Career Advice

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Finance Professional?

The financial sector offers a wide range of occupations. Because of this, beginning a career in this area offers a variety of options. A career in finance may suit you if you enjoy dealing with money and wish to help others accumulate riches. In this post, we address some frequently asked questions about the position as well as the possible career paths for finance professionals.

The definition of a finance professional

Anybody who deals with money is often referred to as a finance professional. Within the subject of finance, there are numerous employment options, and a lot of them can be filled by finance professionals. Financial advisors frequently assist their clients in managing their finances and assets, whether they are businesses or individuals.

What advantages do financial professionals enjoy?

Depending on their particular position, finance professionals may be eligible for a variety of benefits. An accountant, for instance, might receive different perks than a stockbroker. Finance professionals typically profit from the following things:

  • High possibility for income
  • Several possible job paths
  • Job stability
  • Growth potential
  • Regular work schedules
  • Powerful compensation packages

What various categories of finance professionals exist?

There are various categories of finance professionals, such as:


The management of financial records is something that accountants assist both individuals and businesses with. This typically includes helping customers complete their tax forms accurately, lowering their tax liabilities, tracking their earnings and expenses, and helping them in the preparation of financial reports or reports. While some accountants manage a single, significant customer, others manage several clients as part of their practice.

Financial planners

A financial planner assists clients with their unique financial goals. For instance, they might work with their customers to develop a strategy for debt repayment, retirement savings, or the beginning of a child’s college fund. Financial planners assess the present financial status of their clients before making recommendations or laying out a thorough strategy for them to follow. If the customer so desires, the financial planner might offer them continuing guidance and profitability reporting to hasten their goal-achieving process.

Financial Advisor

An investment manager is a person who guides clients toward wise investing decisions. Investment advisers concentrate on more specialized investment prospects, but some financial advisers may guide how to save or invest money for the future. Retirement accounts, equities, bonds, and real estate are a few examples of investment options. The client’s opportunity of interest may be examined by the investment advisor, or they may be advised to consider other opportunities. They often serve wealthy clients who have the financial means to pay a portion of their assets as advisor fees.


A stockbroker is a specialist who conducts trades on the share market on behalf of their customers. Even though some stockbrokers might offer assistance to their customers, their main goal is to complete the deals. Many stockbrokers are employed by brokerages, where they could manage transactions for several different people or businesses. Because of the parallels between the two occupations, many stockbrokers go on to become financial advisors and may fill both positions.

Debt counselor

A debt counselor assists clients in budgeting their debt. Their customers can need assistance in coming up with a repayment strategy if they have debts like credit card debt, college loans, or debt from medical costs. The debt counselor can discuss choices with their customers, including debt consolidation, and assists them in developing a reasonable budget. A debt counselor may occasionally work with a client’s creditors to establish a debt management strategy that requires that the customer pays the counselor a specific amount every month, and the counselor then distributes the money to the creditors.


Some attorneys are also finance professionals, depending on their field of practice. An attorney with experience in the financial industry can assist clients with tasks including purchasing a home, drafting a will, developing an estate plan, or settling a divorce. Every one of these scenarios includes a client’s finances, thus the client might benefit from hiring a lawyer with experience in the financial industry.

How does one become a finance professional?

The particular position you desire will determine your route to a career as a finance professional. A distinct path is taken by someone who wants to be a debt counselor versus somebody who wants to become a lawyer. But the majority of finance professionals can start by obtaining a relevant bachelor’s degree. Usually, they choose to major in finance, business, or accounting to get this degree.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, some positions could require further training or qualifications. As an illustration, accountants who want to be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must finish additional courses and pass a state licensing exam. A finance master’s degree might be necessary for other employment.

What skills are necessary for a finance professional?

The following are some abilities that finance professionals frequently use:


Math is a common tool used by all finance professionals. They carry out activities like making budgets, estimating property values, and completing tax paperwork. Finance professionals are skilled in doing numerous calculations correctly and using the appropriate arithmetic operations. Finance professionals can use tools like spreadsheets and calculators in addition to performing calculations in their brains in some circumstances.

Observation of details

Due to the importance of authenticity in their reports and recommendations, finance professionals pay close attention to every detail. Before presenting their work to oversight bodies or their clients, they review it to look for errors. Additionally, because their consumers frequently depend on their financial counsel, finance professionals must provide reliable and comprehensive information.


Numerous finance professionals frequently communicate with their clientele. Understanding their clients’ goals or being able to explain complex financial concepts to them might be crucial abilities when accomplishing this. Decisions should be explained in detail, both orally and in writing. Finance professionals use their communication abilities to make sure the customer always knows what they are doing and that they are aware of what the customer wants.

