Finance is a popular career choice for college students, but is it a good fit for everyone?
In this article, we outline all you need to know to decide whether a career in finance is right for you.
- Finance jobs are available all of the time!
- Always evolving
- Finance is a stable career path with good job security
- You can earn a lot of money in finance!
- What should I major in at college to pursue a career in finance?
- What universities are best known for careers in finance?
- Job advancement
- Finance can be stressful and demanding, so it's not for everyone
Finance jobs are available all of the time!
The job market in finance is strong, and many opportunities are available to those interested in the sector throughout all economic cycles.
Those who understand the nuances of financial analysis and decision making can find positions within fintechs, banking, investments, insurance, public accounting, and more.
With each field, comes different skill sets to be honed and diverse challenges that each have their own rewards. With such varied options, it’s easy for individuals to find a career within finance that suits their needs.
Between AI and other technological advances, most menial jobs in finance have been replaced by technology. The higher level jobs, on the other hand, are getting enhanced by new technologies every day, so if you go into finance prepare to be a life-long learner because you will alway be learning how to use new technologies to give you an edge in your role.
Here are some of the other things that make finance a good career for those who embrace change:
- Regulatory — There’s ongoing regulatory changes that impact most finance roles. So part of your job will be staying abreast of these regulatory changes.
- New Trends — There is always a new trend in the world of finance. For example, the most recent trends have been fueled by the rise of cryptocurrency, algorithmic trading, and machine learning. The trends constantly disrupt the finance industry and provide financial professionals with an array of opportunities.
- Economic Cycles — Professionals who work in finance will need to constantly adjust to the cyclical patterns of economic growth and contraction, often characterized by booms and busts.
- Security — With the industry’s shift towards digitization and automation, there is a heightened need for enhanced security and for cybersecurity professionals in the finance industry.
Individuals looking to enter this lucrative industry should keep an eye out for new opportunities as they arise; it just might be their way into their desired career path.
Finance is a stable career path with good job security
Even with all of the changes afoot in finance, it is still an evergreen career path that may be a great option for those looking for long-term job stability and security.
Employers are always seeking out talented individuals with experience in the financial sector because it’s essential to managing their cash-flow, investments and other financial needs.
Those interested in finance can pursue many different pathways: they might decide to focus on analytics, investment analysis, accounting, banking, corporate finance, and more.
Established financial firms employ people at all levels of experience and expertise, making it easier to land on a secure position where you can grow your career.
If you’re considering steady employment with good benefits and potential for advancement, the world of finance may have the perfect fit for you!
You can earn a lot of money in finance!
If you’re considering a career in finance, you will be happy to know that there are many highly compensated roles within the industry and the financial sector loves to reward successful professionals with bonuses and other perks.
The richest people in the finance sector have made their money through a variety of means. Some are CEOs and founders of banks and financial institutions, while others are hedge fund managers, private equity investors, or venture capitalists.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in business and finance are projected to increase by 7 percent from 2021-2031, above the average growth rate for all occupations in America during this time period!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics further reported that in 2021, personal financial advisors and financial analysts earned a median salary of nearly $95,000 annually — far exceeding the median annual wage across all occupations nationally.
Here are some popular finance jobs, their average salaries and what these financial occupations entail:
- Investment Banker (Average Salary – $288,000) — Investment bankers typically provide advice to clients on financial and investment matters, such as mergers and acquisitions, underwriting services, private equity investments, and corporate reorganizations. They may also evaluate potential investments, develop models for valuing businesses, and oversee large-scale trading operations. Investment bankers often work alongside other professionals in a team environment to create financial strategies for their clients.
- Investment Manager (Average Salary – $113,000) — Investment managers are responsible for managing investment portfolios in order to maximize returns. This includes conducting research, studying financial markets, analyzing risk and developing strategies for investing funds. Investment managers typically work with multiple clients in order to meet their objectives, such as creating a portfolio that will produce consistent returns over the long term or meeting certain financial goals within a specific time frame. In addition, investment managers must stay up to date on changes in the industry and make sure that their clients’ investments are properly diversified and managed.
