Due to its lucrative career potential, challenging analytical nature and the excitement and prestige of managing wealth, finance is a popular field of study and employment. If you are thinking about majoring in finance, you might wonder how much education you will need for the career you want. A bachelor’s degree is the required education for most finance roles. However, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance or specialized Master of Finance degree can help students advance their careers into leadership roles, prepare for professional certification exams and command higher salaries.
Finance Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree
Finance is the study of money. This field of business, which looks at assets and liabilities, is one of the most technical and analytical of the business majors. Students of finance learn how to manage money for growth through educated forecasting of investment potential and strategic financial planning and decision-making. Bachelor’s degree programs in finances usually include core coursework in other business subjects, such as accounting, management and marketing. The major coursework for a finance student might include with studies in financial management, corporate finance, international finance and investment and portfolio management.
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A bachelor’s degree is all the education you need to get started working in jobs like financial analyst, personal financial advisor and loan officer, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). High-paying finance careers such as investment banker, venture capitalist, commercial banker and hedge funds manager often appeal to candidates with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Other jobs with a finance degree include financial services sales agent, the category which encompasses roles such as investment banker, broker and financial consultant. If you would like to put your finance education to work in a more general business role, management analyst or management consultant is another option to consider.
A bachelor’s degree can prepare you for a role as a financial examiner, but the educational requirements for this job have more to do with accounting than finance, the BLS reported. Incorporating accounting and economics into your studies can add to your career options.
Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Finance
If so many great careers are open to you with only a bachelor’s degree, why should you spend the time and money to complete a Master of Finance or MBA in finance degree? There are significant benefits of going to graduate school for finance. One reason finance professionals choose to advance their education is to get ready to work in a managerial role. While it is possible to become a financial manager with only a bachelor’s degree, the BLS acknowledges that a lot of employers today look for candidates who have a master’s degree along with five or more years of finance work experience. Shorter, more specialized Master of Finance degree programs, which often take just one year to earn, are seeing especially high demand among employers, according to U.S. News & World Report. Earning your Master of Finance degree can put you on the path to roles such as financial controller, finance officer, treasurer, cash manager, credit manager, insurance manager or risk manager.
In the business and finance career field, many occupations see a wage premium, or pay raise, for holding a master’s degree, according to the BLS. The most pronounced increase is in the case of securities, commodities and financial services sales agents, who are also known as stockbrokers. In this career, the median wage with a master’s degree is 89 percent, or $80,000, more than the median salary for those with a bachelor’s degree. Though not quite as drastic, financial managers, too, see a big increase in earning potential when they go to graduate school. Financial managers with a master’s degree earn 41 percent more than their counterparts with only an undergraduate education.
For some graduate finance students, earning a master’s degree isn’t just an achievement in itself, but also a means to achieving a different end: becoming certified. Attaining a professional certification such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential can considerably boost your career. However, getting certified isn’t easy. Both certifications require students to earn a passing score on lengthy professional exams, and the CFA exams, in particular, are notoriously difficult. Studying finance at the graduate level can help you prepare for the challenging CFA exams.
As a whole, financial managers enjoy a median annual wage of $125,080, according to the BLS.