What Are My Career Options in Financial Services?

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

What Careers Are Available in Financial Services?

There is a lot to learn about the financial markets of the world. Interested students have many career areas they can specialize in. You could start as an insurance agent selling policies or an accountant taking care of the financial books for a client or company. Financial analysts advise clients on investments while budget analysts take charge of a company's daily financial health.

There are a variety of careers in the financial services industry. The following table lists some career options in this field:

Accountant Financial Analyst Insurance Sales Agent Budget Analyst
Education Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree High school diploma, though a degree is beneficial Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Maintain financial records Collect information instrumental in making informed investment decisions Assist with insurance products Structure, forecast and implement organizational budgets
Licensure/Certification CPA credential required for some positions Licensure often required Licensure often required Voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-24) 11%* (for accountants and auditors) 12%* 9%* 3%*
Median Salary (2015) $67,190* (for accountants and auditors) $80,310* $48,200* $71,590*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Options Are Available in Financial Services?

Financial services professionals work across multiple industries. You can find jobs in the insurance, securities or accounting fields. Job options include specialized areas, such as taxes; general, managerial or forensic accounting; and investments. Financial services professionals work under various titles, including financial analyst, accountant, insurance sales agent and budget analyst.

What Type of Work Will I Do?

The tasks required for financial services jobs vary. One common requirement is a strong aptitude for mathematics, budgeting and analysis. Financial analysts collect information instrumental in making informed investment decisions. You can work on the buying or selling side of financial investment for companies or private clients, and you can select from several specializations. For example, you can work as a risk or ratings analyst, or a portfolio or fund manager. You will forecast financial conditions to help customers or businesses make informed investment decisions.

Accountants ensure the accuracy of a company's financial records. You can expect to perform the analysis of financial documents, prepare financial reports and tax returns, and report the financial health of the company to management. Specializations in accounting, such as managerial or forensic accounting, require additional skills. Forensic accountants combine financial and legal knowledge to identify illegal financial activity. Managerial accountants use their knowledge of product or service development to perform cost and asset management activities.

If you are an insurance sales agent, you can expect to work with customers to select insurance products. You could choose to work in a specialized area of insurance sales, such as real estate or life insurance. You will locate new clients, offer product presentations, assist with the selection process and complete the initiation of the policy.

Budget analysts focus on structuring, forecasting and implementing organizational budgets. You can expect to perform a complex analysis of the budget to identify methods to improve financial efficiency and profitability.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

Salaries vary as widely as job options in the field of financial services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that accountants and auditors earned a median salary of $67,190 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Financial analysts earned a median of $80,310 annually. Insurance sales agents earned $48,200 and budget analysts earned $71,590.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative careers in finance will usually require a bachelor's degree. One career field, cost estimating, would give you work collecting and analyzing data to make cost estimate decisions on time, products, materials and labor. Another job might be in financial management helping companies produce financial reports to keep the company financially healthy. A third career field might be in insurance underwriting using your insurance skills for evaluation to write the best insurance policies for a person or company. A final career field could be as a management analyst. You will study a company and make recommendations on how they may make cuts or invest funds.

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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