Financial manager, a top role in the field of finance, is a prestigious job that requires a college degree and years of experience. While a bachelor’s degree is a necessity, students have a choice of college majors as well as the option to decide whether or not to go to graduate school. This career encompasses job titles like controller, finance officer and credit manager. To work in this high-paying career, you will need a college degree and a minimum of five years of experience in a role like financial analyst, accountant, securities sales agent or loan officer. Professional credentials such as the CFA Institute’s Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, the Certified Treasury Professional designation from the Association for Financial Professionals or a certified public accountant (CPA) license can also be beneficial.
Work in the Field of Financial Management
A financial manager is in charge of a company’s financial health and stability, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Financial managers take on various job duties, from generating financial reports to guiding the company’s investment decisions. They bring their knowledge and experience of finance to the company’s senior management team, helping to create plans, strategies and company policies that relate to financial goals and performance.
The median wage for financial managers is $127,990, the BLS reported. Opportunities for financial managers are rising at a faster than average rate, with the BLS anticipating a 19 percent increase in jobs for this occupation in just a decade, compared to a seven percent increase expected across all occupations.
Financial manager is a senior-level role, but above financial manager is the C-suite role of chief financial officer (CFO). For CFOs and other chief executive roles, the median wage is $189,600 per year, according to the BLS.
Undergraduate Degree Options for Financial Managers
A bachelor’s degree is the typical level of education needed for a financial manager position. Students who want to become financial managers can choose from a few different college majors. Finance, naturally, is a great program of study for this occupation. In a bachelor’s degree program in finance, students might take classes in investments, managerial finance, corporate financial analysis, financial accounting, portfolio management, banking, global finance, wealth management and risk management.
Other business degrees can also provide the foundation you need to become a financial manager. A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree program has a broader scope than a typical finance degree program. Usually, students in a BBA program choose a specialization or concentration. Since financial reporting is a big component of a financial manager’s job, an accounting background is also acceptable, according to the BLS. In a bachelor’s degree program in accounting, students typically will take intermediate and advanced coursework in subjects that include cost accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, taxation and accounting information systems. Aspiring financial managers can also major in economics, the study of scarcity and the allocation of wealth and other resources.
All business majors, including finance, typically require students to complete core business studies in subjects like management, marketing, finance, economics and accounting.
Graduate Degree Programs for Aspiring Financial Leaders
While a bachelor’s degree has historically been sufficient to become a financial manager – and is still enough for some positions today – more employers are looking for candidates who have a master’s degree, the BLS reported. The same programs of study that were relevant at the bachelor’s degree level are viable options at the graduate level, as well.
A Master of Finance program might include graduate-level studies in finance theory, corporate financial accounting, financial mathematics, financial markets, financial analytics and financial regulations. Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs, like BBA programs, draw from different disciplines within business. Classes might include financial accounting, financial management, marketing management, economics for managers and organizational behavior and leadership.
In a Master of Accounting degree program, students take courses in financial reporting, managerial accounting, cost accounting, data analytics for accountants, federal income tax and auditing and assurance services. In a master’s degree in economics program, students may complete classes in mathematical economics, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, applied econometrics, economic development, labor economics and public economics.
Specifically, programs that incorporate studies of financial analysis methods and software are ideal for this career path, according to the BLS. No matter what degree program graduate students choose, they should strive to improve their analytical skills.