For those who are interested in numbers, have a methodical nature, and love to produce and analyze financial data, a career in the financial industry might be a good choice. Depending on one’s interests, skills, and goals, there are a number of financial services careers students and professionals can choose from. Some can work as investment bankers or financial planners, while others may choose to be financial analysts and managers. Some can pursue jobs in the insurance industry or work as loan officers.

Many of these jobs require a bachelor’s degree, which can provide professionals with the necessary skills in financial services, business administration, valuation, financial modeling, allocation of financial resources, and more needed to succeed. Therefore, those who see finance as the right career choice might look into getting a bachelor’s degree in financial services. Jobs in this industry are generally expected to increase between 7% and 14% in the coming decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so it may be a good time to get into the field. Here are 10 careers finance professionals can pursue.
Male finance professional with laptop

Employment Opportunities for Financial Services Graduates

The financial sector offers a wide array of employment opportunities for graduates with degrees in financial services. Examples of employers that can offer careers for financial services graduates includes the following:

  • Accounting firms
  • Investment firms
  • Insurance agencies
  • Banks
  • Business real estate firms

Popular Careers for Graduates with a Financial Services Degree

With a financial services degree, graduates can pursue financial services careers in a wide variety of fields and industries. Here are a few careers that are quite popular with financial services graduates.

1. Financial Analyst

Financial analysts analyze financial data for trends and utilize the resulting information to help guide people, businesses, and organizations to make sound investments and financial decisions. They can monitor market trends and make forecasts about various investments, such as stocks, bonds, and other securities. They can also help develop and monitor existing budgets to make sure they are balanced, and can make recommendations about future spending. Analysts can specialize in different fields, such as the oil market, or focus on a certain geographic region. Financial analyst is a common entry-level position for new finance graduates.

Analyst positions usually require a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. Many analysts decide to further their education after a few years by getting an MBA or other master’s degree, or by pursuing other certifications, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential.

Median salary: $81,760 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Networking
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Research
  • Critical thinking

2. Financial Manager

Many financial analysts report to financial managers in an organization. Financial managers are responsible for the overall financial performance of a business or company and help monitor and develop budgets, prepare financial reports, and oversee investments. They usually have some decision-making power and can help advise top executives in an organization.

Financial managers typically hold a master’s degree and about five years of experience in finance, such as financial analysis, investment banking, or advising.

Median salary: $121,750 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Advanced mathematics
  • Analytical skills
  • Keen business acumen
  • Ability to negotiate and moderate

3. Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help monitor an organization’s finances, review budget proposals, and prepare short- and long-term budgets. They can also help assess future performance to see if budgets optimally allocate resources and ensure that they comply with various laws and regulations.

Budget analysts usually have a bachelor’s degree in a finance or business field.

Median salary: $73,840 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Organization
  • Long-term planning
  • Technical writing
  • Interpersonal communication

4. Financial Adviser

Those who love numbers and also want to help people manage their money should consider becoming a financial adviser. Financial advisers use their analytical skills to help clients assess their finances and make the best financial decisions. They focus on investments but can also advise clients on insurance, real estate, savings, college tuition, retirement, and more. Depending on the agreement advisers have with their clients, they may be able to invest and make financial decisions on their behalf.

Financial advisers usually have a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, and many choose to further their education and obtain additional certifications, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP). CFPs are highly sought after because they adhere to a code of ethics and are bound by a fiduciary duty that obliges them to look out for their clients’ best interests.

Median salary: $90,530 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Networking
  • Ability to explain detailed information succinctly
  • Keen analytical skills
  • Understanding of the latest financial and business trends

5. Stockbroker

Many confuse financial planners or advisers with stockbrokers. Stockbrokers buy and sell stocks, bonds, and other financial products and assets for their clients. They usually work for brokerage firms or on trading floors, such as the New York Stock Exchange. Unlike certified financial planners, however, stockbrokers do not have to be impartial and are not bound by a fiduciary duty. They are allowed to sell their brokerage firms’ and other companies’ products and services and earn a commission. Stockbrokers are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Body (FINRA) but much more loosely than certified financial planners.

To become a stockbroker, it is highly recommended that one holds a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. Stockbrokers are also commonly known as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

Median salary: $67,310 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Complete understanding of the stock market
  • Decisive decision-making
  • Research and language
  • Awareness of latest IT systems

6. Loan Officer

Loan officers review and decide on the procurement of loans to clients. They help clients through the application process and make decisions on loan requests after evaluating a client’s need and reviewing the individual’s financial documents, such as credit history and income statement. They also spend time marketing their companies’ products and services to bring in new clients who may need a loan. Loan officers can specialize in different fields, including mortgages, consumer goods, and commercial industries.

Loan officers usually need a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, and many obtain additional certifications and diplomas in their fields of interest, such as a certification from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Median salary: $63,650 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Awareness of economic theories
  • Analytical and interpersonal skills

7. Insurance Underwriter

Insurance underwriters help review client requests for insurance coverage and decide what type of coverage to offer and under what terms. They evaluate a client’s eligibility by looking at various financial documents, as well as other factors depending on the industry. In the last decade, financial software has evolved dramatically, making it much easier for businesses to gather financial data. Due to the overall prevalence of actionable financial data, businesses need financial experts who can quickly analyze this data and provide underwriting services in a timely fashion.

Insurance underwriting usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, or a related field.

Median salary: $67,680 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Ability to negotiate and moderate
  • Analytical abilities
  • Firm grasp of statistics
  • Long-term planning and organization

8. Investment Banker

Investment bankers help bring together companies, governments, and other clients who are seeking funding and those looking to invest their funds. They help companies manage their investments and advise them on market trends and the selling and purchasing of their assets and other companies. Investment bankers are involved in raising capital and trading securities for their clients. Examples of transactions investment bankers get involved in are mergers and acquisitions, in which a company purchases another company, as well as initial public offerings as a company decides to become publicly traded.

Investment bankers usually hold at least a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field.

Median salary: $81,339 (glassdoor.com)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Ability to multi-task
  • Project management
  • Networking and leadership
  • Awareness of pivotal economic and financial trends

9. Commercial Banker

Commercial bankers work in commercial banks, which provide financial services to a wide range of personal and corporate clients. They are not tellers, who usually handle day-to-day transactions for clients, such as making deposits and disbursing cash. Commercial bankers are usually responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with new and existing business and corporate clients, managing loans, and overseeing staff.

A career as a commercial banker usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is generally preferred, along with several years of work experience.

Median salary: $66,286 (payscale.com)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Interpersonal and customer service skills
  • Problem-solving and rapid decision-making
  • Detail-oriented
  • Flexible and adaptable

10. Accountant

Accountants help gather, organize, and report financial data on a daily basis for their clients and companies. They monitor transactions and ensure that accounts are balanced and financial records are in compliance with various laws and regulations. They also manage tax returns for their companies.

Accountants must hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, and many choose to further their education with additional certifications and qualifications, such as the title of CPA (certified public accountant). CPAs are highly sought after by companies because they help prepare mandatory audited financial records to be sent to the Securities and Exchanges Commission and can represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

Median salary: $68,150 (bls.gov)

Skills recommended to succeed:

  • Keen analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Excellent time management
  • Proficiency with the latest accounting software

As demonstrated above, the financial industry provides a wide array of careers, with varying degrees of responsibility and income levels. Choosing the right career path can be a challenging but exciting exercise that takes into account one’s short-term and longer-term goals. However, they all begin with a bachelor’s degree in financial services. Careers in finance can be a rewarding choice for those who want to use their analytical skills to improve the financial health and performance of their clients and companies.

Now that you better understand potential financial services careers, discover the difference between a finance degree vs. accounting degree.

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/commercial-banker-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/investment-banker-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm

https://www.cfp.net/

http://www.finra.org/investors/brokers

https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Commercial_Banker/Salary/1f70d2b0/Entry-Level