Working in Finance: A Closer Look at 5 Financial Career Salaries
The world of finance is fast paced, flashy and full of exciting career paths. You’re intrigued by the prestigious field, but what kinds of finance job salaries can one expect? To put it simply, it depends on your job and your experience. With the right position, in the right organization, finance careers offer exciting pay potential, advancement opportunities and make for a great career choice.
Check out the following finance career salaries, roles and what to expect in the field. Who knows—you may just stumble upon the perfect financial fit for you.
5 Finance career salaries worth noting
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 wet your whistle and give you an idea of what’s out there.
1. Financial advisor
Projected employment growth (2014–2024): 30 percent
Median salary (2016): $90,5301
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.
Projected employment growth (2014–2024): 11 percent
Median salary (2016): $68,1501
Accountants examine financial records for organizations and individuals, ensuring that they are accurate, punctual and compliant with the law. Some accountants maintain financial records for companies, while others work with individual clients to file taxes.
Accountants can pursue a number of paths in the field. They can become certified public accountants (CPAs) or go into a number of specialties, such as auditing, forensic accounting or government accounting.
3. Financial analyst
Projected employment growth (2014–2024): 12 percent
Median salary (2016): $81,7601
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 assigned country or region.
4. Cost estimators
Projected employment growth (2014–2024): 9 percent
Median salary (2016): $61,7901
Cost estimators gather operational data to measure and analyze the resources needed for certain projects or services. They typically specialize in a certain industry, working to identify factors in cost and production. They examine processes to recommend ways to cut costs, reduce efforts and streamline processes.
Businesses rely on the guidance of cost estimators in order to operate efficiently. Some common industries they specialize in include construction and manufacturing.
5. Financial manager
Projected employment growth (2014–2024): 7 percent
Median salary (2016): $121,7501
Financial managers oversee the financial health of their respective company or organization. A financial manager often works as team lead with other finance professionals, overseeing the task of keeping their company in line with its goals. Meeting legal requirements, reducing costs and expansion opportunities are at the top of their to-do lists.
Landing a job as a financial manager won’t be easy, but it’s something you can strive for in your long-term career plans. They typically require at least five or more years of experience, and applicants must be on top of their game and highly motivated.
What kind of salary can I expect?
The financial careers listed above give you a snapshot at the array of salaries in the field. After all, you want to pursue something that will make it worth your while—and provide room for growth throughout a career, too. Now you may be wondering what salary you can expect when you enter the field.
We used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to examine more than 1.5 million finance job postings from the past year. The data revealed that the median salary in the field was $57,000. 2 But what kind of financial career salaries can you expect when you’re just starting out? For entry-level jobs requiring two years of experience or fewer, our analysis found the median annual salary was $49,000.3
What are some other perks of working in the finance field?
Whether it’s discounted products or extra vacation days, every job has its perks, and the finance industry is no different. To prove it, we asked some industry experts for their take on the benefits of working in finance. Here are a few of the positive aspects they’ve identified:
1. Helping people
For some roles in finance, one of the greatest perks is the ability to help people take charge of their finances so they can live the lives they envision for themselves.
“As a financial planner, I am able to help people achieve their goals; they save for houses, college, retirement and to leave a legacy. It is extremely rewarding to work in a field where you can make such a meaningful impact in a person’s life,” says Helen Bow, financial planner for Wells Fargo Advisors.
2. Room for specialization
Another benefit of the finance field is that you’re not strapped into one specific role. You certainly have options in terms of advancement and specialization.
“As the industry is so large, you have the option to be a jack-of-all-trades, or to focus on a particular area of interest. You’ll also have the flexibility to move around as your personal goals and interests develop over time,” says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at the personal finance website, Finder.
“The best part is that banking is in every country of the world, which means the opportunities to live and work anywhere are endless.”
3. It’s a fast-paced environment
You certainly won’t get bored in the world of finance. A constant stream of change will keep you on your toes and liven up your days.
“The world of finance, banking and business is constantly changing, making a role within it challenging and interesting,” McDermott says. “There will always be a new development, change or disruption, which is exciting and dynamic.”
4. Free food and first-class flights
Who doesn’t like free stuff? While this perk will obviously depend heavily on your role and your employer, it is a fact of life for some finance professionals. Deepak J. Chhugan, a former investment banking analyst, recalls several on-the-job perks, such as free food and transportation each night he worked late, and business and first-class flights when traveling for business and staying in nice hotels. He now helps people break into investment banking with his startup, The Lobby.
5. It’s practical
At the end of the day, working in finance is great because it gives you practical and applicable knowledge of so many aspects of the financial world—things that everyone comes in contact with.
“Working in this industry enables you to learn about financial products that may also affect you on a personal level—for example, loans, insurance and credit card rates. This can be especially useful when entering the sector at a young age, as what you’re learning is practical and relevant to the real world,” McDermott says.
Your next step
You’ve seen for yourself—with financial career salaries, prospects and pay potential—finance is definitely a field worth pursuing. But before jumping into a career that seemingly has it all, there’s only one piece you’re missing: your education.
All of the above careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, additional licensure. So why let that hold you back? Check out the Rasmussen College School of Business degree page to peruse degrees in finance, accounting and more.
Before you know it, you could be on your way to a coveted career with the opportunities, salary and perks you’ve always wanted.
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1Salary 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 and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 1,673,893 finance job postings, July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017).
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 396,695 finance job postings, July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017).
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in March 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2017.