Careers in Finance (With Types, Requirements and Job Roles)
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Finance is the process of individuals and companies managing their money and investments while determining how they can make money. This responsibility is something companies in almost any industry need and an area that can benefit all individuals. Learning about careers in finance can help you determine if a job in private, corporate or public finance is the right job path for you. In this article, we discuss the different types of career paths and look at the primary duties and salaries of nine possible finance roles.
Related: Choosing a Career Path in 11 Steps
What are the types of careers in finance?
There are several fields with careers in finance you can consider depending on your education and qualifications. Professionals in these categories share similar skills and have at least a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field. Here are several subfields of finance to consider for your career:
Portfolio management is the selection and trading of a company's or individual's stock portfolio. Depending on their client's goals, professionals in this field buy and sell different investments. Portfolio managers may specialise in a specific type of asset trading or stock type. The four portfolio management types are:
Active portfolio management
Passive portfolio management
Discretionary portfolio management
Non-discretionary portfolio management
Investment banking is the financial service a bank or other private company offers businesses or wealthy individuals to help them make financial decisions that can increase their value. This includes advising companies on big decisions like mergers or acquisitions. Some careers in investment banking include underwriters, mergers and acquisitions bankers, private equity jobs and venture capital specialists.
Economic analysis is the branch of finance that analyses market trends and large economic systems, usually in a specific industry. These are highly analytical jobs that require professionals to work with large amounts of data. Typically, banks and other money management firms employ economic analysis professionals, including economists, analysts and strategists.
Corporate finance is how corporations or businesses manage their money, from budgeting and bookkeeping to investments and structuring their capital. Many big companies in different industries have a finance department that oversees their financial operations. Careers in corporate finance include finance managers, account managers and risk managers.
Trading is the buying and selling of stocks. Trading professionals may work independently or for financial institutions like investment banks or asset management firms. Traders work in markets and buy stocks and other investment opportunities at the best prices as they work to increase their clients' capital.
Financial analysis is the evaluation of a business or project's performance. Similar to economic analysts, financial analysts observe and analyse data, but they focus on specific institutions and their financial standing in a market. They typically work for banks or other financial institutions to set budgets. Jobs in the financial analysis field include financial analysts, investment analysts and budget analysts.
Related: What Is a Financial Controller?
Education requirements for finance careers
Almost any career path in finance requires a bachelor's degree. While you can consider a degree specifically in finance, you can also explore degrees in a related field, such as business administration, accounting or economics. Finance programmes provide students with a comprehensive understanding of financial management, including relevant technical knowledge, interpersonal skills and professional insight. While a master's degree may not be a requirement, many finance professionals choose to obtain graduate degrees to better position themselves in the job market. Besides formal degrees, there are several professional certifications available in finance:
Master's degrees in financial fields
The following graduate degrees include financial, management and business fields:
Master of Science in finance
International Master of Finance
MSc in data management
MSc in finance and investment
Elite Master of Finance
MSc in business administration
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Besides formal degrees, finance professionals may consider certifications in certain areas. Some certifications available in for finance professionals and accountants include:
Corporate Finance Certificate (CFC)
Charted Financial Analyst (CFA)
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
9 common careers in finance
There are many options for career paths in the finance field that can align with your interests, core values and offer a competitive salary. Here are the top nine career opportunities in the financial sector to get you started in your search, including both entry-level jobs and options for seasoned professionals:
Average salary: $14,136 per month
Primary duties: Accounting clerks record and analyse financial data, often in corporate finance. They work with clients to manage their accounts payable and accounts receivable records, manage balance sheets and use accounting software to ensure accurate record keeping. Often, accounting clerks ensure they have the proper controls in place for compliance and accurate reporting. Accounting clerks typically report to accounting managers. Account clerks require a strong attention to detail, familiarity with technology and problem-solving skills.
Average salary: $15,145 per month
Primary duties: Companies sometimes have problems recouping loans from borrowers who cannot pay them in a timely manner. Collection agents specialise in finding loan repayments for corporations. Collection agents may meet with clients and help them restructure their debt to ensure repayment of a loan. This may mean, for example, that the individual or institution can pay off a loan in monthly instalments.
3. Loan officer
Average salary: $15,938 per month
Primary duties: Loan officers consult with bank customers to understand their financial needs and recommend the right loan products. They help customers navigate the bank's lending guidelines. Commercial banks can vary in size, from local institutions to international entities, and offer a variety of financial services, including loans, IRAs and savings and checking accounts. It's possible to be promoted from a position such as a loan officer at a local branch to corporate headquarters.
Average salary: $17,970 per month
Primary duties: Finance offers help clients with basic finance and administrative tasks. Often part of a finance team in corporate finance, they set budgets, manage records and reconcile transactions. If working in a specific industry, finance officers develop a thorough knowledge of the company and industry standards in order to provide recommendations and support.
Average salary: $20,647 per month
Primary duties: Financial planners help individual clients plan for their present and future financial stability. They develop savings and investment plans that fit the client's needs, income and goals. Most people in this field either work for locally based firms or larger, nation-wide institutions. Financial planners may receive commissions based on the products they sell or receive a percentage of the assets they manage, while others charge a flat fee.
Average salary: $19,291 per month
Primary duties: Many CPAs help individuals and businesses track their finances, prepare their income tax returns and provide consulting services related to finances and taxes. CPAs typically start as staff accountants and work their way up through the ranks of other roles, including audit manager and tax manager. With time and hard work, CPAs may make partners at their firm.
Average salary: $27,779 per month
Primary duties: Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in making investments in bonds, stocks or other kinds of investment opportunities. They help organisational leaders make investment decisions on behalf of the organisation. This job often involves working with a variety of senior leaders, writing reports and giving presentations. Financial analysts can work across a broad range of institutions.
Average salary: $36,738 per month
Primary duties: Finance managers are intermediaries between an organisation and the market where they operate. They oversee a company's investments to ensure the maximum return and increase of capital. These professionals evaluate a business's performance and portfolio and analyse how well they perform in their industry.
Average salary: $83,209 per month
Primary duties: Investment bankers issue and trade corporate securities and provide financial advice to investors and corporations. Investment banks have several divisions, each with different responsibilities and objectives. In investment brokerages and investment firms, bankers interact with a trading desk, which trades bonds, stocks and other securities in the secondary market. They could also work with issuers of securities or acquisitions and mergers professionals.
Is finance a good career?
Overall, finance is a good career for professionals interested in business. Salaries can be higher than average. Some roles, like accounting clerks or collections agents, can advance in their careers to managerial, directorial and executive roles. Other professionals can find roles in banks, at investment firms or even work independently at their own private firms. Finance careers can benefit professionals interested in specific industries, too. As most large corporations across industries have dedicated finance departments, finance professionals can specialise in a specific area, further providing career opportunities in the future.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.