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

If your leadership skills are as good as your mathematics, analytical and decision-making skills, you might be eyeing a career in financial management. Positions as financial managers come with prestige and a high salary, but they also require a lot of preparation. Aspiring financial managers should expect to earn college degrees at multiple levels of study, obtain licenses and certifications and spend years gaining experience before being promoted to management roles.

Bachelor’s Degrees and Beyond

A college education is essential for moving up into a high-level position such as financial manager. At the bachelor’s degree level, students can choose from a variety of possible degree programs in which to major. Finance, economics, business administration and accounting are all popular programs that prepare students for the challenges of not only working in the field of finance, but ultimately advancing in it. To earn a promotion into the role of financial manager, though, finance professionals must often hold an advanced degree, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Degree programs like a master’s in finance, master’s in economics, or master’s in business administration (MBA) further improve their skills in analyzing financial information and using different methods and software for the purpose of financial analysis.

Experience and Qualifications

As a management-level position, work as a financial manager of any type is not open to entry-level candidates. Most financial managers begin their careers in the field in positions such as accountants, auditors, financial analysts, loan officers or securities sales agents and remain in these roles for at least five years, learning the field of finance and proving their abilities. Licenses and professional certifications are required or recommended for some of these positions and can help aspiring financial managers illustrate their commitment to the field of finance and achieve their ascent up the corporate ladder.

Types of Financial Managers

There are several types of financial managers who specialize in different aspects of financial management, such as credit managers, cash managers, risk managers, insurance managers, treasurers and finance officers. Each manager oversees specific processes that range from credit-rating practices to hedging to protect against potential risks.

For business students who are specifically seeking a career with high earning potential, a position as a financial controller might be of particular interest. Financial controller is the number-one top paying job for students who decide to major in business, with experienced professionals earning a median annual salary of $82,000. Controllers work for organizations and prepare financial reports such as balance sheets, income statements, and predictions of future revenue and expenses based on analyses of the organizations current finances and on industry trends.

Though the path to becoming a financial manager is not quick or easy, the position can be rewarding financially and otherwise. If you’re willing to earn an advanced college degree and prove your skills over years of work in the field of finance, you may have what it takes to become a financial manager.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris