Financial Analyst: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a financial analyst. Learn about the education and certification requirements as well as salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Financial Analyst?

As a financial analyst, you will assist individual people and/or businesses with investment decisions. You'll need to understand and analyze trends that affect investments. Your job duties may include analyzing data, preparing reports and developing financial strategies. You may also be responsible for giving advice to investment sales agents.

Here is some basic information concerning this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree (minimum)
Education Field of Study Accounting, economics, finance, mathematics
Key Responsibilities Prepare action plans, calculate and project risk for investments
Certification Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Job Growth (2014-2024)12%*
Average Salary (2015) $95,320*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Financial Analyst?

Financial analysts use their knowledge of mathematics, statistics and economics to help companies make sound investment decisions. They perform the complex analysis of various investment instruments, including stocks, bonds and other securities. If you obtain work as a 'buy side' analyst, you can expect to prepare action plans for company investments. This includes analyzing financial documents to forecast a company's financial standing and evaluating investment options. As a 'sell side' analyst, you would work on behalf of banks and other investment companies to sell investment products.

You can also enter the field of risk analysis. Risk analysts use their knowledge of finance and economics to project the risk involved in investment decisions. Management opportunities include portfolio management. As a portfolio manager, you can expect to select the best investments for your company. You may also supervise a team of analysts as a portfolio manager.

What Education or Certification Do I Need?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that financial analysts must possess a bachelor's degree, at minimum (www.bls.gov). Many positions require a master's degree. You can select from several postsecondary programs in economics, accounting or business.

Bachelor's degree programs offer a foundation in finance. You can expect to take courses in macro and microeconomics, accounting, statistics and finance. A master's degree program will further focus your studies. You can expect to take advanced courses in finance, accounting and asset pricing.

You can pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, which is offered by the CFA Institute. The certificate validates skills in financial reporting, analysis, corporate finance and ethics. You must hold a bachelor's degree and four years investment experience to be eligible for the CFA.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

The BLS reports that financial analysts earned an average annual wage of $95,320 as of 2015. The highest-paid earners reported wages of $160,760 or more per year. The lowest-paid earners reported compensation of $49,450 or less. Your compensation may vary depending on the location and employer.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree in finance, you may also consider a career as a budget analyst, financial manager or financial advisor. Financial managers direct an organization or business's finance activities and may also be responsible for preparing financial documents and analyzing data. Finance advisors give clients advice on how to manage their finances, including investments and taxes. Budget analysts are responsible for developing and monitoring budgets as well as helping companies organize their finances.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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