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Is a Master's Degree in Finance Worth It?

Jun 25, 2018

When deciding if a master's in finance is worth it, you should not only have to look at the earning potential afforded by holding such a degree, but also how it can impact your career overall. In this article we will explore these topics and highlight the degree requirements.

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In determining if it is worth it to pursue a master's in finance, you not only have to explore your overall earning potential, but also how it could better assist you in creating a wider range of choices for employment. Below you will find information about program requirements as well as a list of typical jobs associated with such a degree and their salary.

Degree Program Information

Typically an individual who is looking to complete their master's in finance will be required to take around thirty-two credits over a two-year period, though some programs can be completed more quickly. These programs include classes in topics like financial accounting, econometrics, corporate finance and leadership. In addition, those who wish to obtain such degrees need to have a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field as well as a GPA of around 3.0. As far as cost goes, individuals can pay as little as $5,000 in tuition and fees to as much as $66,600, depending on which college they select.

Master's Degree in Finance: Salary/Jobs

Gaining a master's in finance allows job seekers to gain a wide breadth of skills that will enable them to work in numerous areas related to their field of study. Those who get a master's gain a deeper understanding of both economic and financial business practices and learn about economics on a national and international level as well as a local level. Furthermore, they learn about different investments including commodities and stocks and bonds. Though not every career detailed requires a master's degree, holding one will qualify employees for promotions at a faster rate and in turn allow them to earn more money over a shorter period of time. To help give you a better idea of what to expect, check out the table below that lists not only the median salary of finance-related careers, but also the potential earnings of those in the highest pay bracket.

Job Title Median Salary Salary for Top 10% of Employees(2017)* Job Growth(2016-2026)* Entry-level Education Requirements
Budget Analyst $75,240 $113,740 7% Bachelor's
Financial Manager $125,080 $208,000 or greater 19% Master's preferred
Securities, Commodities and Financial Service Sales Agents $63,780 $208,000 or greater 6% Bachelor's
Compensation and Benefits Manager $119,120 $202,590 5% Bachelor's
Chief Financial Officer $164,840** $340,000** 8% Master's

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

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Master's Degree in Finance Careers

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help provide analysis during the budgeting process through looking at their organization's prior performance and fund allocations and adjusting them to improve future budget efficiency. They create data-sets that allow them to accurately project the outcome of current spending allocations in order to make quick adjustments and present these same findings to company management. Having a master's better prepares them for understanding each facet of a business and gives them the deep knowledge of finance that is required for such a job, putting them in great position for pay raises and a potential salary of over $113,740, according to the BLS.

Financial Manager

Financial managers create and monitor departmental budgets and make financial forecasts to present to company executives. They constantly follow the company's budget to ensure it is in line with spending limits and work with managers within other departments to gain a good understanding of how and why money is being spent in the way it is. Individuals within this position must have a degree in finance and have good leadership skills. Employers seeking job candidates for this position often prefer those who hold a master's degree.

Securities, Commodities and Financial Service Sales Agents

Individuals within this job typically spend their day introducing prospective clients to numerous investment opportunities. They not only tailor financial plans based on their client's own economic history, but also keep accurate records of all financial transactions and make their clients aware of them. They determine their client's needs and use that information to buy and sell stocks in accordance with a pre-made financial plan. Those with a master's will have a good understanding of all financial markets and how various events within a given economy directly affect investment interest to better serve their clients during crisis. This knowledge has the potential to increase their clientele and, in effect, also increase their overall earnings.

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers work directly with management within a given organization to determine the best and most cost-effective plans for employees' benefits and salaries. In addition, they make decisions about wage rates as well as ensure that any and all benefit plans comply with both state and federal regulations. Having taken courses in business economics and planning, and financial law, those with a master's will have the skills necessary to help employers make legally sound decisions about their finances. According to the BLS, the highest earners within this field make more than $202,590 a year.

Chief Financial Officer

Chief financial officers are charged with overseeing all financial aspects of a business and providing leadership and guidance to ensure that all finance and accounting departments run efficiently and abide by state and federal laws. In most cases, CFO's manage every transaction that takes place within the company and create databases that allow them to keep accurate records of every type of monetary exchange. In order to become a CFO a person needs to have deep knowledge of all financial aspects as well as a good understanding of tax laws, making a master's in finance ideal for such a position.

Securing a master's in finance allows individuals to gain the traits and the skills necessary to widen their potential career choices. It gives them a greater understanding of all areas of both finance and economics and typically makes them better qualified candidates for related careers and higher earning potentials.

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