What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Financial Analyst?

If your interest in a career in the field of business is based at least partly on the high salary potential, financial analyst could be the right position for you. This career is a good choice if you’re good at:

  • analyzing financial information
  • making decisions
  • math

To embark on this profitable career, you will need a college education and a license. Advancing to the more financially rewarding senior-level positions can require additional study, experience, and examinations.

An Education in Finance

The first step toward achieving your career goal of becoming a financial analyst is getting a college education. At a minimum, most prospective employers will look for a bachelor’s degree. Though your intended career is in finance, you can also choose to pursue several related major programs of study, like:

  • economics
  • statistics
  • accounting
  • mathematics

Some financial analysts even approach the career field with a background in engineering. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), a few of the concepts that are most important for financial analysts to understand are:

  • risk management
  • options pricing
  • bond valuation

Licensing and Certification for Financial Analysts

Many positions financial analyst positions require that professionals obtain licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This is usually done after you have been hired for a job, with the company acting as an employer sponsor. Though not required, certifications such as the Chartered Financial Analyst certification by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute can improve a financial analyst’s job prospects. It can help with  career advancement. Certifications such as this often require a certain number of years of experience as well as passing scores on examinations.

Advancement in the Field of Finance

If it’s a lucrative salary you’re looking for, you may find it necessary to move up the career ladder into high-level positions that pay a higher salary. Senior financial analyst is among the top paying jobs for those who decide to major in business. Experienced professionals earn a median salary of $77,000 per year. Becoming a senior financial analyst often requires more than just extensive experience. You may also need an advanced degree, like a master’s degree in finance or a master’s in business administration.

The field of finance offers great earning potential if you’re comfortable understanding investment trends and advising other individuals or businesses on how to manage their money. However, to become a financial analyst, you must first be willing to invest in yourself by earning your degree and pursuing the path to licensure with the help of your employer. Advancement in the field is often contingent on earning a master’s degree as well as cultivating work experience. If you want to enter high-level positions such as senior financial analyst, you should plan on completing graduate-level studies at some point in your career.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief