Finance jobs are often considered a good option for those interested in money management, banking, and/or economics. The people who do well in and like these professions most typically enjoy working with numbers and analyzing data that can be used in various ways. Employment opportunities are generally plentiful and pay potential is better than many other occupations in the United States. This is also a comparatively secure field with prospects for advancement.
Skills in finance are often in high demand throughout the nation, with options available in both the public and private sectors. Those with the necessary education, training, and experience can find work in almost any industry. The field is also closely linked to business, resulting in even more opportunities. This all allows for a degree of flexibility, making it easy to diversify experience and/or change careers.
It's important to realize that the finance career field is not for everyone. Some potential drawbacks include long working hours and the need for continuing education. Many employment opportunities related to finance can also be stressful.
The finance field is expansive, with numerous occupations available at every level. Those with the necessary knowledge and skills can qualify for a wide variety of professional opportunities across multiple industries. This is beneficial as practitioners can choose to specialize in areas that interest them most. Some common examples include analysis, financial technology, trading, and economic.
The majority of finance occupations fall into one of the following subfields:
Corporate finance professionals handle the finances of companies and organizations. They often help manage funding sources, capital structuring, and investment decisions, as well as providing various standard accounting services. Jobs in this subfield generally relate to maximizing profits and minimizing costs through short and long-term financial planning.
Financial planning and advising professionals help individuals and companies create functional plans for their personal and/or business funds. They often strive to develop strong relationships with clients in order to better understand their ultimate financial goals. Jobs in this subfield generally involve providing guidance, insight, and legal explanations needed to achieve intended outcomes.
Banking professionals work for banks or other financial institutions. They may be responsible for a wide variety of responsibilities including meeting with members, managing deposits/withdrawals, setting up accounts, authorizing loans, and overseeing investments. Jobs in this subfield typically involve assisting clients with the specific services and products offered by particular banks.
Accounting professionals help maintain the financial health of individuals and/or companies. They may work for established firms or manage their own clients. Jobs in this subfield often involve handling a wide variety of financial processes, as well as ensuring all state and national finance laws are being followed properly.
Investment professionals facilitate funding opportunities, often by connecting individuals and companies in need of money with potential investors capable of supplying required resources. They are generally well-versed in market trends. Jobs in this subfield may relate to helping clients diversify portfolios, manage assets, and reduce financial risk.
Insurance professionals work for agencies that offer prepaid policies that provide financial benefit in case of calamity. They can hold a wide variety of positions at varying levels, from customer service to risk assessment. Jobs in this subfield generally involve processes related to the policy options available to clients.
Finance professionals often possess a variety of both soft and hard skills that enable them to make informed decisions, assess risk, solve problems, and navigate relevant laws. While most skills are obtained and developed while attending academic institutions, some may be attained through on-the-job experience or during training exercises.
One of the most important skills needed to be successful in finance is mastery over certain branches of mathematics. Algebra, calculus, and statistics may prove particularly necessary, depending on the profession chosen. A strong understanding of math ensures that professionals in this field are able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures.
Those in finance also tend to be good communicators in person and in writing. Not only do these professionals need to understand complex financial transactions, but they must be capable of explaining and justifying them to others. The ability to listen is vital, as well. It’s often necessary for clients to discuss various aspects of their personal funds and financial goals, details of which can greatly impact recommendations.
Further, the best financial professionals are analytical and capable of evaluating data, identifying issues, and suggesting solutions. As they are often involved in assisting executives in making decisions, the ability to assess relevant information quickly is highly valuable. Similarly, being detail oriented and organized is also helpful. These skills are particularly relevant when examining and compiling documents.
As you can see, it's important to realize that every role requires different skills and experiences. The best way to demonstrate expertise in specific areas is to obtain professional financial certifications. While not always required, many employers and clients give preference to those who possess these credentials.
Most finance professionals in the United States have completed some amount of higher education. While entry-level positions may be attainable with self-taught knowledge, on-the-job training, and professional experience, the mass majority of employers in this field expect candidates to have degrees in finance, business, or a related subject.
