Finance Degree Jobs & Careers

Career Paths & Salaries for Students & Graduates

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One of the most appealing features of earning a degree in finance is its flexibility and usefulness in the competitive job market. When you think of finance-related careers and successful professionals in the field, the cliche “they must be good with numbers” comes to mind. While that is true, finance professionals also have other valuable skills that translate to a number of career options. From budget analysts and insurance underwriters to entrepreneurs and real estate agents, the skills you obtain from a finance degree are useful and in-demand across many industries.

If you’re considering a career in finance, this guide can help you navigate prospective career paths. It also includes advice from Professor Alexander Lowry, a modern educator and professional in the finance field, on career moves, first steps into the field, standing out in the job market, and getting the most out of your finance degree.

How to Use Your Finance Degree

The skills you acquire in a finance graduate program are transferable across many fields and careers. While certain aspects of your coursework will focus specifically on the essential financial knowledge for a career in that area, colleges and universities know that a well-rounded, technology- and communication-focused curriculum will help students succeed post-graduation, in virtually any field. Aside from some of the more obvious topics you will study, such as statistical analysis and working with Microsoft Excel, here is a list of some widely applicable skills students acquire in a finance program.

Many degree programs offer courses designed to teach students time management, project planning and leadership skills through a series of case studies and hands-on assignments. In some cases, degree seekers assist real companies with their day-to-day operations and work directly with team managers to develop project management skills that can be used in real world scenarios.

By using financial management software such as RightCapital, eMoney Advisor and MoneyGuidePro, students in finance programs learn how to manage and utilize historical data and trends for investment purposes, retirement plans, project funding and portfolio management.

Professionals working in finance fields must accurately and clearly communicate information with their clients, employers or employees. Finance students obtain the necessary written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking and presentation skills, to deliver their message with clarity and confidence.

Networking has always been an essential component in the business and finance world. Today’s finance professionals must take advantage of social media and other networking tools to stay connected and up-to-date with other professionals in the fields. In most curricula, students can absorb networking and related skills through courses on leadership, management, and marketing. Additionally, working closely with colleagues and attending social functions and conferences is also important “training” in networking..

Finance majors develop problem-solving skills to handle stressful situations. From complex client relationships to handling others’ sensitive financial information, every business interaction presents a new challenge. You will develop ways to complete tasks to the fullest of your abilities and negotiate tough situations even while under pressure.

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Career Paths & Salary Potential

As mentioned, a finance degree can prepare you for a wide range of careers, directly in the finance industry as well as elsewhere. You can find the right job in a variety of ways. In addition to using your school’s job search resources, attending job fairs and checking with trusted individuals in your network for tips on open positions, conduct some online research of your own. Websites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale can help you track down careers that fit your background, qualifications, and personal interests. The list below can be a starting point for graduates with a finance degree and explores both traditional and non-traditional career paths.

6 Traditional Careers

CareerDegree LevelAnnual Median Salary
1. Budget AnalystBachelor’s$75,240
2. AuditorBachelor’s$69,350
3. Financial ExaminerBachelor’s$81,690
4. Personal Financial AdvisorBachelor’s $90,640
5. Loan OfficerBachelor’s$64,660
6. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales AgentBachelor’s$63,780
6 Traditional Careers

6 Non-Traditional Careers

CareerDegree LevelAnnual Median Salary
1. Real Estate AgentBachelor’s $47,880
2. TeacherBachelor’s$59,170
3. Data AnalystBachelor’s$58,488
4. Business Development ManagerBachelor’s$70,855
5. Vendor ManagerBachelor’s$74,442
6. EntrepreneurBachelor’s$60,000
6 Non-Traditional Careers

Professional Resources for Finance Majors

  • American Finance Association:
    This is an academically-driven association that helps support and disseminate scholarly writing about financial economics. Students and graduates in finance can take advantage of the journal publication and annual conferences.
  • Association for Financial Professionals:
    This professional community offers online publications, access to research and data reports, job searches, and career training tools. Professionals can join AFP for full access to these resources and take advantage of networking opportunities at annual conferences and roundtables.
  • Kaplan Financial:
    Kaplan offers a helpful website with job exploration tools and entry-level advice for incoming and new professionals. The site also includes professional development resources and interview training.
  • OneWire:
    This site provides a space for finance professionals to interact, search, and apply for jobs as well as stay up to date on industry news. Members can interact directly through the site for real-time collaborations and community building.
  • Wall Street Oasis:
    This online financial community supplies a useful collection of articles, finance discussion forms, job and internship search tools, and professional development resources. Professionals will find this finance career-centered site to be a refreshing and entertaining career preparedness and information bureau.

Interview with a Finance Graduate

Alexandar Lowry

Executive Director, M.S. in Financial Analysis Program


Professor Gordon College

Why did you decide to earn a finance degree?

I had a desire to work on Wall Street. Ever since I saw the 1987 Charlie Sheen movie with that name, I thought it would be an exciting place to work.

How did you get your current job?

Gordon College needed someone with a Wall Street pedigree to run their Master’s in Financial Analysis program. My J.P. Morgan track record, combined with my Wharton MBA in Finance, was a perfect match.

How does your finance degree help you in your current job? What about in past jobs?

I know the lingo and customs of Wall Street. That’s essential to attract students to the master’s program as well as build relationships with finance firms to recruit our students. In previous jobs, it was my Wharton MBA in finance that opened the door for me to work at J.P. Morgan.

Aside from a finance degree, what does one need to excel in the finance industry?

Networking is essential! It’s not just what you know, but also whom you know. In addition to face-to-face networking over the years, I actively use LinkedIn today to stay in touch and let people know what I’m working on.

Who is the ideal person for a finance degree and career?

The ideal person must have quantitative ability and a strong EQ, or emotional quotient, to be able to interact with clients and colleagues. In other words, professionals in finance must have an understanding of human emotions, conflicts, empathy and communication.

Famous People Who Studied Finance

  • Christine A. Poon Former Vice Chairman of Johnson & Johnson, Former Ohio State Dean

  • Ellen Alemany Former CEO/Chairman of RBS Citizens Financial Group

  • Kevin Costner Actor

  • Mark Shuttleworth CEO of Canonical Ltd.

  • Catherine A. Lesjak Catherine A. Lesjak

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