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Is Finance a Good Career Path?

Is finance a good career path

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A finance career can be personally and financially rewarding. It can also require long hours and high stress. We spoke to industry experts to determine: Is finance a good career path? The short answer: Yes, if you’re looking for a high-paying position with a certain level of job stability — and you genuinely enjoy the technical aspects of your role.

Is a Finance Career Path Right for You?

A finance career path might be right for you if you enjoy working with numbers and helping individuals and institutions reach big goals. However, the finance industry is quite competitive, and entry-level employees, in particular, tend to work long hours in high-stress environments. So whether finance is a good career path for you ultimately depends on how much you enjoy the work and how well you prioritize your work-life balance.

What Areas of Finance Can You Work In? 

Within the field of finance, you can work in public, personal, or corporate finance roles or in broader financial services careers, like insurance and real estate. 

Public Finance

Public finance is another name for government finance. In public finance roles, you’d work for a local, state, or federal government, handling things like taxes, budgets, spending, and fiscal policy. 


PwC Tax

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Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

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Personal Finance

Personal finance encompasses activities related to individuals’ spending. Some professionals in personal finance work in retail banking, helping customers open checking accounts, secure personal loans, and find credit card options. Another job in personal finance is a personal finance advisor — they can work independently or for a larger institution and work with clients to meet specific financial goals, like saving for retirement or building a college tuition fund for their kids. 

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Citi Personal Banking

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Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

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Corporate Finance

The clients in corporate finance are businesses. Issuing stocks, navigating complex mergers and acquisitions (M&As), and bringing companies from private to public through initial public offering (IPO) are common tasks corporate finance professionals handle. However, corporate finance can also mean those working in finance at a corporation. For instance, financial managers, chief financial officers, and accountants may work in corporate finance managing the finances of a large company. 

J.P.Morgan bank corporation headquarters glass building concept. JP Morgan banking company symbol on front facade 3d illustration.

JPMorgan Global Finance and Business Management

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Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

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Financial Services

Financial services is a broad term that covers any company or activity that deals with money. Insurance companies, mortgage lenders, real estate developers, hedge funds, and commercial banks are examples of the myriad areas you can work in financial services. 

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Citi Finance

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Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Data analysis, fact finding, communication, presentation, judgment, commercial awareness

Types of Careers in Finance

A variety of careers in finance are available. Utilizing data primarily from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, here are the key facets of popular roles:

Accountants and Auditors 

  • Category: Corporate and public finance
  • Median annual salary: $78,000
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 4%

Accountants and auditors help companies and individuals keep their financial records in order. Day-to-day duties include balancing company budgets, preparing and reviewing financial statements, filing corporate tax returns, and evaluating the risk associated with prospective company endeavors. 

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KPMG Career Catalyst: Tax

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Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

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Financial Examiner

  • Category: Corporate finance
  • Median annual salary: $82,210 
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 20%

Financial examiners ensure that banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions are in compliance with the federal and state laws that apply to them. They perform risk assessments and recommend corrective action if they determine an institution is violating any new and existing regulations.  

Insurance Sales Agent

  • Category: Financial services — Insurance
  • Median annual salary: $57,860
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 8%

Insurance agents sell insurance policies to new and existing customers. They help applicants determine the amount of coverage they might need before the application heads to underwriting. Insurance agents might work directly for an insurance carrier or they might work for a broker.  

NYC AIG office, working at AIG

AIG Underwriting

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Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

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Financial Analyst

  • Category: Corporate finance
  • Average annual salary: $96,220 
  • Project growth rate (2022-2032): 8%

Financial analysts perform in depth research to help businesses make complex finance decisions. Investment bankers, a common type of financial analyst, help their clients raise money and conduct large financial transactions, like facilitating a merger and acquisition or an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Clients include big companies, governments, and individuals.

>>MORE: Learn if investment banking is a good career path

Working at Bank of America

Bank of America Investment Banking

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Financial Manager

  • Category: Corporate and personal finance
  • Median annual salary: $139,790 
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 16%

Financial managers are in charge of teams of finance professionals and help clients and companies navigate financial situations and meet goals. There are many different types of financial managers. For instance, investment managers create, monitor, update, and optimize their clients’ financial portfolios. Learn whether investment management is a good career path.  

J.P.Morgan bank corporation headquarters glass building concept. JP Morgan banking company symbol on front facade 3d illustration.

JPMorgan Asset Management

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Avg. Time: 6 to 7 hours

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Loan Officer

  • Category: Financial services — Commercial banking and real estate
  • Median annual salary: $65,740
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 3%

Loan officers are responsible for underwriting various types of financing (mortgages, auto loans, or personal loans) for their respective employers — that is, they review applicants’ financial statements, credit histories, and more to determine whether and how much money a financial institution should lend them. 

Personal Financial Adviser

  • Category: Personal finance
  • Median annual salary: $95,390
  • Projected growth rate (2022-2032): 13% 

Personal financial advisers, or financial planners, help individuals manage their financial portfolios and achieve important financial goals. For instance, they might advise a client on how to save for retirement. Financial planners may operate their own practice or work in-house for a large company. 

