How to Become a Financier

Many public financiers make significantly more than the U.S. median salary. Learn more about starting a career in public financial management.

portrait of Thomas Broderick
by Thomas Broderick

Published August 26, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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How to Become a Financier
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Financiers perform many important financial roles for their company or organization, including managing money, coordinating work between upper management and the accounting department, and reviewing domestic and international financial statements. Their decisions promote their employer's long-term growth.

Professionals interested in this career need at least a bachelor's degree in a business-related field. Workers can become more competitive in the job market by gaining relevant experience or earning a master's degree. Successful public financiers can benefit from transferable skills, such as analytical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership.

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What Does a Financier Do?

Professionals ready for a career change should research the public financier profession before deciding. The field features different specializations, such as wealth management and economic analysis. Workers may specialize by earning a master's degree or gaining relevant experience.

A master's degree qualifies graduates to pursue a management-level position, such as senior financial analyst. These private and public financiers analyze data and use their findings to propose solutions for their employers or clients. Other responsibilities include managing teams.

Financier Responsibilities

  • Act as a point of contact between an organization's upper management and workers in the accounting department.
  • Make recommendations promoting an organization's short- and long-term growth.
  • Take continuing education classes to keep up with the latest private or public financial management trends and best practices.
  • Analyze the latest market developments using software and other tools.
  • Find and correct errors in financial statements and other documents.

Financier Specializations

Public Financier

Public financiers help governments make sound financial decisions. Typical responsibilities include researching government intervention strategies and proposing recommendations to elected officeholders. Their work helps a government body maintain economic efficiency.

Public financiers can improve their resumes with many years of experience in a related field, such as accounting or law.

International Financier

Multinational corporations hire international finance experts to expand their brand into new territories. These professionals use their knowledge of many countries' currencies and laws to negotiate contracts. Other responsibilities include researching foreign exchange markets and news impacting international business.

Aspiring international finance workers can specialize by taking graduate-level classes in international financial management and financial theory and policy.

Finance Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

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What Are the Steps to Become a Financier?

Becoming a private or public financier requires a mix of education and experience. Individuals earn a bachelor's in business or finance before applying to entry-level positions. A master's degree provides many advantages, such as specializing or learning online.

Learning does not end with a master's degree. Dedicated professionals with domestic or international finance careers take continuing education classes to improve their skills.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Business or Finance

An online finance degree takes four years for full-time students to earn. Some schools offer related majors, such as business management and international business. Degree-seekers can choose the right major by working with a career advisor.

Advisors provide much more than just helpful career advice. They also assist students with developing transferable soft skills that they can apply to a variety of positions after graduation.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of a bachelor's degree in the 2020-2021 school year exceeded $19,000. Earning a finance degree online may save some students money.

Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Financier Job

Degree-seekers explore many entry-level career opportunities, such as financial analyst, personal financial advisor, and loan officer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that loan officers earned a median annual salary of $63,380 as of May 2021.

Recent college graduates can land jobs by performing mock interviews and tailoring their resumes to each position. Career experts advise graduates to make the most of their alma mater's career resources. These and other tips can help professionals find a job wherein they may gain a few years of experience before enrolling in a master's program.

Graduates having trouble finding entry-level jobs should explore internship opportunities and local networking events. Other options include signing up for a career bridge program.

Step 3: Earn Your Master's of Finance

Many financiers with a bachelor's consider whether they should attend graduate school. An online master's in finance lets learners specialize by offering different concentrations such as:

Some degree-seekers advance their careers by earning a master's in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in international business or general finance.

Some affordable online master's programs charge in-state students as little as $129 per credit. Learners must consider many factors when deciding whether to attend grad school, especially if it means taking on student debt.

Students should evaluate their earning potential against the cost of an advanced degree to decide if a master's program is right for them. Other options exist for professionals who don't want to earn a master's degree. Options include graduate-level certificates, continuing education classes, and mentorship programs.

Step 4: Get a Job as a Financier

The finance field features many career specializations:

The BLS reports that financiers specializing in financial analysis earned a median annual salary of $81,410 as of May 2021. Top earners in Connecticut, Alaska, and New York made more than $114,000 per year.

