Finance Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-09-0825 min read

Finance careers predate modern technologies and have existed since trading began. However, business and regulatory advancements have made a finance degree from an accredited institution imperative.

Small businesses, multinational corporations, and everything in between would keep requiring the services of qualified finance professionals.

Why Choose Finance?

A career in finance is worth exploring for several reasons:

  • A financially rewarding career.

  • Your services are needed in many industries.

  • High job security if you keep improving.

  • Most finance career paths share similarities, making it easy for professionals to pivot between fields.

  • Finance professionals have opportunities to freelance alongside full-time employment.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year, almost one million new job opportunities exist in finance.

How to Start your Finance Journey

You can start your finance journey by getting an associate degree in a finance-related course. However, you would hardly get any high-paying opportunities without a bachelor's degree, at least.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

Associate degree holders have limited career opportunities in finance. You can get jobs as an account collector, accounting clerk, junior accountant, or bookkeeper. While these jobs might not pay you mind-blowing sums, they provide you an opportunity to get accustomed to the world of finance.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in finance opens you up to new opportunities and raises your career ceiling greatly. Most high-paying finance jobs do not consider candidates who haven't bagged their BSc. Investing the four years to get your degree can lead to jobs like financial analyst, budget analyst, and personal financial advisor.

Master's Degree

A master's degree in finance helps to narrow your studies to an area of specialization. Most management positions have an MSc in finance-related courses as a minimum requirement. Also, having a master's degree allows you to land senior roles like senior financial analyst and financial controller.

Doctorate in Finance

Many people pursue a doctorate in finance because they want to focus on a career in research or lecturing. However, being a finance doctorate holder qualifies you for nearly every position in the financial industry. In the corporate world, only doctorate-holders can fill leadership positions like finance director and vice president of finance.

Employment Prospects

While some industries are taking a hit due to technological advancements, the forecast looks great for finance. According to the aforementioned BLS report, business and financial occupations are set to increase by 7% in the next decade. The need to replace workers joined with the formation of new jobs would result in 980,200 openings annually.

Finance Career Forecast

Pursuing a career in finance will demand that you keep upgrading your skills. You can stay relevant if you get the necessary certifications and update yourself on new financial procedures and career paths with high potential.

Lucrative Finance Career Paths

Aside from popular jobs like being an accountant or economist, many people don't know what roles they can pursue in finance. This ignorance of the career paths in finance partly explains some reluctance to pursue a career in finance.

Accountant and Auditor

Accountants and auditors create and inspect financial statements according to legal requirements.

Average Salary

Accountants and auditors earned $77,250 per year in 2021. Low-earners earned $47,970, and high-earners made over $128,000 per annum.

Roles and Responsibilities

Accountant and auditor duties include:

  • Manages financial records.

  • Ensures financial compliance with government regulations.

  • Provides business growth advice.

  • Identifies and prevents fraud.

  • Manages tax payments.

  • Works in financial forensics and investigations.

Industries Employing Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors can be gainfully employed in industries such as:

  • Government agencies

  • Academic institutions

  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

  • Retail stores

  • Multinational corporations

  • IT firms


Actuaries use statistics to analyze risk and report their findings to their clients.

Average Salary

In 2021, actuaries were one of the highest earners in finance, with a median annual wage of $105,900. Low-earners made $63,260, and high-earners earned over $206,800.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some duties of an actuary are:

  • Analyzes statistical data to determine potential risk.

  • Updates management on new financial developments.

  • Explains calculations and proposals to stakeholders using charts, tables, and reports.

  • Creates and tests insurance policies.

  • Estimates the economic impact of major events.

Industries Employing Actuaries

Industries that require the services of actuaries include:

  • Insurance companies

  • Investment firms

  • Governments

  • Banks

Agent and Business Manager of Artists, Performers, and Athletes

Agents and business managers represent clients in business negotiations.

Average Salary

The median annual salary of a sports or arts agent in 2021 is $78,410. Earnings of the bottom 10% are around $47,370, while the top 10% earn over $208,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

Agents perform the following roles for their clients:

  • Negotiate contracts and endorsement deals.

  • Protect image rights.

  • Identify investment opportunities.

  • Client promotion.