Colleges and universities throughout the nation offer finance degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Some academic institutions also have undergraduate and/or graduate certificate programs available, which are especially helpful when specializing in a particular subfield or transitioning from a different career.
In most cases, the minimum standard for financial employment opportunities is a four-year bachelor’s degree. Individuals seeking supervisory roles, however, will likely require master’s degrees or specialty certifications. Those with more education often have the best job prospects. Graduates with more advanced degrees generally have access to the best and most lucrative finance occupations. It’s also important to realize that education standards vary based on the type of profession sought. Identifying ultimate career goals can make it easier to determine which degree is necessary.
Once education requirements have been met, it may be beneficial to seek one or more finance certifications. While not always required, many employers and clients give preference to those who possess them. Additional credentials in this field generally demonstrate the highest ethical and professional standards.
Some of the most popular examples include:
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for business and financial occupations is expected to increase by 7% from 2021 to 2031. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations in the United States and will result in about 980,200 job openings each year. This includes approximately 715,100 new positions, as well as availability due to workers who retire or transition into other fields.
Potential financial professionals should realize that prospects vary by occupation. The projected growth for some professions is significantly better than others. While employment for budget analysts is expected to increase by only 3% by 2031, logisticians are likely to see gains of 28% over the same period. Employment for financial examiners is also anticipated to rise by 21%. These rates are much faster than the average for all occupations in the nation. Other fast-growing finance occupations include financial managers, personal finance advisors, market research analysts, and fundraisers.
There are several factors impacting growth in the finance sector. One of the most significant is the increasing popularity of E-commerce, which makes logistics much more dynamic and complex for businesses. As a result, more experts in the field are needed to move products more effectively, solve problems, and identify areas of improvement. Federal regulations are also becoming more complicated. In turn, the demand for financial workers has risen to help banking institutions remain in compliance. Additionally, many of the key services related to finance planning, directing, and investing are expected to become even more important as the economy continues to grow. Further, the large aging population and retiring baby boomers will drive up employment for professionals involved in personal finance.
It’s also important to note that employment for financial professions varies by location. States that hire the most workers in these occupations include California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Virginia. Those with the lowest employment are Vermont, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana.
As previously mentioned, the most lucrative finance positions are typically reserved for those with advanced academic degrees. Professionals with extensive training, certifications, and experience will also have higher earning potential. This is particularly true for those who remain in the profession for 10 to 20 years. Those with many years dedicated to their profession often see significant gains during the later years of their careers.
Salary potential for financial professionals also varies by location. States with the highest mean wages include New York, Washington, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. Those with the lowest annual mean wages are West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Montana.
Earning an associate degree in finance, business, or a related subject can lead to many career opportunities in the field. Graduates typically qualify for entry-level employment only and may be competing for jobs against individuals with more education. Notably, however, it’s possible to advance to more lucrative positions by gaining years of experience and completing additional training. This is particularly true for non-traditional finance roles. Prospective professionals should also realize that certain certification opportunities may be restricted until a four-year degree is obtained.
Some of the best paying finance jobs available to those with associate degrees include the following.
Mean Salary: $45,200
Employment of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is projected to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Employers generally give preference to candidates who have completed college courses in related subjects. This includes associate degrees. Beneficial skills include bookkeeping, Intuit QuickBooks, and payroll administration.
Bookkeepers are responsible for tracking and recording financial transactions for companies and organizations. They must calculate, record, and balance various financial reports. These professionals also coordinate changes in salaries and benefits with other employees.
Mean Salary: $48,900
Employment of loan officers is projected to grow 4% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Loan officers typically need bachelor’s degrees, but it is possible to enter the occupation with an associate degree and related work experience. Beneficial skills include customer service, loan processing, and loan underwriting.
Loan officers provide customer service to new applicants and current clients seeking assistance from financial institutions. They assess individual needs and determine which products are most suitable before coordinating with the underwriting department during the loan application process. These professionals may also often responsible for determining if customers are eligible for loans.
