Finance Specialist Job Description: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a finance specialist. Learn about job duties, training requirements, job outlook, and salary to find out if this career is for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Finance Specialist?

Finance specialists offer advice and analyze various money-related issues. They may work for individual clients or larger organizations. Finance specialists must always work within the rules and regulations that apply to their industry. A few examples of finance specialists include accountants and auditors, budget analysts and personal financial advisors. Accountants and auditors track money for clients and often handle the financial paperwork of an organization. Budget analysts closely monitor budgets for their employer to ensure that the organization can reach its goals. Personal financial advisors help clients plan for their future by establishing different accounts to prepare for things like retirement or college savings. The table below outlines the general requirements for finance specialists working in these different, specific careers.

Accountants and Auditors Budget Analysts Personal Financial Advisors
Degree Required Bachelor's degree (minimum) Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Licensure/Certification License required Professional certification available License required for certain positions
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%* 3%* 30%*
Average Salary (2015) $75,280* $75,150* $118,050*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where Can I Work as a Finance Specialist?

As a finance specialist, you can work for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, banks, academic institutions and government agencies, among other organizations. You might, for example, find employment as an accountant or auditor in a company's payroll, accounts receivable or accounting departments. These positions may lead you through the corporate ranks to a management position or, eventually, an executive position.

At a bank or an insurance company, you could work as a personal advisor, helping plan clients' financial futures. You might also find employment as an auditor, revenue agent or tax collector with a government institution, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of the Treasury.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your job duties as a finance specialist may vary according to your work setting and job title. If you work for a business, you may make decisions on fiscal policies, develop budgets, generate financial reports and maintain accounting records. Other duties might include overseeing expenditures and conducting cost analyses. At a university, you might also structure and manage the operating budget for student loans, grants and other contracts. Finance specialists who work as personal advisors may meet with clients and help them make financial decisions or develop investment portfolios.

What Training Do I Need?

Generally, you can enter the field with a bachelor's degree; however, a master's degree in finance or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance may lead to upper-level positions. These programs teach you to analyze money markets and develop strategies to create financial solutions. They enhance your analytical and quantitative skills to help you make decisions about the financial status and future of your client or company. You might take courses in portfolio management, capital markets, corporate finance, investments and financial reporting.

Many finance professionals must hold state licensure to conduct specific tasks. Personal advisors who buy or sell assets, for example, may be required to hold different types of licenses for each type of asset they trade. To work as an accountant, you may be required to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In most states, you must complete 150 semester hours of college, which is generally 30 hours more than a typical bachelor's degree program. You must then pass a certification exam to earn the CPA designation.

What Will I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a mean annual salary of $75,280 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those who worked for the federal government earned a mean annual wage of $94,520. In the same year, budget analysts earned a mean annual wage of $75,150, while personal financial advisors earned a mean annual wage of $118,050.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Several related careers that require a bachelor's degree include financial managers, financial analysts and securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. Financial managers oversee the work of other financial specialists as they try to make an organization as financially stable and successful as possible. They may develop different plans and oversee investments to ensure this occurs. Financial analysts help advise those who make investment decisions. They closely study the market and research various options. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents also advise companies on different financial investments. They also sell securities to clients and often communicate with buyers and sellers in the market.

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