Guidelines for Becoming a finance professional

  • Get a bachelor’s degree. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, finance, or a related field is the initial step toward a profession in financial management. An average bachelor’s degree takes four years and 120 credits to complete. A bachelor’s degree may accept transfer credits from an associate degree.
  • Acquire a job as an intern. Internships are frequently a part of bachelor’s degree courses, which assist students to gain professional experience and improve their employability.
  • Consider getting your master’s or getting certified professionally. A financial manager’s profession may be boosted by advanced degrees and job experience. The competitive edge that a master’s degree or certificate can provide for professionals
  • Grow your professional experience. For a position as a finance manager, the majority of employers want a minimum of five years in the appropriate field. A lot of financial managers start as loan servicers, accountants, or stock sales representatives.

Finance Professional Education and Experience Requirements

An undergraduate degree in an industry-related subject is typically required for financial managers. The normal length of a bachelor’s degree is four years, with 120 credits. Risk management, investments, and financial accounting are all covered in the courses. Electives allow students to pursue interests such as business, analytics, and policy planning.

Students may choose from a variety of tests if they choose to pursue certification. Popular degrees include those for the chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified management accountant (CMA), and certified government financial manager (CGFM). Many certifications demand a bachelor’s degree from applicants.

Additional education may be advantageous for financial managers. 1-2 years of full-time study are typically required for master’s in finance programs, which have 30-60 credits. 30 credits are needed to finish graduate certificate programs, which last around a year. Incorporated finance and money planning certificate courses are available for aspiring professionals.

Qualifications needed for finance professionals

Financial managers are not required to have a license. A professional’s resume can benefit from voluntary credentials, which also make them stand out to potential employers. The terms certified public accountant (CPA), CMA, and CFA are among the certifications that differ by industry.

Exams for Certification

If you aren’t pursuing an MBA or majoring in economics in college, you might want to think about preparing for the Series 7 and Series 63 tests or joining the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program. Remember that you will need an endorsement from a FINRA member company or regulatory body to take the Series 7 test.

To avoid redundant assessment of knowledge when completing examinations to register in different categories and to simplify the process to enter the financial business, FINRA introduced a new exam in October 2018 titled the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) examination.

The Series 7 and Series 63 tests are additional means to show a fundamental understanding of investing vocabulary and accounting procedures while the CFA exam is more technical. Start with the SIE and progress from there to the CFA examination if you find a sample CFA examination to be intimidating, or start interviewing for junior analyst employment after completing the SIE. Many organizations also provide training courses for applicants with promise in the profession.

Certificates and degrees that are optional

Industry-specific certification preferences exist. The CFA credential, for instance, is appropriate for financial analyst positions. A CGFM qualification is available to finance professionals working for the local, state, or federal governments.

Finance professionals in numerous business sectors gain from earning the Association for Finance Professionals’ certifications in treasury management and corporate personal finance. A lot of finance managers also obtain their CPA licenses.

Each certification has different criteria for education and job experience. Numerous well-known qualifications necessitate ongoing study and re-certification regularly.

Experience Needed to Be a finance professional

Professional experience is a key component of a successful profession in financial planning. Internships are common in graduate schools. Aspiring finance professionals might look for internships by themselves if their school doesn’t offer them. Internships are available in financial institutions, investment and management firms, and other businesses involved in the financial sector.

Professionals can network in the business and gain knowledge from senior financial management through internships. When recruiting a finance professional, most firms aim for a minimum of five years of expertise.

Should I Pursue a Career as a finance professional?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the profession of finance management will experience a 17% job growth between 2020 and 2030. A profession in financial management may include high prospective pay as well as benefits like bonuses.

Good leadership, logical thinking, and analytical abilities are needed in this cutthroat industry. A finance professional’s performance also depends on their ability to network and communicate.

Sometimes working long hours is necessary for financial management specialists. These experts need to stay current on emerging trends, the economic situation, and methods for risk management.

Professionals who don’t function well under pressure may choose to look into positions in smaller businesses because job hours and responsibilities vary.

The Job Search

It necessitates effort and time to look for a job as a finance professional. Utilizing the resources at hand can hasten the process. For example, your internship mentor can give you details about positions that are currently open.

A great resource for locating employment after graduation is contacts made at networking events. You can meet people in your profession by networking on websites like LinkedIn, conferences, and career fairs.

Many individuals begin their job hunt online. The four most well-known job boards are as follows:

  • Glassdoor: Glassdoor offers details on businesses, including size, pay, and benefits. Users have access to reviews left by both former and present employees. On the website, there is a job board with available vacancies.
  • Indeed: Through Indeed, job seekers looking for finance management employment can submit their resumes, apply for openings, and receive information on nearby openings. The website also provides tips on how to write resumes and cover letters.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is an excellent resource for career prospects in addition to networking. Candidates can apply for jobs, get in touch with recruiters and job boards, and discover more about employers via their LinkedIn profiles.
  • Internet search: Job seekers can locate open openings by typing specific terms into Google, such as “financial advisor opportunities in Manhattan” or “available accountant jobs near me.” Google searches online job boards and displays a list of open positions that match the keyword search.

Upward Movement

The career of a finance professional has room for development. A finance professional may eventually advance to the position of chief financial officer (CFO). The next section discusses the main variations between these two roles:

A finance professional is in charge of daily financial management. The CFO of a corporation oversees the whole finance division and answers the chief executive officer.