- Certified Financial Planner (Average Salary – $72,000) — Certified financial planners (CFPs) provide comprehensive financial planning services to individuals and small businesses. They help clients assess their current financial standing, identify their long-term goals, and develop plans to achieve those objectives. CFPs also guide their clients in all aspects of personal finance, including budgeting, saving, investing, taxes, estate planning, insurance, and debt management. Additionally, they often act as a fiduciary for their clients, meaning that they are legally required to put their clients’ interests above their own.
- Chief Financial Officer (Average Salary – $76,000) — Chief financial officers (CFOs) are responsible for managing the financial activities of an organization. They oversee budgeting, accounting, financial statements, financial reporting and analysis, tax compliance, and risk management. CFOs develop strategies to grow the organization’s revenue and profitability, evaluate investment opportunities, and identify cost-saving measures. Additionally, CFOs are frequently involved in strategic planning for an organization, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
- Hedge Fund Manager (Average Salary – $136,000) — Hedge fund managers are responsible for making investment decisions on behalf of the hedge fund they manage. They develop and implement strategies to generate returns and minimize risk, analyze financial markets and securities to identify potential investments, conduct research on economic trends and sectors, regularly monitor the performance of existing investments, and make changes as needed. Additionally, Hedge fund managers are responsible for raising capital from investors and reporting investment results to them.
- Portfolio Manager (Average Salary – $168,000) — Portfolio managers are responsible for selecting investments and managing portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments in line with the goals and risk tolerance set by their clients. They research market trends, analyze financial statements and other data to identify opportunities for investing, recommend investment strategies to clients, purchase or sell securities on behalf of their clients, monitor the performance of investments over time to determine whether adjustments are needed, provide financial advice to clients as necessary, and report back to them on the state of their portfolio.
- Financial Analyst (Average Salary – $75,000) — Financial analysts typically analyze data related to the financial markets in order to assess the performance of companies and their stock prices. They will use research, analysis, and modeling techniques to make predictions about future trends and generate investment recommendations. Financial Analysts also develop financial models to measure risk and evaluate portfolios, as well as provide insight into the current state of a company’s finances.
- Trader (Average Salary – $93,000) — Traders in the finance sector specialize in buying and selling financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, and derivatives. They execute trades on behalf of their clients or employers to generate profits while managing risk. Their duties include analyzing market data to identify trading opportunities, executing trades quickly and efficiently, monitoring changes in the markets, developing risk management strategies to protect against losses, and providing timely updates on investments.
- Technology and Cybersecurity Professional (Average Salary – $98,000) –– Technology and cybersecurity professionals in the finance sector are responsible for analyzing and mitigating security risks related to financial data and systems. They develop strategies and solutions to protect against cyber-attacks, implement new technologies to increase security capabilities, monitor networks for suspicious activity, diagnose system issues, identify areas of vulnerability, recommend appropriate measures to strengthen defenses, and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, they may provide guidance to colleagues on best practices when it comes to technology and cyber security.
- Data Scientist (Average Salary – $125.000) — Data scientists in the financial sector use their expertise in data analysis and programming to identify trends, uncover relationships, and solve problems related to investments. They analyze large sets of data using techniques such as regression analysis and machine learning to predict and forecast financial performance. They also use data visualization tools to create interactive dashboards that help visualize complex patterns in data. Additionally, they collaborate with finance professionals to develop models that measure risk and optimize portfolios.
- Compliance Professionals (Average Salary – $73.000) — Compliance professionals in the finance sector help ensure that financial institutions abide by applicable rules and regulations. They monitor the markets and financial activities of companies to identify any discrepancies or violations, investigate complaints, provide guidance on regulatory issues, and recommend corrective actions when necessary. Additionally, they develop policies and procedures that must be followed by all employees, serve as representatives of the firm during external audits or reviews, and provide training to new staff regarding regulatory standards.
- Venture Capitalists (Average Salary – $310,000) — Venture capitalists generally look to invest in companies that have the potential for rapid growth and high returns. They assess various opportunities, perform due diligence on prospective investments, provide advice and guidance to entrepreneurs, negotiate deals, and manage portfolios. They also scout out innovative new ideas and technologies, providing incubation services such as funding and mentoring. Ultimately, venture capitalists seek to achieve financial returns from the success of their investments.