Industries Employing Agents and Business Managers

A list of some industries that employ agents and business managers are:

  • Sports agencies

  • Independent artists and performers

  • Sports teams

  • Record labels

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help clients plan and monitor their finances.

Average Salary

In 2021, budget analysts made an annual median wage of $79,940; the lowest 10% made less than $49,330, while the top earners made over $124,440.

Roles and Responsibilities

Budget analysts perform the following tasks:

  • Develop budgets.

  • Estimate and plan for future expenses.

  • Promote cost-effective management.

  • Explain funding requests.

  • Review budget proposals.

Industries Employing Budget Analysts

A budget analyst's services are needed in industries such as:

  • Government agencies

  • Academic institutions

Credit Analyst

Credit analysts evaluate the risk of lending money by analyzing credit data and financial statements.

Average Salary

Low-earning credit analysts made an annual wage of $47,630 in 2021; the median wage was $77,440, while top earners made more than $153,560.

Roles and Responsibilities

A credit analyst's roles and responsibilities include:

  • Assesses the creditworthiness of individuals and companies.

  • Loan limit evaluation.

  • Financial health evaluation.

  • Prepares credit information reports.

Industries Employing Credit Analysts

Credit analysts can be employed in industries such as:

  • Business support services

  • Microfinance banks

  • Commercial banks

  • Monetary authorities

  • Automotive Equipment Rental and Leasing


Economists study economic issues using data and statistics.

Average Salary

Economists earned a median annual wage of $105,630 in 2021; the low-earners earned around $62,460, while the top 10% made over $193,690.

Roles and Responsibilities

Economists have some important roles and responsibilities, including:

  • Identify economic problems and possible solutions.

  • Predict market trends.

  • Analyze and develop government economic policies.

  • Give business strategy advice.

  • Gather socioeconomic data and statistics.

Industries Employing Economists

Some industries where economists can find employment are:

  • Government agencies

  • Financial consultancies

  • Multinational corporations

  • Insurance agencies

  • Banks

Financial and Investment Analyst

Financial and investment analysts assess and inform clients' investment decisions.

Average Salary

Financial and investment analysts made an average annual wage of $91,580 in 2021. The top 10% earned over $166,560, while the low-earners made less than $57,900.

Roles and Responsibilities

Financial and investment analysts perform the following roles:

  • Identify investment opportunities for clients.

  • Evaluate the outcome of business decisions.

  • Assess the performance of previous investments.

  • Analyze a company's value.

Industries Employing Financial and Investment Analysts

Financial and investment analysts can be gainfully employed in industries such as:

  • Investment banks

  • Insurance agencies

  • Mutual funds

  • Venture capital firms

Financial Examiner

A financial examiner ensures that financial institutions operate legally.

Average Salary

In 2021, high-earning financial examiners made an annual wage of over $160,000; low earners made less than $48,830, and the median wage was $81,410.

Roles and Responsibilities

Fiancial examiners usually do the following:

  • Monitor the state of banks and other financial institutions.

  • Evaluate risk level of loans.

  • Assess bank management.

  • Determine the impact of new laws on financial institutions.

  • Investigate and report fraud within organizations.

Industries Employing Financial Examiners

Financial examiners can work in places like:

  • Banks

  • Insurance companies

  • Government agencies

Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee an organization's financial goals and reports.

Average Salary

Financial managers earned $131,710 per year in 2021. Low-earners earned $77,040, and high-earners made over $208,000 per annum.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of financial managers include:

  • Provide financial guidance.

  • Prepare financial statements.

  • Supervise the entire finance department.

  • Analyze and protect against business risks.

Industries Employing Financial Managers

Financial managers can find employment in the following industries:

  • Government agencies

  • Company management

  • Investment firms

  • Insurance companies

Investment Banker

Investment bankers primarily help companies raise capital; they also oversee mergers and acquisitions.

Average Salary

Investment bankers earn a $101,800 median annual wage. Low-earners earn around $54,000, and high-earners over $208,000 per annum.

Roles and Responsibilities

An investment banker's duties include:

  • Raises capital.

  • Orchestrates mergers and acquisitions.

  • Facilitates investment in a business.

  • Corporate restructuring.

