Finance often gets flack for being one of the less-adventurous fields out there. It evokes images of pocket-protector-clad computer geeks crunching numbers and creating flow charts. Sure, it may not be as action-packed as firefighting or as life-changing as working in surgery, but with the right position, in the right organization, finance careers do offer the potential for high salaries and quick career advancement.
Check out the job opportunities, salaries and perks highlighted below to decide if this field is for you.
What are my options?
First, you likely want to know what you can actually do with a finance degree. There are many career options available, so we’ve highlighted just a few to whet your whistle and give you an idea of what’s out there.
- Projected growth (2012-2022): 27 percent
- Median salary: $67,520*
Financial advisors are the people-persons of the finance world. Advisors build relationships, working with individual clients and families to help them make wise tax, insurance and investment decisions.
Some advisors go on to become certified financial planners (CFPs) to set themselves apart from other advisors with a nationally recognized designation. Advisors can constantly move themselves up the ladder with designations and continued education which opens the door to higher levels of compensation.
If the idea of being self-employed, creating your own practice and controlling how you are compensated sounds exciting, this is a great career to consider.
- Projected growth (2012-2022): 16 percent
- Median salary: $76,950
Financial analysts are the economic examiners of the industry. Analysts are always in the know, and become experts in identifying economic, political and business trends and how these trends will affect their respective company’s investments.
An analyst may specialize in an industry, such as energy, or a country or region, such as the Middle East. They’re expected to learn the ins and outs of the business environment, culture and political conditions of their country or region.
As an analyst you should be ready to specialize and become an expert in an industry or region. Though no doubt challenging, the reward of being regarded as a genius in your field makes this career path a great option for the success-driven, analytical mind.
- Projected growth (2012-2022): 9 percent
- Median salary: $109,740
Financial managers are like the money doctors of the industry, managing the financial health of their respective company or organization. A financial manager often works as team lead with other financial professionals, overseeing the task of keeping his or her company in line with its goals. Meeting legal requirements, reducing costs and expansion opportunities are at the top of their to-do list.
Landing a job as a financial manager won’t be easy. You’ll face competition for this prestigious position, but the salary should be plenty of motivation.
What kind of salary can I expect?
If you’re looking to make a nice salary and be able to pay off loans and prepare for retirement, don’t count out a finance career. The median salaries mentioned above are indeed median, which means that half of the salaries reported are below those numbers, but half are above them!
Like many fields, the earnings potential in finance is largely dependent on how hard you work during the day and how many hours you want to sleep at night! That is particulary true for positions in which you create your own client base.
In finance, you get to take hold of the proverbial horns and, with hard work and motivation, steer your career toward the success you seek.
What are the perks?
Whether it’s discounted products or extra vacation days, every job has its perks, and the financial industry is no different. To prove it, we asked some industry experts for their take on the benefits of working in finance.
1. Unlimited earning potential
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: In this industry, your salary is largely in your control. Though it may start slow for some, what you earn in this career is a lot about how much work you put in at the beginning. Hang in there and after just a few years you’ll reap significant rewards, says CFP Sean McComber of Key Financial Group.
2. A balanced lifestyle
Maybe you don’t have a family yet or don’t plan to, but there will always be non-work activities that still need attention. For many finance professionals, creating their own schedule has allowed them to fit work around the rest of their lives without sacrificing their job security or salary.
“The best part of this industry is that you can get that work/life balance,” says CFP Michael Solari of Solari Financial. “I can choose what type of clients I want to advise and I am able to work my schedule around my family.”
3. You get to help others
It’s no secret that careers and experiences in which we help others also help us. We feel better about ourselves and fulfilled in our work.
“It feels great at the end of the day to know that every thought and action that day, whether it panned out or not, was targeted at helping people make better financial decisions and achieve their lifelong goals,” McComber says.
Your next step
You’ve seen for yourself—with the job prospects, perks and pay—finance is definitely a field worth pursuing. But before jumping into the job that has it all, there’s only one piece you’re missing: the degree.
All of the above careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, additional licensure. So why wait? That finance degree isn't going to earn itself. Learn more about your options by checking out Rasmussen College's School of Business.
Before you know it, you could be on your way to a coveted career with the opportunities, salary and perks you’ve always wanted. But remember: You’ve got to start somewhere.
*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook, www.bls.gov/ooh/
Note: BLS salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.