The capacity to oversee operations and set financial rules for the entire organization, as well as strong strategic managerial skills, are requirements for CFOs.

According to the BLS, the median annual income for senior executives, including CFOs, was $185,950 in 2020. The median yearly income for finance professionals during that time was $134,180.

Analyst Position Types

Financial analysis is a vast field with many different job descriptions and career options. There are three main types of analysts working in the financial/investment sector:

  • Buy-side companies (investment firms that look after their own money)
  • Sell-side companies
  • Investment firms

Additionally, finance professionals may work with neighborhood and local banks, insurance providers, brokerages for property investments, and other data-driven businesses. The potential usefulness of a financial analyst may be seen in any company that routinely takes important financial choices.

Purchase-Side Analysts

The buy-side is where most finance professionals are employed. They assist their employers in making financial decisions, whether it be purchasing income buildings (when it comes to a property investment company), putting money into stocks and other assets for an internal fund, or allocating marketing funds. Some analysts work for an organization that offers financial research to its clients rather than a particular employer. This demonstrates the importance of what financial analysts do because a whole industry has developed around it.

Financial analysts on the buy-side infrequently make the final decision over how their companies or customers spend their money. The patterns they identify and the predictions they make, however, are extremely helpful in the decision-making procedure. The demand for qualified buy-side financial experts will only grow in the future given that regulatory settings are changing almost every day and that global financial markets are evolving more quickly than ever.

Sale-Side Analysts

In a sell-side company, analysts assess and contrast the quality of the securities in a specific area or industry. They then prepare research reports with specific recommendations, like “purchase,” “sale,” “great buy,” “strong sell,” or “hold,” based on their findings. They also keep track of the stocks that make up a fund’s holdings to decide when/if the fund should sell its holdings in those particular stocks. The opinions of these research firms are highly regarded throughout the investment community, notably by those who work for buy-side businesses.

A sell-side analyst position at a major investment bank is arguably the most prominent (and well-paid) financial analyst position. These analysts assist banks in setting the prices for the market distribution of their financial products. To predict how the bank’s bonds and stocks will do on the market, they gather data on these instruments and do quantitative research. They give clients of the bank purchase and sell recommendations study based on the findings, directing them to invest in particular assets from the bank’s product menu.

Analysts who concentrate on equities or fixed-income products are two examples of subspecialties that exist even within certain specialties. Many analysts additionally develop their specializations within a given area or industry. For instance, an analyst might focus on energy or technology.

Equity analysts and investment banking

The feasibility of certain business transactions, like initial public offerings (IPOs), acquisitions, and mergers (M&A), is frequently assessed by analysts in investment banking firms using corporate fundamentals. To determine how feasible a particular merger is acceptable for that investment bank’s customer, analysts evaluate the present financial conditions and extensively rely on forecasting and modeling. They also advise clients on the decision to invest venture money in businesses.

Equity analysts are those who work with large banks to make purchase and sell judgments and who look for favorable IPO chances. They assist in identifying businesses that offer the most lucrative chances for ownership, with an emphasis on equity markets. The highest-paid individuals in the financial analysis industry are typically equities analysts. Their companies play a role in this as well; major investment banks pay top talent enormous fees to get the best employees.

A lot of large sums of money are dealt with by equity analysts. When they correctly forecast something, their employer frequently makes millions of dollars. As a result, equities analysts receive generous pay.

The Average Salary Is Not Poor

In the banking industry, financial analysts typically earn much less than other occupations, especially in New York City. The average yearly salary for a full-time pay or salaried worker in the United States as a whole is considerably lower than the typical yearly income for an entry-level financial consultant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median weekly salary for any full-time pay or salary employee in the U.S. in 2021 was $1,010. This amounts to a yearly salary of about $52,520 for a 40-hour work week.

In contrast, the median annual wage for financial analysts with all levels of experience in 2021 was $81,410 (or $39.14 per hour).

Financial experts typically start much higher compensation than the average worker. Additionally, even in their first year, financial experts at the major Wall Street firms frequently earn far more.


Preparation and diligence are necessary for a job as a finance professional. Additionally, it can bring actual joy that comes from contributing to the company environment, in addition to cash incentives.

Frequently Asked Questions on finance professionals

  • What type of degree is required to work as a financial professional?

To get a career in the business world, financial managers must have at minimum a bachelor’s degree in that field. Gaining a postgraduate diploma or a master’s degree can increase employment.

  • What additional qualifications are needed to work as a financial professional?

Financial managers require abilities in data processing, management, reasoning, and bookkeeping in addition to academic degrees. They may seek a graduate degree after receiving a bachelor’s, as well as optional certificates or licenses.

  • How much time does it take to become a financial professional?

A bachelor’s degree should be obtained, which normally takes four years, for prospective financial managers. To be eligible for financial management positions, professionals must have five years of relevant work experience.

  • Is there a demand for financial professionals?

From 2020 to 2030, the BLS predicts a 17% increase in employment for financial managers. This rate is higher than the overall national average, which is 8%.

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