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The Personal and Professional Power of a Financial Career

Many people decide to pursue a profession in finance because the job outlook for this career path is typically quite healthy. High-ranking financial professionals can often make a good living and find work in their general area of expertise. Businesses and individuals rely on financial professionals to help them make wise decisions in regard to their corporate and household finances. One of the most appealing aspects of finance jobs is that there are so many different areas that individuals can choose to pursue.

Most jobs with finance degree requirements fall under three main categories:

  • Corporate
  • Personal
  • Public finance

Some individuals may be able to find low-level finance jobs and work their way up to the top over time. However, those who receive proper education and/or certification may have a better chance of securing high-ranking finance careers more quickly. Due to the constant demand for financial professionals in the business industry, the job outlook is typically good for financial managers, analysts, planners and executives.

Education Requirements for Careers in Finance

Some finance jobs only require a bachelor’s degree or certification, but many require advanced degrees. Those who wish to pursue high-paying finance careers may want to start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree program, some students may decide to pursue a master’s degree in finance or a master’s degree in business administration with a financial focus. Although both of these degrees are similar, they do have some differences.

A master’s degree in finance provides focused, specialized training in financial matters. This degree helps prepare students for very specific careers in the finance industry. A master’s degree in business administration (Master of Business Administration – MBA) with a financial focus is broader. It is designed to teach students the background information and skills they will need for a wide variety of business positions. Students who receive their MBA with a focus in finance may choose to pursue finance-related positions or other high-level business positions that are not directly related to finance.

Some finance careers require certification through specialized organizations responsible for ensuring financial excellence and regulatory adherence in certain fields. Some careers that require certification include securities traders, stock brokers and Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). Organizations that grant certificates for these careers include the North American Securities Administrators Association, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Those who wish to begin a career in finance may want to join one or more professional networking organizations that offer continued learning opportunities. Two possible choices include the Association for Financial Professionals and The American Bankers Association. Joining finance-related organizations is not typically a requirement for finance careers but can make a resume look more appealing.

What Career Options Are Available in Financial Fields?

Students who wish to become financial professionals should try to zone in on their preferred area of finance. Some popular focus areas include investment banking, real estate, commercial banking, money managing, financial planning, commercial lending, private equity, insurance, sales and trading. Many of these jobs in finance can be pursued with just a bachelor’s degree.

There are many opportunities to move upward in finance careers. Those who start as junior executives or assistants may be able to work their way upwards to senior positions in their field. Graduates who obtain master’s degrees in business administration with a financial focus are more likely to obtain upward mobility in their career choice.

Doctorate degrees in finance are also available for students who want to enter the field of academia. These degrees focus on applied research, studies, and in-depth coverage of financial methods and technologies. Students who successfully complete doctorate degrees in finance will be more prepared for careers in publishing, academic assisting and research.

According to the 2014-2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for financial analysts through the year 2022 is at 16 percent. This is above average for all occupations, but may not accurately reflect short-term economic conditions or local job growth factors.

What do Finance Workers Do?

Finance workers have a wide variety of professional responsibilities, depending on their specific areas of focus. Finance-related occupations are generally divided into three broad categories that have specific functions:

  • Careers in personal finance typically involve helping families and individuals make decisions about their education, insurance, spending habits, investing and retirement goals.
  • Those who pursue public finance occupations are often responsible for planning and managing the financial dealings of government agencies and public entities. Available areas of focus include investment banking, actuary (insurance), financial planning, real estate, money management and corporate finance.
  • Corporate finance is focused on providing corporate funds and directing business spending. Finance managers are typically responsible for reviewing company reports, balancing profitability and risk, forecasting economic trends, managing funds and maximizing stock value.

Those who would like to pursue finance jobs may apply for bachelor’s and doctorate programs. The education and experience gleaned through these programs is invaluable for preparing students to pursue careers in the three main areas of finance.