What should I major in at college to pursue a career in finance?
To pursue a career in finance, you should consider majoring in accounting, economics, business administration, finance, or mathematics. A degree in any of these fields will give you the foundational knowledge needed to go into the finance field.
In today’s landscape, many students who are considering finance should consider dual majors or a strong minor like computer science (because finance is increasingly becoming technology dependent), data science (because data is everything), or English (because writing will still be an important part of any career in finance).
Additionally, you may also wish to consider taking classes related to investments, taxes, and financial law.
Here are some of the popular majors that will help you start a career in finance:
- Accounting — Accounting majors typically study topics such as financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, and corporate finance. They learn to develop financial strategies and use various software programs to analyze data related to the field. Through their coursework, they also focus on developing critical thinking skills that are necessary for successful decision-making in the financial services industry.
- Economics — Economics majors typically study the interconnectedness of markets, households, and firms. They learn about how the global economy works and how to analyze data related to economic trends. Typical courses in an economics major include microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, international economics, public policy, and money and banking. They also focus on developing analytical skills that are necessary for successful decision-making in business or government.
- Business Administration — Business administration majors typically study topics related to management, marketing, accounting, and economics. They learn about how businesses operate in the marketplace and use various software programs to analyze data related to their studies. Through their coursework, they also focus on developing critical thinking skills that are necessary for successful decision-making within a business or organization.
- Finance — Finance majors typically study topics related to financial markets, investments, and risk management. They learn about economic models and theories that can help them analyze data related to the stock market, portfolio evaluation, and bond yields. They also focus on developing analytical skills that are necessary for understanding the financial markets and making well-informed decisions when it comes to money management.
- Mathematics — Mathematics majors typically study topics related to calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and numerical analysis. They learn about various mathematical techniques that can be used for problem solving and conducting data-driven research. Through their coursework, they also focus on developing analytical and critical thinking skills that are necessary for understanding complex concepts and discovering meaningful patterns in data, which is extremely important in the field of finance.
What universities are best known for careers in finance?
While top jobs in finance may require a master’s degree, most finance jobs can be had with just a bachelor’s degree.
The most competitive colleges for finance professionals include Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, New York University, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UPenn. These universities have renowned finance, economics, and math programs making them strategic recruitment schools for the finance industry.
In addition to the ultra-competitive universities, there are numerous colleges offering high quality finance degree programs. Throughout the United States, there are many colleges that have robust finance programs. For example, Binghamton University and Baruch College have gained reputations as hotspots for producing Wall Street professionals. And both are affordably priced public universities, making them a good choice for students seeking a strong return on investment!
Not only does a finance degree provide significant financial rewards, but it also provides stability and avenues for career advancement. In fact, many of the big players in finance have in-house training and ongoing continuing education along your career path.
It is not uncommon for graduating college students to start their finance career at an in-house training program at large institutions. Some even have rotating training programs where they rotate between different departments before they lock in on their career path.
Fintechs, who typically hire away seasoned professionals away from bigger financial institutions, also invest in employee training programs and like to promote from within.
Finance can be stressful and demanding, so it’s not for everyone
In order to succeed in finance, one must be focused, have great math skills, and be able to handle stress.
Finance requires focus
Finance requires an intense amount of dedication, focus, and perseverance. You must be a great problem solver and have a knack for details if you want to receive success in the field of finance.
Finance requires strong math skills
Additionally, you will need a good understanding of mathematics and its related principles. This can be daunting for some who don’t feel they have those skills or strengths, yet it’s important to recognize that those skills can be gained over time. If these qualities already live within you, finance could be the perfect career choice for you!
Finance jobs are stressful
Lastly, business and finance jobs are among the most stressful careers to pursue. Financial planners and portfolio managers are investing other people’s money and are accountable to them. People rely on the views of financial analysts, and when they are wrong, money is lost and they can lose their job. If you have a low-stress tolerance, a finance career is not for you.
There are lots of rewarding finance careers. Whether you choose investment banking, financial planning, or money management, there are lots of high-paying finance jobs.
If you choose a finance career as your career path, be sure to have strong math skills, great focus, and the ability to deal with the stress that comes with finance jobs.