  • Evaluates a company's value.

  • Performs financial research.

  • Establishes and maintains client relationships.

Industries Employing Investment Bankers

Financial managers can be employed by:

  • Investment banks

  • Government agencies

  • Commercial banks

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts compile and analyze market data to guide a company's decisions.

Average Salary

In 2021, high-earning market research analysts received annual wages over $128,000; the median wage was $63,920, and the low earners made $37,570.

Roles and Responsibilities

Market research analysts have the following duties:

  • Gather market and consumer data.

  • Predict market trends using data.

  • Devise marketing strategies and analyze the effectiveness of previous ones.

  • Present reports to management and clients.

  • Research of competition

Industries Employing Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts can find employment in industries such as:

  • IT firms

  • Consulting firms

  • Publishing industries

  • Finance and insurance

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors provide financial guidance to individuals.

Average Salary

In 2021, personal financial advisors earned a median annual wage of $94,170; low-earners made less than $47,570, and the top 10% earned over $208,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some duties a personal financial advisor offers their clients are:

  • Analyzes and sets financial goals.

  • College planning.

  • Retirement planning.

  • Creates expense budgets.

  • Tax planning.

  • Offers investment advice.

Industries Employing Personal Financial Advisors

Industries that require the services of personal financial advisors include:

  • Athletes and artists

  • Insurance agencies

  • Freelancing

Quantitative Analyst

Quantitative analysts influence business decisions using mathematical and statistical methods.

Average Salary

The median annual salary of a quantitative analyst in 2021 is $86,023. Earnings of the bottom 10% are around $47,370, while the top 10% earn over $208,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of quantitative analysts include:

  • Create mathematical models for data analysis.

  • Influence a client's financial decisions.

  • Identify investment opportunities.

  • Calculate investment risk.

  • Create trade algorithms.

Industries Employing Quantitative Analysts

A quantitative analyst can be employed by:

  • Insurance companies

  • Hedge funds

  • Private equity firms

  • Forex brokers

Securities Sales Agent

Securities sales agents connect prospective buyers to sellers in financial markets.

Average Salary

In 2021, high-earning securities sales agents made an annual wage of over $205,000, far greater than the median wage of $62,910. The low-earners made less than $37,970.

Roles and Responsibilities

Securities sales agents usually do the following:

  • Evaluate agreement cost.

  • Offer consultation services on securities.

  • Trade securities and commodities.

  • Recommend mergers and acquisitions based on analysis.

Industries Employing Securities Sales Agents

Securities Sales Agents can work in places like:

  • Investment and commercial banks

  • Hedge funds

  • Private equity groups

  • Credit intermediation

Valuation Analyst

Valuation analysts analyze businesses, assets, expenses, etc to determine their estimated value.

Average Salary

In 2022, the average annual salary of a valuation analyst is $64,277; the lower 10% make around $51,000, while the top 10% earn over $82,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

The duties of a valuation analyst include:

  • Creates mathematical valuation models.

  • Gathers data for valuation.

  • Offers pre-sale or purchase advice to clients.

  • Predicts future value of assets.

Industries Employing Valuation Analysts

Valuation analysts can find employment in places such as:

  • Hedge funds

  • Insurance companies

  • Banks

Tax Examiners and Collectors and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that businesses and individuals pay their tax.

Average Salary

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents made a median annual wage of $56,780 in 2021. The low earners made less than $35,260, while the top 10% earned over $102,800.

Roles and Responsibilities

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents usually do the following:

  • Identify and collect overdue tax payments.

  • Audit and investigate income tax returns.

  • Notify taxpayers of underpayment or overpayment.

  • Refund tax overpayments.

  • Inform taxpayers of changes to tax laws.

Industries Employing Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work for local, state, or federal government agencies.

How to Boost your Finance Career

Continuous education is the first way to boost your career in finance; this could be through higher education or professional certifications.

Experience matters to employers in finance, so boost your portfolio by taking entry-level jobs.

People matter in finance, so consciously leave good impressions and build relationships with your colleagues everywhere you work. Also, rub minds with the best in the business by having a mentor and consistently attending industry summits.

Pros and Cons of Finance Careers

A career in finance comes with some pros and cons.


