The finance department at any enterprise is a diverse hub made up of some of the most well-remunerated and exciting job roles in modern business. There are many routes to gaining the knowledge and training needed to take up a position in finance, but you will generally be required to complete a bachelor’s degree in subjects such as finance, business, and economics. It is possible to focus on a niche or specified area such as risk management and taxes, but adopting a generalist outlook to your education may be the best bet if you want to keep several avenues open after you have completed your studies. Some major corporations often require further education at graduate level, so you may also have to pursue an MBA program.
Traditional education roadmap
Financial managers earn an average salary of $115,320 per year, according to recent figures. This job role requires professionals to develop and manage the financial goals of a businesses, and can encompass a range of job roles and duties within an office setting. Like many jobs in the finance sector, such as auditors, bookkeepers, tax specialists, ledger clerks, finance controllers, and procurement managers, it generally requires an extensive traditional education. Employers always look for a basic minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but you should also take courses in areas such as basic keyboarding and spreadsheets as entering data and improving your computer skills can give you the edge when looking for a job. Also try to develop soft skills such as personal communication as employers look favorably on workplace etiquette and proper grammar. Once you have graduated, you can then work towards a master’s degree in finance, which covers subjects such as corporate financial management.
Internships are the gateway to full-time employment as real-world experience is just as important as knowledge gained in the classroom. Attending a school with links to financial enterprises is crucial as you will have a better chance to put what you have learned into practice and gain insight from leading mentors in the field of finance. A recent study shows that almost two-thirds of college graduates participating in paid internships get a job offer afterwards and earn a higher salary than entry-level job applicants. Paid interns are often engaged in “real” professional duties rather than non-essential work such as filing data. Interns should aim to work for between 200 and 400 hours, as this will provide the experience that employers are looking for. A selection of big financial firms offer internships, including Bank of America, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.
Accounting is one of the many subjects that can be studied via online schools. These are an increasingly popular option for students due to their flexible nature, which allows prospective employees to build an academic schedule around their current day-to-day life. Before enrolling for any finance course, make sure to evaluate all the schools and programs available to you so that you get the highest-quality education possible. Ideally, you should opt for a degree program that has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and is on the list approved by the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Your degree will be accepted by financial institutions and employers if it is recognized by either the AACSB or CHEA as this seal of quality means that the curricula, professors, resources, and other aspects of the course meet certain quality standards. It is recommended to also select a course where the professors have job experience as audit managers, CPAs, CFOs, etc., as they will offer more practical knowledge, so look out for this when signing up. The school should also provide access to financial software such as QuickBooks Pro and Sage 50. Earning a master’s in accounting online is arguably the quickest and most intuitive means to getting the qualifications that you need to get ahead in the world of finance as you won’t have the upheaval of physically moving to a college or university.
Financial advisors will be able to apply for certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) after three years of work experience. Meanwhile, accountants can focus on credentials such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to continue on a positive career trajectory after a formal education. You will be required to complete specialized coursework, training, and exams during this period. You may also need to acquire licensing in order to specialize in a particular area of business in a state.
An internship is the best route to a permanent role, but it is also possible to secure an entry-level job once you have graduated. The financial sector is often deemed to have a high barrier to entry in regards to education and experience, but taking the necessary steps to create an excellent resume and improving your networking skills across social and online platforms could net you a dream financial role in a business department.