Choosing a career in finance can feel daunting – there are nearly endless areas of the finance industry, and it is an ever-growing field. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the financial and business operations field will add nearly 800,000 new jobs between 2020 to 2030.
So, where do you begin figuring out what jobs exist in the finance industry and which one is right for you? Well, we’ve compiled a list of 20 careers in finance, ranging from entry-level analyst positions to insurance sales and all the way up to chief financial officers. We’ve included salary data (sourced primarily from the labor bureau) and job descriptions to help you get a feel for what these roles look like and understand your options.
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There are financial careers in personal, corporate, or public sectors, but beyond those classifications, there are even more subcategories to consider:
Accounting and Tax Financial Careers
Accountants and Auditors
Average annual salary: $83,980
Accountants and auditors analyze their company’s finances and prepare financial documents. Within a financial organization, there may be specific titles such as junior accountant, senior accountant, auditor, and tax accountant.
- Junior accountants focus on balancing accounts and preparing reports. Senior accountants may need a master’s degree or a certified public accountant (CPA) license, and they assist in analyzing and maintaining the company’s financial health, in addition to being supervisors to junior accountants.
- Auditors are primarily in charge of tracking accounts and seeing that they are recorded accurately. An auditor must also prepare financial statements, such as balance sheets and audits, and ensure that all operations and documentation meet legal and financial regulatory standards.
- Tax accountants prepare client tax documents and ensure all tax filings follow local, state, and federal tax regulations. Preparing tax reports, solving issues and errors with filings, and finding areas where money can be (legally) saved are all duties of tax accountants.
Learn more about what an accountant does.
Financial Manager and Controller
Average salary: $153,460
Financial managers work in many different areas and industries, including investment firms, banks, and insurance companies. They primarily handle the creation of financial reports and the development of long-term financial plans for an organization.
Another type of financial manager is the financial controller or comptroller. Controllers are the highest ranked person on an accounting team, outside of the chief financial officer. The controller ensures that the company stays in good financial health and oversees the work the rest of the accounting team does.
Average salary: $103,020
Financial analysts interpret financial statements and forecast the company’s future financial performance. In addition, analysts compare current financial situations to the initial plans laid out by a financial manager or chief financial officer and assist in creating reports to help the company stay on track with its strategy based on market conditions.
Average salary: $84,240
A budget analyst, sometimes called a cost analyst, looks at the company’s budget and determines ways to make or keep the budget efficient. Budget analysts also help maintain records and decide if funds need to be allocated differently.
Chief Financial Officer
Average salary: $213,020
Chief financial officers (CFOs) are the top-ranked person in a company in regard to the organization’s finances. A CFO has two main roles: overseeing all financial activities within the company, as well as the accounting team members, and being an adviser to the other C-suite executives.
Advising Financial Careers
Average salary: $119,960
A financial adviser, also called a financial consultant or a financial planner, is a broad job title in personal, corporate, and public industries.
- Financial advisers help their clients understand what services and tools are available to manage and optimize their wealth. Advisers also advise on what decisions to make depending on the individual client’s goals and financial situation.
- Personal finance advisers do the same sort of work as any other financial adviser, just on a smaller scale. Their clients are people who want to learn how to manage their money better and who want advice on things like investing, college funds, taxes, or estate planning.
- Registered investment advisers (RIA) must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Investment advisers guide clients through the investment process by assessing the client’s needs and goals and analyzing the current market conditions.
- Chartered retirement planning counselors (CRPC) are financial planners or advisers who specialize in helping their clients plan for retirement. A CRPC is a certification and job title, and CRPCs work with clients to create a plan that meets their client’s lifestyle preferences and financial capabilities.
Average salary: $153,460
Like a financial manager who focuses on investments, portfolio managers work with clients to find the right investment opportunities and maintain a lucrative investment portfolio. Portfolio managers also guide their clients on investing and explain market conditions and economic trends that could affect their client’s investments.
Financial Technology (FinTech) Careers
Financial Software Developer
Average salary: $120,990
The primary role of financial software developers is designing, developing, and improving software used by the finance industry. Financial software developers work with financial and banking companies to create everything from educational tools to credit card software.