>>MORE: Learn about some of the most popular careers in finance.

Find Your Career Fit

Learn what career is right for you with our free career quiz.

Entry-Level Finance Jobs

Entry-level finance jobs include positions that handle administrative tasks in areas like client accounts and industry regulations, says Kimberly Foss, founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, California. In addition, some employers in the finance sector hire administrative assistants to organize workflows, manage calendars, and even help with client communications and relations. According to the BLS, median salaries and projected employment growth for other entry-level finance jobs are:

Median annual salaryProjected Growth Rate (2022-2032)
Bank teller$36,380-15%
Budget analyst$82,2603%
Insurance underwriter$76,230-2%
Management Analyst$95,29010%

How Much Do Finance Career Paths Pay?

Some finance career paths are extremely lucrative. For instance, the median pay for a personal financial adviser is $95,390, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Overall, the median pay for business and financial occupations is $76,850, which is significantly above the median annual pay for all occupations ($46,310). Moreover, many of the top-paying finance jobs, including chief executives and financial managers, make well over six figures.

The industry is also growing, offering a certain level of job stability to people who pursue this career path. The BLS expects the number of business and financial jobs in the U.S., such as insurance underwriter and loan officer, to add around 911,400 new jobs each year between  2022 and 2032.

Working at JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Investment Banking

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Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

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Expert Advice: Pros and Cons of Finance Career Paths

Before you jump into a career in finance, it’s helpful to explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of working in this field. These are some of the top pros and cons of finance jobs from finance professionals across the industry.

Pros of Finance Career Paths

  • Good compensation, including benefits and bonuses
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Job stability

Finance careers generally pay well and include attractive benefits and bonuses. In addition, a job in finance frequently offers diversity in your day-to-day duties.

Pursuing a finance career path can also give someone a sense of accomplishment. For nearly two decades, Foss has reaped personal and financial rewards as a certified financial planner. She previously worked at a large brokerage firm.

“My deepest sense of satisfaction comes when these two priorities intersect—when doing really excellent work for a client enables me to further establish and solidify my professional reputation and independence,” Foss says.

Working in finance also presents opportunities to move up the career ladder or into different segments of the sector. Foss’s experience shifting from a big brokerage firm to her own financial planning firm demonstrates this ability to switch gears.

“I moved into the independent advising part of the industry because I believed — as I still do — that this was the best way to provide the kind of client-focused service that people need,” she says.

Certified financial planner Josh Hargrove, a financial adviser with Insight Wealth Partners in Plano, Texas, emphasizes that a career in finance (depending on the type of job, of course) can make “a direct, positive impact on people’s lives.”

Another reason finance is a good career path? Many employers are looking for workers with finance experience, so people in the industry don’t have to worry as much about finding or keeping a job.

“Finance positions are considered critical organizational functions and a profit center within organizations, not simply for Wall Street investment firms,” says Lyle Solomon, principal attorney at Oak View Law Group, a Silicon Valley law firm whose primary practice areas are bankruptcy and debt settlement. “Working in a high-demand business allows you to experience something that everyone desires — stability.”

>>MORE: Explore the top investment banking companies in 2024.

Cons of Finance Career Paths

  • Barriers to entry
  • Long working hours
  • High-stress environments

Hargrove points out that it can be challenging to gain a foothold in the finance industry, particularly if you’re trying to build a base of clients.

He also notes that it can be hard to make a career move in the industry, as some employers require employees to sign non-compete agreements, Hargrove says.

Meanwhile, Solomon cites education requirements as one of the possible downsides of a career in finance. Many occupations in the finance sector require certain levels of schooling, which can be financially challenging for some students.

For Foss, one of the drawbacks of a finance career is working in a sector that can be rocked by stock market turbulence.

“Because people’s money is closely tied to their sense of security, market downturns generate a lot of anxiety and, sometimes, emotionally-driven decisions by clients that are not in their best interests,” she says. “Working with people to help them remain calm and to make informed decisions is a big part of the job, but it is also sometimes the most difficult.”

Furthermore, many people in finance work incredibly long hours and cope with tremendous stress.

“During certain times of the year, a financial career may have tight deadlines, demanding clients, and an overabundance of work,” Solomon says. “It may be difficult for you to acclimate to this industry at first, but it does get easier after you’ve learned how to deal with pressure.”

Explore what it’s like to work in finance for top companies with Forage’s free finance job simulations.

Which Career in Finance Is Right for Me? Quiz

Take our quiz to figure out which career in finance could be right for you based on your interests and preferences. It’s completely free – you’ll just need to sign up to get your results.

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Do I need a specific major or degree for a career in finance?

Many finance careers require a degree in finance or a related field, like accounting, economics, business, or math.

What’s the highest-paying finance job?

The highest-paying finance jobs are generally chief executives (CEOs and CFOs), who make around $246,440 a year. Financial managers average around $166,050 per year.

Is it hard to get a finance job?

Finance jobs tend to be competitive, and it can be difficult to land an entry-level position without work experience. Completing internships, job simulations, and real-world projects can help you stand out from the crowd.

John Egan is a freelance writer and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. His

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