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Finance is a popular university major because it can lead to an exciting and lucrative career in a number of different types of jobs. Finance majors learn banking, economics, and financial markets, in addition to general business studies. They can also learn communications and psychology, as many careers in finance include a sales component, which makes these skills very important.
As a finance major, you can expect to take courses in micro and macroeconomics, accounting, calculus, and statistics. You can also take more specific courses on topics such as finance case studies, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, econometrics, investment, and international banking. Marketing and management courses may also be required.
Once you have that finance degree under your belt, it’s time to get out there and find a job. Here are some entry-level jobs your finance degree can qualify you for.
Financial analysts help individuals and businesses make financial decisions in pursuit of increased profits. They can do this by collecting and organizing data, analyzing historical results, generating financial models, and making recommendations and forecasts. Financial analysts can work at investment banks, financial planning firms, private equity firms, or corporations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected growth rate for financial analyst jobs is average, and is expected to be 6% between 2020 and 2030. In May 2021, the median annual salary was $81,410 for a financial analyst, but entry-level positions would probably pay less.
investment banking analyst
Investment banks help their commercial clients raise capital and evaluate investment opportunities. Investment banking analysts review and analyze data, generate reports, and make recommendations and presentations.
Investment banking analyst is an entry-level job that can lead to a career as an investment banker. Investment bankers work with companies and organizations to help them raise capital, often with an initial public offering, which is when a company issues shares for the first time, or through mergers or acquisitions of other companies. Investment bankers use their background in finance to model complex financial scenarios to analyze investment opportunities for their clients, but they must also have the ability to negotiate and close deals.
The career outlook and median salary of an investment banking analyst is similar to that of a financial analyst, as Bureau of Labor Statistics data does not distinguish between the two positions.
Accountant or Auditor
An accountant prepares financial records for individuals and businesses, and an auditor reviews them. These can include income statements, balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, profit and loss statements and more.
The median annual salary for an accountant or auditor in 2021 was $77,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for accountants is expected to increase by 7% between 2020 and 2030, which is average for all occupations.
To advance in an accounting or auditing career, you can become a Certified Public Accountant, a title that requires you to have work experience at a major auditing firm and pass an exam.
Personal Financial Advisor
A personal financial advisor helps individuals manage their money and plan long-term financial goals. They can help plan a child’s education, for example, or plan a comfortable retirement.
Personal financial advisers may charge a fee for their services or earn a commission on the investment and protection products they sell, such as stocks, bonds and insurance. They may work for a company that has other finance professionals and administrative staff, or they may have their own firm.
Personal financial advisers who wish to sell securities and insurance will need to be licensed to do so. The Series 7 Securities License, issued by FINRA, which requires you to pass an exam, is required to sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds. For advisors who also want to sell insurance and annuities, state-specific insurance licenses are also required.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for personal financial advisors is expected to grow somewhat slower than average, with 5% growth projected from 2020 to 2030. The median salary for a personal financial advisor was $94,170 in 2021, although junior advisors will earn less.
An actuary analyzes the economic impact of uncertainty and risk. Actuaries are employed by insurance companies to help them determine how much to charge for their policies, based on the likelihood of claims.
An actuary can earn associate certification from the Society of Actuaries by taking several specific courses and passing a comprehensive exam. Other credentials actuaries can earn include Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst and Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.
The median annual salary for an actuary in 2021 was $105,900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Starting salaries for entry-level actuaries will obviously be lower. The field is growing and is expected to grow by 24% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than average.
Trader in securities or commodities
A securities trader or commodities trader buys and sells stocks, bonds and mutual funds – in the case of a securities trader – or commodities – in the case of a raw materials.
Securities traders seek out stocks of individual companies, corporate and municipal bonds, and mutual funds, and buy or sell them based on how the trader determines they will perform in the future . They determine the risk associated with buying, holding or selling a given position and act accordingly. A securities trader must have a Series 7 license, administered by FINRA.
Commodity traders do the same, but for commodities like wheat, soybeans, gold, and pork belly. Commodity traders often trade “futures”, which are contracts that give an investor the right to buy or sell a set amount of that commodity at a future date. This involves a careful assessment of the expected performance of the product up to that date. A commodity trader must have a Series 3 license, administered by FINRA, and be licensed by the National Futures Association.
The median annual salary for traders in securities or commodities in 2021 was $62,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The expected growth for this position is a little slower than average and is expected to be around 4% from 2020 to 2030. An entry-level position as a securities or commodities trader can often lead to higher positions in brokerage firms or investment banks.
A career in finance can be rewarding, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Finding the perfect entry-level job to start your career path is the first step.
Finance Jobs FAQ
- What is a good first job in finance?
- If you have a degree in finance, there are plenty of jobs to choose from right out of college. If you want to work with companies to issue stock or acquire other companies, consider an investment banking analyst position. If you want to crunch numbers all day, you might consider becoming an accountant or actuary. If you prefer to help people invest their money and plan for a comfortable retirement, you could be a financial planner or personal financial advisor.
- How to enter the finance sector without experience?
- There are many entry-level positions in finance, and many finance companies will hire recent college graduates who don’t have industry experience. Be prepared, however, to study for and pass a licensing exam, in the case of securities or commodities trading, to work toward certification, such as a Certified Financial Planner, and to learn on the job.
- How to start a career in finance?
- For most careers in finance, you should have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in finance, but other business disciplines can work as well. You can then research companies likely to hire for entry-level financial positions, such as investment banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses, or financial planning firms. You may need certifications for some entry-level positions, but you must first get hired, as most certifications require you to be sponsored by an employer in order to pass the appropriate test.
- How can I work in finance without a finance degree?
- Some companies in the finance industry will hire people without a finance degree, but it helps if your degree is in another business discipline, like accounting or economics, or a data-intensive discipline like math. Most entry-level finance jobs require significant on-the-job training, so it’s often possible to get the job without a finance degree.
Information is accurate as of August 18, 2022.
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