  • Lots of financially rewarding fields.

  • Job stability.

  • Growth opportunities.

  • Lucrative commissions and bonuses for high performance.


  • High barrier of entry.

  • Long hours of work, sometimes on weekends.

  • Little mistakes can be costly.

  • Continuous demand for certifications.

Skills You'll Develop While Studying Finance

Studying finance would expose you to some key skills.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is necessary for finance because you'll deal with numbers a lot! A missed figure or decimal point can cause huge losses or lead to legal action. Therefore, you'll have to build a keen eye that doesn't just gloss over information but reads them in-depth.

Critical Thinking and Analysis

Finance deals with lots of calculations that require a very clear head. Some fields in finance have "analysis" in their title and even the ones that don't demand that you critically analyze chunks of data and make sense of it.

Interpersonal Skills

Finance departments in most companies have multiple staff members that work together regularly. Every team member must learn to cooperate on several projects and tasks.

Some finance roles demand regular meetings with prospects and clients, while others require presentations to board members.

Management Skills

Some finance jobs require you to manage subordinates and get them to perform their tasks effectively.

The finance department usually has a degree of oversight over most departments in large corporations. Investment bankers often have to manage the successful merger of companies with different modes of operation.

Software Skills

Knowing how to operate a computer is essential to a successful finance career. You'll need to use word processors, presentation, and spreadsheet software proficiently. Some fields of finance require you to learn how to use specialized software for certain functions.

How to Prepare for a Finance Career

1. Get a Degree in Finance

Careers in finance are highly competitive, making it impossible to land a job without a degree. Working towards getting a bachelor's degree gives you better chances at entry-level jobs. Many employers only consider Master's degree holders for top jobs; therefore, that should be your long-term goal.

2. Apply for Internships

Internships allow you to learn the practical aspects of the job, causing employers to favor you. Seek internship opportunities in your desired field of work. Let the work experience be your priority because many internships won't pay you well enough.

3. Get Professional Certifications

Many finance jobs require professional certifications to land. Some people work on their professional certifications while in school, but it can be very stressful. Some companies have graduate trainee programs that include professional certification exams.

4. Build a Professional Online Presence

Building a professional online presence can give you an edge if a prospective employer decides to do a background check. Job platforms like LinkedIn allow you to access job and internship opportunities that would otherwise be beyond your reach.

You can also make mentorship and business connections with lots of people online.

Finance Resources to Help Your Career

Here are some professional certifications that will aid your career in finance.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): A CPA certification is compulsory if you desire a career in accounting.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): A CFA certification is necessary for most analysis and money management-related jobs.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP): The CFP certification is necessary for professional financial planners.

Financial Risk Manager (FRM): The FRM certification is designed for people interested in risk management careers.

How to Switch to a Finance Career

Your first step is knowing the particular field you're seeking entry into. Find out the demands of the role you desire by asking a professional or searching for the job on LinkedIn and noting the requirements.

Your final step should be taking the necessary certifications and applying for jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Finance?

Finance is a broad term that refers to the study and management of money and investment. The field also encompasses the generation of money to fund projects and businesses.

What certification do I need for a Finance career?

The necessary certifications for a career in finance vary depending on your desired finance job role. Some common ones include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Financial Risk Manager (FRM).

Can I get a Finance degree online?

Yes, you can get a bachelor's degree in finance online. The curriculum is usually similar to degrees in physical classrooms. It consists of courses like accounting, business management, economics, and law and ethics.

The completion period for online finance degrees is around four years or 120 to 128 credits.

What fields can Finance Professionals work in?

Finance professionals can work in various fields, from accounting to investment banking or quantitative analysis. Some fields in finance have overlapping requirements, allowing you to switch between jobs easily.

Is there a high demand for Finance majors?

Yes, there is high demand for finance majors as businesses and individuals want to meet their financial goals amidst economic uncertainty.

The BLS report cited earlier projects a 7% growth in the finance industry between 2021 and 2031. Graduates in finance majors would have around 980,200 new job openings annually.

Final Thoughts

Kickstarting or switching to a career in finance is not easy; however, it can be very rewarding. Few industries offer you the stability, financial reward, and room for continued growth that finance does.

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