Mean Salary: $63,064
Employment of budget analysts is projected to grow 3% from 2021 to 2031, which is slower than the average for all occupations.
Budget analysts typically need bachelor’s degrees, but it is possible to enter the occupation with an associate degree. Beneficial skills include financial analysis, budget management, and Microsoft Excel.
Budget analysts help companies and organizations develop appropriate budgets. They consider past performance in order to ensure financial plans are effective and efficient. These professionals also must present their findings and recommendations to management, executives, and other team members.
Mean Salary: $71,050
Employment of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Purchasing managers typically need bachelor’s degrees, but it is possible to find employment at smaller organizations with an associate degree. Beneficial skills include inventory management, negotiation, and procurement.
Purchasing managers are responsible for handling contract negotiations and maintaining relations with vendors. They spend time finding the best possible contacts with the most reasonable prices, as well as managing employees involved in the buying/distribution process. These professionals also analyze and implement new purchasing and delivery systems.
Mean Salary: $85,150
Employment of administrative services and facilities managers is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Facilities directors typically need bachelor’s degrees, but it is possible to enter the occupation with an associate degree. Beneficial skills include facility maintenance, project management, and budget management.
Facilities directors oversee the daily operations of assigned buildings. They are often responsible for managing associated staff members, budgets, and subcontractors. These professionals may also be responsible for negotiating leases and overseeing construction projects.
As previously mentioned, a bachelor’s degree is the education standard for most finance professions. The mass majority of employers in the field expect candidates to possess four-year degrees in finance, business, or a related subject. Graduates typically qualify for entry-level and receive preference during the hiring process. Obtaining various professional certifications can improve prospects even more.
Advancing to better paying positions often requires additional work experience and training. The best way to qualify for these jobs, however, is by earning master’s degrees in finance or business administration. A master of business administration (MBA) is particularly helpful for those who intend to seek supervisory roles. There are also many relevant credentials that require candidates to possess graduate degrees.
Some of the best paying finance jobs available to those with bachelor’s degrees include the following.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Mean Salary: $71,000
Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) typically need bachelor’s degrees in accounting, but often achieve certification faster with master’s degrees. Beneficial skills include process improvement, project management, and business analysis.
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) handle general accounting, tax, reporting, and audits for individuals, companies, and organizations. They review financial information, prepare documentation, and ensure familiarity with changing government regulations. They may also make suggestions to improve bookkeeping and recordkeeping processes.
Business Process/Management Consultant
Mean Salary: $88,000
Employment of management analysts is projected to grow 11% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Management analysts typically need bachelor’s degrees for entry-level opportunities. However, some employers expect candidates to have master’s degrees. Beneficial skills include process improvement, project management, and business analysis.
Business process/management consultants evaluate the production process for companies and organizations, making suggestions to improve it when possible. They may recommend new equipment, staff, methods, team building, or mentoring programs. These professionals often help eliminate unnecessary costs and increase communication.
Mean Salary: $96,600
Employment of financial managers is projected to grow 17% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Financial managers typically need bachelor’s degrees. Beneficial skills financial analysis, budgeting, and accounting.
Financial managers make financial forecasts as they develop and monitor departmental budgets. They keep track of ongoing expenses and ensure their department does not spend more than allocated. These professionals must also make regular and timely reports.
Financial Analysis Manager
Mean Salary: $97,700
Employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 9% from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Financial analysts typically need bachelor’s degrees, but many employers prefer candidates with master’s degrees. Beneficial skills include financial analysis, financial modeling, and forecasting.
Financial analysis managers oversee all analysis activities for their company or organization. They collect financial information and consolidate it into performance reports that stakeholders can use to reach various goals. These professionals may also manage groups of financial analysts.
Mean Salary: $87,600
Employment of financial controllers is projected to grow 17% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Financial controllers typically need bachelor’s degrees. Beneficial skills include general ledger accounting, budgeting, and Microsoft Excel.
Financial controllers manage financial departments for companies and organizations. They may oversee accounting, budgeting, auditing, or any other finance-related activities. These professionals are generally responsible for producing critical financial reports, profit/loss statements, balance sheets, and financial prospectuses.
