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 for individuals who are as good at analyzing financial information and making decisions as they are at math. To embark on this profitable career, you will need a college education and a license. Advancing to senior-level positions, which are more financially rewarding, 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 and mathematics. Some financial analysts even approach the career field with a background in engineering. A few of the concepts that are most important for financial analysts to understand are risk management, options pricing and bond valuation, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Licensing and Certification for Financial Analysts

Many positions as financial analysts require that professionals obtain licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This is usually done after the candidate has 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 and opportunities for 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 perks like a lucrative salary are the reason you wish to pursue a career in finance, 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 students who decide to major in business, with experienced professionals earning a median salary of $77,000 per year. Becoming a senior financial analyst often requires more than just extensive experience. It may also necessitate an advanced degree, like a master’s degree in finance or a master’s in business administration, or MBA, degree.

The field of finance offers great earning potential for those who are 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. Because advancement in the field is often contingent on earning a master’s degree as well as cultivating work experience, candidates who seek to enter high-level positions such as senior financial analyst should expect to complete graduate-level studies at some point in time during their careers.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris