What Are My Career Options in Banking and Finance?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in banking and finance. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available in Banking and Finance?

Financial matters are important to almost every adult in America. People need to know whether to open a savings or checking account or both. Some people and companies want to invest some of their funds for retirement or increase profits. All of these questions need an answer from an expert with a background in banking or finance.

Three common categories of careers in banking and finance are insurance, corporate finance and commercial banking. The following chart provides an overview of specific careers in these industries.

Insurance Sales AgentFinancial AnalystBank Teller
Education Required High school diploma (minimum), bachelor's degree recommended Bachelor's degree High school diploma
Education Field of Study Risk assessment, sales, communication Finance, investment, tax law Accounting, finance, customer service
Certification and Licensure State license required, optional certification available License required for many positions, optional certification available and recommended Optional certification available
Key Responsibilities Policy planning, risk analysis, complex reporting Gather and interpret financial information, advise clients Conduct common banking transactions for customers, review accounts
Job Growth (2014-24) 9%* 12%* -8%* (decline)
Median Salary (2015) $48,200* $80,310* $26,410*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Career Options in Banking and Finance?

Banking and finance professionals work in a variety of industries and positions. For example, you can pursue a career in insurance, corporate finance or commercial banking. Within these categories, you can work in management, customer service or financial analysis.

Insurance professionals work for banks, government agencies and corporations. You may work as an insurance manager, sales professional or underwriter. In these positions, you perform tasks related to risk analysis, complex reporting and policy planning.

If you work as a financial analyst, you may work for companies or private clients. You would gather detailed and complex tax, accounting, finance and investment information to help companies or individuals make informed investment decisions. You might also evaluate investment options.

Banks employ customer service representatives to perform customer transactions, including deposits and withdrawals. Opportunities include teller or account specialist, who open, review and manage customer accounts.

What Education, Certification or License Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), except for customer service positions, most careers in banking or finance require a post-secondary degree (www.bls.gov). The degree level depends on the complexity of the position and the employer. You can select from programs in accounting, finance, business administration or economics.

Certification is available for many positions in banking and finance, but may not be required. For example, the CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst certification, which validates your skills in the investments industry. If you pursue a career in corporate finance, the Association for Financial Professionals administers the Certified Treasury Professional designation, which confirms your knowledge of acquisitions, cash management and corporate governance.

If you work with the Securities and Exchange Commission, you are required to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. You can contact your state's board of accountancy to inquire about the CPA licensing process.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

Your salary depends on your location, the company and the position you obtain. The BLS reports that, in 2015, financial analysts earned a median annual wage of $80,310. Insurance underwriters earned $65,040 and insurance sales professionals $48,200 annually. Banking tellers earned an average $26,410 per year in 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative financial careers usually need a bachelor's degree to get started. For one, you could become a budget analyst, working to collect and analyze and write financial reports. A job as a personal financial advisor helps companies and clients with investments. A third career field might be in sales as a manager running a team of salesmen of a product or service. A final career field could be as a bookkeeper or accountant. This job only needs training beyond high school or some college. You would take charge of the financial records of a company or client keeping excellent records of all financial transactions.

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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