Financial Specialist Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for financial specialists. Get the facts about education, salary, and job options to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Financial Specialist?

Financial specialists utilize math, analytical skills and problem-solving skills in a variety of money-related roles in companies or organizations. Some of the roles could include becoming an accountant, a personal financial advisor, or an insurance underwriter. As an accountant, you would be responsible for keeping track of financial records for an individual or organization and making sure they abide by legal tax regulations. Personal financial advisors offer advice to individuals on a wide range of financial decisions, such as taking out loans, managing debts, planning for retirement and preparing taxes. Insurance underwriters make decisions regarding when to approve individuals' applications for insurance coverage. Take a look at the following chart for more information.

CareerAccountant Personal Financial Advisor Insurance Underwriter
Degree Required Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Educational Field of Study Accounting or related field Finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, law Business, finance, economics
Licensure/Certification Required for work as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Voluntary professional certification available Voluntary professional certification available; required by many employers
Key Responsibilities Analyze financial documents for mathematical accuracy and legal compliance; prepare tax returns; develop strategies for saving money or improving cost efficiency Educate clients about personal finance; devise strategies to help customers meet financial goals; research investment options Evaluate insurance applications; determine whether to offer insurance to an individual; determine the extent of coverage and the insurance premium
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 11% (for accountants and auditors) 30% -11%
Average Salary (2015)* $75,280 (for accountants and auditors) $118,050 $72,650

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Duties Would I Perform?

While your job duties as a financial specialist will vary depending upon your training, position and employer, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that career options include insurance underwriters, tax preparers, accountants, auditors, and credit counselors.

You may also work as a financial aid specialist at colleges or universities. In this job, you would work closely with various offices involved with student financial aid. Your duties may include advising students, managing student files, preparing audits, maintaining school and federal guidelines, researching debt-management tools and utilizing the National Student Loan Database System.

The BLS states that positions such as a financial analyst may require you to manage investments. You would advise clients about investment strategies, assess the performance of retirement and investment portfolios, and make investment and purchase decisions for clients.

Do I Need Prior Experience?

Most financial specialist occupations require you to have some experience. For example, if your job is to review financial and legal documents, you would need at least two years of work-related experience working with financial and legal terminology and with analyzing these types of documents. Experience with purchasing and accounts payable as well as financial applications and transactions are also helpful.

A job search for financial specialists at Monster.com showed most positions require a minimum of two years' experience while others require as much as ten years.

Would I Be Required to Have a Degree?

Though education requirements vary by position, careers as a financial specialist require you to possess a bachelor's degree, usually in a specific field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career as a tax preparer is the only financial specialist position that only requires a high school diploma. However, some tax preparers choose to get a degree so they can stand out among potential employees. Most employers prefer a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree with experience.

You may choose to get a master's degree if you are interested in a specific subject. You may also be required to also have a professional certification in certain careers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You may also be interested in becoming a risk management specialist, which requires a bachelor's degree if not a master's degree. These professionals help organizations make financial and operational decisions based on the amount of possible risk. Another job option is becoming a fraud examiner, investigator or analyst, which generally requires a bachelor's degree as well. This job involves investigating possible instances of fraud by conducting interviews, writing reports, and giving testimony during cases regarding fraud allegations.

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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