What are some of the possible career paths you can pursue with a degree in finance?
These experts discuss the vast array of job opportunities before you:
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Finance Expert | Member of Advisory Board, Wealthy Living Today
A Finance degree is an open door into a variety of professions. Some of them depend on you progressing to masters level, and specialty financial training in cases.
It’s what it says in the job title. You use your skills to gather and analyze financial data to help management make improved decisions. Entities that require this include investment funds, pension funds, non-profit organizations – and any number of other businesses.
You’ll recommend strategic and tactical routes based on identifying investment challenges. The minimum qualification is an undergraduate degree in finance & statistics or finance-focused subjects.
With an average salary close to $71,000, your responsibilities are likely to cover upholding the good financial standing of the business that employs you. The range of duties can extend from overseeing strategic analysis to collecting receivables and preparing accounts.
Standard functions include: managing budgets, developing & assessing financial reports, running the finance department (with all its employees), making economic predictions, and connecting to auditors and lawyers at pivotal times.
A strong financial degree or even a CPA qualification (for large companies) is a requirement for employment consideration in this role.
CPA Accountant or Auditor
With an average salary of around $84,000, the occupation is much more specific to CPA qualified candidates. Generally, you are part of an auditing and accounting practice that dispenses services to businesses getting ready to submit their tax returns.
You may also be required to advise on mergers and acquisitions that your client companies are dealing with. Vital duties include implementing financial audits where fraud is suspected. The same applies when reviewing activities for deficiencies and potential improvement in the business from time to time.
This automatically embraces offering financial advice, restructuring financial systems and budgets, and dealing with extreme situations such as Chapter 11 filings. As time goes on, you’ll probably gravitate toward auditing, management consultancy, forensic accountancy, corporate finance, or taxation as a specialty.
You’ll need to study and serve articles to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), which ultimately requires you to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.
With an average salary of $59,000, a financial Advisor is arguably the fastest-growing career category in finance and is expected to be a mainstream opening for finance degree graduates in the next ten years. Other names attached to this career are financial planners or wealth managers.
You will find high demand for your services at banks, fund companies, mortgage entities, pension funds, insurance providers, and the like. It is a highly regulated industry, and skills are quite specific.
Aside from any finance degree earned at undergraduate or masters level, you need to pass the Series 7 exam, managed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
With an average salary of $85,000, actuaries – employed mostly by life insurance companies and investment banks – are involved in forecasting, assessing, managing, and advising on future financial risks. The emphasis on exceptional skills in mathematics and statistics as a base is vital.
It’s sometimes a challenge for actuaries to communicate in layman’s terms. The successful ones demonstrate excellent presentation capabilities. A fully-fledged actuary requires official certification through the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
Other careers a finance degree can qualify you for are:
- Financial Trading. Buying and selling financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, assets, and funds inside institutions that represent clients.
- Various stockbroker roles that may include supporting clients to make informed investment decisions in diverse financial options.
- Commercial banking offers opportunities in various functions like a teller, sales associate, trust officer, loan officer, or even a branch manager.
- Other designations that connect to finance degrees are licensed conveyancer, pivotal responsibilities in hedge fund entities, or companies offering client services in taxation matters, management consultancy, and data science.
Ron Auerbach, MBA
Educator | Career Coach | Job Search Expert | Author, Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success
There are many job opportunities and directions for those majoring in finance. Jobs where you can work for an employer or become self-employed. And jobs that fall under the personal finance umbrella, as well as other jobs within the field of corporate finance.
For example, you can work in banking. At the lowest level in a branch office, there are bank tellers. Most though will get their start as a personal banker, which is a very common title for a customer service representative.
Many people will begin a finance career working on the lending side. So becoming a management trainee that leads to a loan officer position. Or landing a job as a mortgage broker or loans processor.
Some people will choose to work in the automotive industry by handling car loans. So credit and lending fall under the umbrella of finance.
Others will begin a career in the investment banking side by working as a trader.
You can also work for a financial services firm as an analyst. The two most common jobs are a business analyst and financial analyst. At many companies, there are entry-level analysts, which are commonly referred to as junior analysts.
We have positions such as a stockbroker, financial consultant, financial advisor, and registered representative. Lots of people get their finance career started working in these jobs.
