.bls.gov). These jobs are primarily clustered in New York City and similar financial centers. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for financial analysts was expected to grow 12%. According to the BLS, financial analysts earned a mean annual wage of $95,320 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Certification is not universally required for financial analysts. However, electing to pursue certification may increase salary and advancement opportunities. Among the most common certifications is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, offered through the CFA Institute. Education beyond the master's degree level is not required of financial analysts.
A master's program in finance is highly competitive and prepares students for training in investments, stocks, and varied markets. Upon graduation students can seek voluntary certification.