Job applicants with some experience and a master's should look for positions that offer not only high salaries, but also professional development opportunities.

Step 5: Consider Continuing Education or Specialization

Online graduate certificates in finance can help private and public financiers further specialize and advance their careers. Other types of continuing education include professional certifications and individual classes. Employees can work with a supervisor to discuss how continuing education impacts career trajectory.

Some professionals earn a Ph.D. in finance. These degrees emphasize financial markets' structure and capital formation. Graduates may pursue a career as postsecondary teachers. BLS data from May 2021 shows that postsecondary teachers earned a median salary of $79,640.

What to Know Before Becoming a Financier

Accreditation

College accreditation ensures that students receive an excellent educational experience. In addition to institutional accreditation, independent agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredit top U.S. business programs.

Licensing and Certification

Private or public financers working as accountants or auditors may need certified public accountant (CPA) licenses to meet their career goals. Licenses differ from certifications and certificates, as the state issues them. Prospective CPAs complete postgraduate prerequisites and pass a comprehensive exam.

Cost

Many factors affect tuition, such as school type. Public schools offer residents the most affordable online bachelor's in finance programs. However, prospective students must consider hidden college costs to calculate an online college's true cost of attendance.

Undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers studying private or public financial management can explore business scholarships to reduce their need for student loans. Other strategies include comparing the cost of online and on-campus programs.

Salary

The BLS reports that business and financial professionals earned a median $76,570 annual salary in May 2021. This salary exceeded the national median salary by approximately $31,000. Professionals specializing in financial examination earned the most if they lived in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.

A master's or doctorate may increase salary potential, as a graduate degree opens up new career paths.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Financier

What qualifications do you need to become a financier? true

Aspiring private and public financiers need at least a bachelor's degree in a business-related field. A typical four-year program features major classes and general education requirements. Graduates use their education to explore entry-level positions.

Although top business and financial occupations require only a bachelor's, an MBA or other master's degree may qualify workers for a state-issued license. The benefits of a master's degree include specializing in topics like forensic accounting, tax accounting, or internal auditing.

Some job openings may require professional certification in addition to a degree. Certification requirements may include a specific number of years of work experience and examination.

What is the fastest way to become a financier? true

Working in private or public financial management requires a college diploma, a four-year commitment for most degree-seekers. Some students graduate faster if they enroll in an accelerated program. These programs appeal to academically motivated learners who can take on a heavy course load.

Earning a typical MBA or other master's degree takes two years. These programs, too, may feature an accelerated track. Some students in a bachelor's in business program sign up for their school's 4+1 BA/MBA program.

Professionals working toward the CPA must create an exam study plan that meets their needs. This plan may last weeks or months, depending on licensure candidates' other responsibilities.

Is it easy to get a job as a financier? true

The BLS projects the need for financial analysts to grow by 6% from 2020-2030. This figure falls slightly behind the 8% median projected growth rate for all U.S. careers.

Students who want to enter a rapidly growing financier field should consider becoming financial examiners. The BLS projects 18% growth in this field from 2020-2030. The need for many new workers lets recent graduates explore more open positions and negotiate a higher salary.

International finance careers may present additional challenges, such as needing to know a second language.

Can I become a financier with an online degree? true

An online degree from a fully accredited college offers the same learning outcomes as a degree from an on-campus school. Academic expectations and coursework do not differ between the two formats. Highly trained and experienced professors teaching on-campus classes also instruct online classes.

Online degree-seekers plan for their career in the same way as on-campus students. Online schools offer virtual career advising sessions, networking software, and additional tools graduates need to impress prospective employers. Other services may include interest inventories, mock interviews, and resume critiques.

How much money can I make as a financier? true

The BLS reports that personal financial advisors working in 2021 earned the highest median salary of all business and financial occupations, $94,170. The median salary approached $100,000 for professionals employed by investment firms. Washington state, the District of Columbia, and New York featured jobs with the highest average salaries for this career in 2021, ranging from $144,890-$158,040.

Factors besides field and state affect maximum salary potential. Public financiers' salaries may reach a lifetime cap if they work for a government agency. Government salary schedules determine workers' compensations and may include an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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