Insurance is another common avenue for finance majors. On the selling side, the most common job would be an insurance agent. So insurance products fall under the general category of finance.
Many finance majors will choose to go the personal finance route with a job like a personal or certified financial planner. So as you can see from all this, there are lots of opportunities and directions available to finance majors and degree holders.
Dr. Mark Farrell, FIA
Scholar | Senior Lecturer of Actuarial Science, Queen’s University Belfast | Blogger, Proactuary
In a finance degree, you are likely to have learned all about making and managing money, typically at the corporate level. You should have learned many of the skills and knowledge that are needed to succeed in the financial industry such as banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerages.
Your skills should, therefore, allow you to work in many different areas of financial services. Jobs that you may go on to include becoming an actuary (mainly insurance companies, but actuaries may also work in banks and investment firms), a financial analyst, an accountant or perhaps even a management consultant.
Furthermore, as much of the world we live in revolves around finance, your knowledge and skills are likely to be in demand across the world.
Mark Anthony Grimaldi
Economist | Co-Founder, Grimaldi Portfolio Solutions | Author, RetireSMART!
For the numerically inclined woman, a finance degree presents numerous opportunities beyond the stereotypes portrayed in movies—the dull accountant or the Wall Street trading whiz.
In the real world, a finance degree will teach you how to evaluate a company’s financial health, detect errors or fraud in financial statements, and work with people who need assistance with their finances.
With these skills, a finance degree could mean a position as an analyst, who looks for market trends and investment opportunities, then calculates potential outcomes and risk.
It could involve working in a role that is responsible for the overall financial health of an organization (called a financial manager, controller, treasurer, or chief financial officer).
If you like working with people, consider being a financial advisor, investment consultant, or financial planner—or work entirely on the sales side of the financial world as a broker or consultant.
And if you like building businesses, consider the cache of an investment banking job, which plays a key role in helping companies obtain capital financing. Most financial companies, traditionally dominated by men, are eager to find qualified women to fill their ranks.
CEO & Co-founder, Community Tax, Finance Pal
Commercial Real Estate Agent
The primary duties of a commercial real estate agent are making sure clients fall in love with real estate, having an impressive knowledge of the market demographics, and supporting findings with strong financial analysis.
There is a lot of financial research that goes into buying property or leasing locations for office buildings. There is a complex amount of research to do a deep analysis of lease payments and other commercial properties.
Someone with a finance degree will help validate that they are capable of completing the financial research and still able to close a deal.
Certified Financial Planner, Bullogic Wealth
With a B.S. in Finance from the University of Houston, I have taken on several finance positions.
My last position was as an Investment Advisor managing a small seven-figure hedge fund. It was my job to monitor investments, build reports for both internal and external use, and meet with clients to explain where the fund was at.
Certified Financial Planner
After getting out of the Investment Advisor game, I moved to own and managing a financial planning firm. I continued my education by becoming a Certifed Financial Planner.
Now I get to help clients make sense of their financial situation and how best to move forward to achieve the goals. The work of a financial planner is incredibly rewarding.
Having clients breathe a sigh of relief by just being able to tell someone about their financial struggles is worth it, but then by being able to walk them through decisions and steps to set their financial life right, is amazing.
I wish I knew about financial planners when I was in school because this is the route I would have followed many years ago.
Attorney | Co-Founder, StokeDrift | Director of Marketing, WealthFit Money
Having a financial degree means you have the knowledge to advise others on how to manage their finances. Financial majors are able to understand trends in the market and are knowledgeable on a variety of investments.
They’re the ones that assist clients in managing their personal finances based on their needs. This career path may be good for those who have strong communication skills along with persuasive abilities.
Duties include gaining more clients, meeting with clients to discuss investment priorities and opportunities, researching new investment.
If you have a finance degree and you’re interested in working with businesses, consider becoming a management analyst. These are professionals that work as consultants for businesses and provide them insight on what could be going wrong and what changes they can make.
Duties include analyzing revenue and financial data, create solutions to increase efficiency and advise businesses on how to increase revenue.
Financial majors with a strong skill set in math, statistics and financial theory may find in an interest in an Actuary path. Actuaries forecast future financial risks for banks, corporate finance, insurance companies and more.
They do have to have strong communication skills to present information to those who aren’t up to speed on finances.