Careers in Finance

We give you an in-depth look at several types of finance jobs in multiple industries. Whether you're looking for an entry-level or management finance career, this guide gives you all the information you'll need to move you forward on your career path.

Finance Jobs Overview

The finance industry spans a wide variety of careers, including those related to individual investors, corporations, banking and stocks. If you're interested in careers in finance but aren't sure about the particulars of the available jobs, you're in luck! Below, you'll find jobs outlined based on broad categorizations that will help you decide which career is best for you.

Education Requirements for Finance Jobs

While you can enter the career field of finance without a formal business education, you will likely have much better prospects with at least an undergraduate degree in business, finance, economics, or related degree area, as many finance career paths are lucrative and highly competitive.

Finance degrees are available at every level, and those who wish to advance in their careers and their financial know-how may want to consider further education in the form of a master's degree, such as a Master's in Finance (MSF) or Master of Business Administration (MBA), or certification, becoming a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).

Skills Acquired by Finance Majors

Finance is quite a broad field, so the skills you might learn in a program will depend on the degree, the school and any concentrations you choose. However, there are some skills that are common to most programs.

  • Analytical skills. Students are taught how to take in data, interpret it and rearrange it to forecast trends, spot problems and help clients quickly visualize it. Programs will incorporate a range of courses in statistics, advanced math and analytics.
  • Problem-solving skills. Programs in finance aim to help students use creativity and outside-the-box thinking to solve complex problems. Professors might look at real-world examples, throw in a number of variables and ask students to figure out how to manage resources, make profits or evaluate potential opportunities.
  • Communication. You might think crunching numbers all day would require few communication skills. In fact, programs in finance emphasize communication because professionals in the field need to be able to express complex ideas in simple terms.
  • Software skills. Finance professionals use a wide range of data visualization and analytical software to manipulate numbers so programs in this field typically include classes on Excel and other relevant apps.

Salary and Job Outlook for Finance Careers

Professionals in the financial sector are often well-compensated but salaries can vary widely by career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2018 that the median annual salary for all business and financial occupations was $68,350.

Job growth -- the number of new jobs a career field is expected to add -- can be quite different from career to career. The broad field of business and financial occupations is projected to add 591,800 new jobs between 2018 and 2028, which represents a job growth of 7%. This is higher than the average for all occupations, which is currently 5%.

In the table below are some popular job titles, their corresponding duties and their median salaries and job growth data.

Job Title Degree Job duties Salary Job Growth
Financial Analysts Bachelor's degree in accounting, statistics, economics, finance Direct a business's financial decisions and investments $85,660 6%
Logisticians Bachelor's degree in supply chain management Do supply chain management for companies $74,600 5%
Financial Examiners Bachelor's degree; coursework in accounting, business, economics, finance Watch companies, transactions and economies to ensure compliance $80,180 7%
Personal Financial Advisors Bachelor's or master's in accounting, law, economics, finance Manage investments, savings and finances for families and individuals $88,890 7%
Loan Officers Bachelor's in a business-related field, on-the-job training Assess risk for loans and approve them for companies and individuals $63,040 8%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Types of Careers in Finance

Corporate Finance Jobs

Corporate finance, as you may have guessed, involves work with corporations to handle financial affairs. Most positions within corporate finance requires at least a bachelor's degree, and master's degrees or MBAs are often preferred. Corporate finance careers have a high earning potential, and many corporations provide significant benefits to their employees. Some careers you might consider in corporate finance include:

Banking and Finance Jobs

The banking sector offers many interesting career positions, and several careers in banking and finance are experiencing job growth. Because you would be working with money and other people's finances, you should have a strong aptitude for math and likely need good interpersonal skills as well. You may want to consider jobs like:

Investment Careers

If you're interested in money management but want a customer-focused career dedicated to growing assets, you should strongly consider a career in investment. Investment career positions are involved with the management of assets for individual and corporate clients and make suggestions as to ways these individuals and corporations can maximize their gains and avoid costly financial errors. Careers in finance and investment include:

Entry-Level Finance Jobs

If you're just starting your career in finance, you will likely begin with one of several entry-level finance positions . These careers require little, if any, previous work experience and will include some level of professional learning and job training. While a degree is not necessarily a pre-requisite for these jobs, most employers prefer candidates with some college education,, such as an associate or bachelor's degree. The following careers are well-suited for those at the outset of their professional practice in finance:

Highest-Paying Finance Jobs

Many careers within the field of finance are lucrative, with salaries well above the median for U.S. wage earners in the United States. However, if you only want to pursue careers that are considered the cream of the crop you may want to consider the following:

Other high-paying finance careers to consider are typically at the management level, which may necessitate more education, such as an MBA.

Master's in Finance Jobs

A master's degree or MBA in finance opens the door to new job opportunities or career advancement within a finance profession. Oftentimes, professionals who obtain a master's degree move into management roles. If you're looking for jobs with a master's in finance , you may want to consider:

Internships

Internships are a fantastic way to gain real-world experience and prepare yourself for working in the field. Many degrees in finance either require or offer relevant internships; some of these are paid, most are not. If you're on-campus, your school will typically have opportunities nearby. If you're online, you may have to travel, though some online schools can help you arrange for an internship in your area.

Some of the most popular and best internships in finance are:

  • AT&T Financial and Leadership Development Program
  • Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
  • Credit Suisse
  • Lazard
  • J.P. Morgan's Investment Bank

Finance Career Path

As you begin considering a finance degree and looking at schools with finance programs, you should strongly consider the career you're most interested in, as you may want to tailor your studies to the career paths you want to pursue. The field of finance contains many institutions and career trajectories, so you might first decide what industry you want to work in and then look at specific roles within those industries. Some popular industry choices include banking, insurance, and corporate finance, and the career choices available within these industries vary.

If you have no education or industry experience, it is still possible to obtain an entry level job in finance and work your way up. However, you'll likely have a higher chance at obtaining employment with an associate degree, or, even better, a bachelor's degree in finance. With more experience, you may choose to obtain a finance certification or graduate-level degree in order to increase your salary or take advantage of career advancement opportunities. Finance professionals with more experience and education can move into more complex finance roles or become managers who oversee operations and employees in entry-level positions.

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