So you’ve aced your final exams and packed up your dorm. Now it’s time to start your job search. If you’re a finance major, you have a wide range of options to choose from. From working at one of the big four financial institutions or finding a gig within the finance department of a nonprofit, the opportunities are endless.
Feeling a little lost or just looking for more information on the different jobs for finance majors? You’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll show you the different career paths finance majors can take and highlight some of the most popular entry-level finance jobs. Plus, you’ll find advice on the type of skills and experience you’ll need to succeed in this industry.
Career Paths for Finance Majors
When it comes to most career paths, there are multiple avenues to reach success. The world of finance is no different. As a finance major, you can choose to work at a company or agency that specializes in finance or work within the financial department of a boutique firm in industries like tourism, medicine, or law, just to name a few. Additionally, you can look for a post-grad internship if you want to get hands-on experience before deciding on a full-time role.
Each career path offers different benefits and drawbacks, and it’s very likely that you’ll work at a blend of different companies throughout your career. Working at a major institution that specializes in finance can help catapult your career. It lends credibility to your resume and it shows you can handle the big leagues and produce great results. Large firms also offer a degree of anonymity and the chance to work with hundreds of individuals — meaning the opportunities for learning are endless.
On the other hand, working in a financial department within a smaller agency allows finance majors to play a key role in various fields. Not only do you have to understand finance, but you also have to understand the larger industry of the company — whether that’s hospitality or manufacturing.
This is a great choice for individuals who are interested in multiple fields and for recent grads that prefer a cozier work environment. At a smaller company, you’ll be better able to make close connections with other financial professionals and higher-ups. Plus, you’ll get more one-on-one time with industry thought leaders and it’s generally easier to have your voice heard in smaller agencies compared to huge corporations.
If you’re not quite ready to pick a full-time job after graduation, you can think about doing an internship or taking a gap year to study abroad. A gap year allows you to take some time off and focus on what you want to do next. It gives you some space and relaxation time that enables you to analyze what you want from your career and how you can achieve that.
An internship after graduation is an excellent way to build on your skills, get your foot in the door, and decide if a certain career path is right for you. You can find internships at major institutions — such as KPMG or Quicken Loans — as well as at financial departments within smaller agencies in various industries. With an internship, you can make a great first impression by working hard and producing results during the program — opening up the door to staying on with a full-time gig upon completion of the internship.
Through an internship, you can see what the day-to-day job looks like and ensure it’s the right fit for you. Internships are also a great way to make connections with like-minded individuals. Many also allow interns to work across departments, so you can try your hand at various tasks and see what you enjoy the most.
The Top Entry-Level Jobs for Finance Majors
Regardless of the career path you choose as a finance graduate, there are certain skills and experience levels for various financial services and jobs. You probably won’t land a VP of accounting, chief financial officer (CFO), or chief executive officer (CEO) gig right after college so if you have your sights set high, you’ll need to be prepared to continue your learning and build skillsets to reach your goals.
In most cases, you’ll need a finance degree — a bachelor’s degree at minimum for most entry-level roles and a master’s degree for more advanced roles. Here, we’ll show you a few example jobs for finance majors and what each one entails.
1. Financial Analyst
A financial analyst is in charge of gathering and assessing various financial metrics including budgets and income statements with the goal of protecting and increasing the company’s financial position. As a financial analyst, you’ll analyze budgets and profit statements to conduct studies and create financial projections and models. You’ll need a firm grasp of industry trends, economic conditions, and IT or fintech skills to succeed in this role. You’ll find financial analyst roles at insurance companies, consulting firms, and corporations.
2. Budget Analyst
A budget analyst examines company budgets in order to determine whether business ventures, investments, and other opportunities are a good fit. You’ll need to have strong communication skills since you’ll interview managers and other team members when conducting research on the company’s financial position. You’ll also need to be comfortable analyzing finance reports and creating projections and proposals. If you do well, you can move up to higher positions including business analyst and management roles.
3. Investment Banking Analyst
Investment banking analysts are key employees of Wall Street heavyweights including hedge funds, investment banks, and venture capitalist agencies. As an investment banker analyst, you’ll play a role in securities sales, brokering trades, and restructuring companies through mergers and acquisitions. These roles serve individuals as well as large corporations and government agencies.
In this job, you’ll conduct a significant amount of research on industry conditions and the financial position of various firms. Based on this research, you’ll analyze company performance and make recommendations and investment decisions regarding future deals and investments.
4. Personal Financial Advisor
A personal financial advisor is someone who helps individuals with investments as well as long- and short-term financial goals such as budgeting and saving. Your duties will include offering tax advice and financial planning as well as retirement and estate planning including the creation of wills and living trusts. If you plan on offering investments, selling insurance, or conducting trades for your clients, you’ll need to secure the appropriate licenses including the CFA (certified financial advisor) license.
Personal financial advisors need to have particularly strong communication skills. That’s because you’ll often need to explain complex financial reports and financial data to clients that don’t have a lot of financial knowledge. You’ll need to be able to take financial information and break it down so it’s clear and easy to understand.
5. Tax Accounting
As the saying goes, only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. Thus, there is always significant demand for tax accountants. Most entry-level applicants will start off as junior or associate accountants, assisting or shadowing a more advanced accountant at the firm. As a tax accountant, you’ll need to know tax laws and IRS regulations as well as state and local laws. You’ll conduct research, analyze financial records, prepare tax returns and other tax documents, and implement tax policy.
You can work within a firm or start your own accounting business. Most roles require a bachelor’s degree to start and you’ll need a CPA license to move up the ladder. Many people who start in tax accounting or accounting internships move to corporate positions including controller, budget director, and financial management roles.
6. Commercial Real Estate Agent
As a commercial real estate agent, you’ll work with larger firms and corporations in order to assess and plan future real estate pursuits. Your main job here is to analyze the company’s financial statements and determine which, if any, real estate investments are appropriate.
You’ll need to have a deep understanding of the real estate market, financial markets, industry trends, and general financial practices. Your daily duties will include listing properties, conducting valuations, advising clients on property acquisition, and assisting with financial transactions.
7. Business Administration
Business administration blends financial expertise with office management skills. Here, you’ll play a key role in ensuring the company runs smoothly and stays profitable. As a business administrator, you’ll conduct financial duties including creating spreadsheets to track spending, educating clients on various financial services and products, and inputting company data.
In addition to these financial duties, you’ll conduct human resources and office management projects as well. This includes providing office support, scheduling appointments, and managing business communications. Essentially, this role is a blend of business and finance expertise along with administrative duties. To excel as a business administrator, you’ll need excellent communication skills and solid knowledge of data and analysis tools.
How To Land a Finance Job
Many students choose finance majors since these degrees offer access to a huge industry with a wide range of job opportunities. Plus, finance is one of the more lucrative industries, particularly when it comes to entry-level jobs. In fact, according to PayScale, a finance major with a bachelor’s degree earns anywhere from $60,000-80,000 in a starting position. This is significantly higher compared to other industries.
So how do you land one of these lucrative jobs for finance majors? Here are the main skills you need for one of these roles.
Like all jobs, it’s incredibly important to have some degree of experience, general education, or prior coursework when applying for jobs for finance majors. While you don’t need a business degree from an Ivy League school of business, most institutions require a bachelor’s degree in a related subject. This includes things like finance as well as business, economics, macroeconomics, applied mathematics, and computer science.
If you have prior work experience in a financial role, include this on your resume. Even if it’s a passion project or a summer job, it helps recruiters see that you’re truly interested in the field and have some working knowledge of the financial industry.
Internship experience is one of the most valuable assets when it comes to applying for jobs for finance majors. If you’re able to land an internship at the company you want to work for while you’re still in school, you can dramatically increase your chances of securing a full-time job when you graduate. That’s because internships allow you to connect with hiring managers and recruiters as well as other employees within the finance industry.
Internships also provide a platform for you to showcase your knowledge and expertise. You’ll be able to work on real-world problems and create solutions for the firm. During the internship, your higher-ups will get a feel for your work ethic, thought process, and how you help the company achieve financial goals.
Above all, finance majors looking for jobs should have a strong command of numbers and basic financial principles. You’ll need to have strong communication skills and interpersonal skills since many of these roles are client-facing. You will also need a firm command of risk management skills since you’ll be handling client or firm money on a daily basis.
In addition to being a great communicator, you’ll need to have excellent decision-making and problem-solving skills. Most of these roles require you to conduct financial analysis and make financial decisions that can dramatically affect the future of the company. To do this successfully, you’ll need to be level-headed, calm, and thoughtful when making decisions.
In some cases, you may need to pass assessments and secure certifications in order to land the gig. For example, if you want to become a financial planner, you’ll need to pass the CFP (certified financial planner) test, which covers things like investment planning, tax planning, and professional ethics.
An accountant may need a CPA (certified public accountant) certification to work with their own clients or a CMA (certified management accountant) certification if you’re working in corporate accounting.
If you’re looking at getting into the investment industry, you’ll need to pass licensing exams such as the Securities Industry Essentials Exam, which is required by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Figure out what type of role you want and do your research. Make sure to check the education level requirements and whether you need to pass any licensing or certification exams before applying. You can use sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to find out more information including average salary, education level, and other requirements for various financial roles.
Find the Perfect Finance Role Today
There are hundreds of different roles for finance professionals. Whether you’re looking for jobs for finance majors in accounting, at a nonprofit, or in investment banking at a major financial institution, you’re sure to find a career you’ll love.
One of the best ways to lay the groundwork for a successful finance career is to secure an internship. If you want to be a loan officer, a credit analyst, a financial manager, or a corporate finance analyst, an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door. You can make connections with recruiters and managers in the industry and show the company why they should offer you a full-time role. Best of all, an internship looks fantastic on your resume and allows you to learn new skills and perfect your knowledge.
Looking for finance internships or something in a related field? We’re here to help. Join Scholars and get access to hundreds of companies including PwC, Northwestern Mutual, and KPMG. You’ll be able to create a profile and apply to open opportunities at some of the biggest firms in the financial industry. Plus, you’ll find insider tips on how to land the gig and what it’s like to work at these companies on our blog and on our podcast.