Some software developers specialize in certain areas, like blockchain. Blockchain developers work with various organizations to create programs that facilitate secure digital transactions and enable the safe storage of blockchain data. Blockchain developers also make applications and interfaces using blockchain technology to help keep their company’s data safe.
Average salary: $96,180
Compliance experts are sometimes called financial examiners or regulatory compliance specialists. While compliance experts work in many facets of the finance industry, they are crucial for FinTech, as digital transactions have strict regulations – compliance experts ensure everything complies with state, local, and federal laws, regulations, and policies.
Average salary: $108,660
Regardless of industry, the responsibilities of a data scientist include analyzing data sets to find meaningful insights and communicate their findings. For example, in the finance industry, data scientists play a crucial role in making predictions based on data, identifying trends, detecting fraud, and creating programs to help their company better serve its customers.
Average salary: $103,020
Quantitative analysts are financial analysts who use statistical techniques to solve risk management, valuation, market regulation, and trading problems. Additionally, quantitative analysts may develop tools that improve how companies create models and analyze strategies.
Average salary: $113,270
Cybersecurity specialists, or information security analysts, help ensure the systems these companies use are protected against malware, viruses, and hackers. FinTech is all about digital information, so cybersecurity specialists also focus on data encryption to make business customers feel safer using technology to access their financial information.
Investing Careers in Finance
Average salary: $103,020
Investment bankers typically begin their career as financial analysts, but there are specific roles investment bankers can take on:
- Investment bankers focus on raising capital for their clients by selling equity and issuing debt. Investment bankers also assist in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and create financial models to predict financial performance.
- Investment strategists analyze economic trends and give clients or portfolio managers insight on how to combat potential risks with strategic trading and asset allocation.
- Private equity associates are investment bankers with a bit more experience overseeing deals from sourcing to closing. Private equity associates focus on raising capital and acquiring, improving, and selling companies.
Stockbroker or Securities Trader
Average salary: $93,260
Stockbrokers act as a broker, or middle-man, for clients looking to buy and sell securities like stocks, bonds, or options. Sometimes, a stockbroker may also provide financial advice and investment management services.
A securities trader has a similar job as a stockbroker: find, buy, and sell securities. However, traders typically buy and sell securities using their own company’s assets. In addition, traders often work for large investment management firms or banks and make trades under the direction of a portfolio manager.
Average salary: $92,228 to $353,321 (estimates based on data from Salary.com and PayScale)
A venture capitalist (VC) sources investment opportunities for their clients by analyzing emerging businesses’ growth and risk potential. VCs receive equity in these early-stage companies in exchange for the capital they provide.
Risk Management Careers
Average salary: $79,940
Underwriters work in various financial industries but are typically involved in banking and insurance. Underwriters are responsible for determining the potential risk of a person applying for insurance or a loan and then deciding whether that person can be approved based on the risk assessment.
Insurance Broker, Agent, or Adviser
Average salary: $69,340
Insurance brokers or agents are salespeople who sell insurance products directly to consumers. Brokers typically sell products from a variety of insurance companies, while agents often work for one specific company. The products they sell include life insurance, personal auto insurance, and homeowners insurance.
A similar role to an insurance broker is an insurance adviser. These advisers often work as part of a larger financial planning team and help give insight on other financial products or services, like investments and estate planning.
Average salary: $70,960
After an incident, a claims adjuster will look at the details of an insurance claim and determine who is liable. Claims adjusters talk with the people involved in the claim, interview witnesses, and examine the damage, if necessary, to figure out who needs to pay and how much.
Average salary: $125,300
Actuaries use math, statistics, and theory to analyze risk-associated costs. Actuaries can sometimes be called actuarial analysts, and their analysis helps companies understand how potentially successful decisions can be and how unpredictable disasters would impact the business financially.
Financial Law Careers
Average salary: $148,030
Becoming a financial lawyer is the same as any other law career path. Lawyers can specialize in various financial aspects, such as tax law, trade finance, and debt finance. Additionally, many financial organizations hire general counsel for M&A or securities trading, and with the rise of FinTech, lawyers who understand cryptocurrency compliance law and virtual assets are in great demand.
Learn if finance is a good career path for you!
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