Mean Salary: $94,170
Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree, but it is possible to find employment at smaller organizations with an associate degree. Typically a fiancial advisor will be required to not only have a bachelors, but also have passed the Series 7 and Series 63 securities licensing.
As financial experts, financial advisors are responsible for creating comprehensive financial plans that address all aspects of a client’s financial situation. These plans may involve analyzing client financial data, outlining investment strategies, and recommending various financial products and services that can help clients achieve their goals.
To fulfill their responsibilities and provide the best possible service, financial advisors must have strong communication skills. It is essential for them to be able to clearly explain complex financial concepts to clients in a way that is easy to understand. They must also be able to listen attentively to clients' needs, questions, and concerns and provide ongoing support and education to clients throughout their entire financial journey. Financial advisors are often experts in various areas of finance such as retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, and investment management.
Investment Banker (Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents)
Mean Salary: $62,910
Employment of investment bankers is projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than the average for all financial occupations.
Investment bankers typically need a bachelor’s degree, but it is possible to find employment at smaller organizations with an associate degree.
One of the primary responsibilities of an investment banker is to provide insightful advice to corporations and individuals regarding financial markets and investment opportunities. This requires a strong knowledge of financial analysis, as well as the ability to identify trends and make accurate predictions about the future direction of the market. Additionally, investment bankers must have excellent communication skills, as they will often be required to meet with clients to discuss investment strategies and provide guidance.
Another important aspect of the investment banking role is portfolio management. Investment bankers must be able to manage their clients' investments effectively, ensuring that they are invested in a diverse range of securities and positioned strategically to maximize returns. They must also be able to monitor the performance of their clients' portfolios and adjust the investments as necessary over time.
Financial Risk Specialist
Mean Salary: $116,140
There is not any data showing the future growth on financial risk analysts from 2021 to 2031, but this is a very lucrative position that currently employs about 55,800 people.
Financial risk specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field.
Risk management is a crucial function in finance, as it helps companies to make informed decisions and avoid unexpected losses. The success of a company greatly depends on how effectively it manages its risks. A Financial risk specialist plays a vital role in this process by developing and implementing risk management strategies.
To be successful in this role, a financial risk specialist must possess a range of skills, including strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate effectively. They are expected to have a deep understanding of financial markets, and be able to analyze complex financial data. They must also be able to make strategic recommendations based on their analysis, while ensuring that the company's financial goals are met.
Financial risks can come in many forms, but two of the most common types are market risk and credit risk. Market risk refers to the risk of losses in financial markets due to fluctuations in asset prices, interest rates, or exchange rates. A Financial Risk Specialist must be able to identify and assess these risks, and develop strategies to mitigate them.
Mean Salary: $105,630
Employment of economists is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Economists typically need at a minimum a bachelor’s degree, but in most cases will want and even be required to have a masters in finance.
Economists play a critical role in the finance field, as their insights help organizations and government entities make informed financial decisions. They are responsible for analyzing economic trends, conducting data analysis, and utilizing econometrics to make sense of complex financial data.
One of the primary responsibilities of an economist is to study economic trends and identify potential opportunities or risks that may impact financial decision-making. They utilize a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data to develop financial models, make financial forecasts and inform policy recommendations. An economist must also have a deep understanding of financial markets and be able to interpret current events, economic indicators, and public policy changes and how they may impact financial decision-makers.
Financial and Investment Analyst
Mean Salary: $108,790
Employment of financial and investment analysts is very strong with over 291,000 professionals employes in this career across the country.
Financial and investment analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or other related field.
Financial and investment analyst is an exciting and challenging career path that requires strong analytical skills and expertise in evaluating financial positions and investments. A financial and investment analyst plays a crucial role in advising clients on investment opportunities that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.
There are several areas of specialization that can be pursued in this field, such as risk management and portfolio management. Risk management involves assessing the probability of risks and creating strategies to mitigate them. On the other hand, portfolio management involves selecting individual investments and building a diversified portfolio that aligns with clients' financial goals.