There are many reasons college students choose to earn their degrees in finance. This area of business offers some of the best career outlooks, best wages and most plentiful leadership opportunities – factors which combine to make this major the best choice for many students.
Positive Job Growth
If you’re basing your choice of a college major partly on the demand for a degree in a given discipline, then you’re making smart decisions. No student wants to spend years studying and tens of thousands of dollars on tuition only to be unpleasantly surprised by a dearth of job opportunities. A poor job outlook is not an issue you are likely to encounter when you major in finance.
As a whole, jobs in the business and finance occupations are growing at a faster than average rate of 10 percent, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The fastest-growing job for finance graduates is personal financial advisor, for which the BLS anticipates a 15 percent rate of growth that could add 40,400 new jobs. Though not exclusively finance-related, the role of management analyst is expected to grow by 14 percent, culminating in 115,200 new jobs, the BLS reported. The BLS is predicting an 11 percent growth rate for both financial analysts and loan officers, with similar job gains of 32,200 and 36,300, respectively.
Jobs for financial examiners are expected to match the overall growth rate for business and finance jobs. Since this occupation currently employs only 52,500 Americans, that 10 percent job growth will equate to just 5,100 new positions.
Managing money can earn you a big paycheck. Finance careers are among the most lucrative roles in business. Personal financial advisor has the highest median annual wage, $90,640, according to the BLS. The personal financial advisors who work in the securities, commodity contracts and financial investments activities industry enjoy the highest salaries, with a $98,560 median. Since more than half of personal financial advisors work in this industry, it’s safe to say that many personal financial advisors earn near-six-figure wages. Earnings may be based on hourly fees, sales commissions or percentages of money managed, according to the BLS.
Financial analysts earn a median wage of $84,300 per year, the BLS reported. The 24 percent who work in securities, commodity contracts and financial investments activities again see the highest wages, with a median salary of $100,180. Another well-paying finance occupation is financial examiner. These finance professionals have more to do with checking that banks, lenders and other financial institutions are complying with laws and regulations than they do with managing money themselves, but they still enjoy a median wage of $81,690. The BLS reports that the 14 percent of financial examiners who work for the federal government earn a median salary of $118,040, while the next best-paying industry, securities, commodity contracts and financial investments activities, pays a median wage of $90,800.
Some finance roles offer the potential for significant bonuses on top of these high salaries, making the total earning potential of a financial specialist even higher.
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Leadership and Self-Employment Opportunities
If you aspire to be the boss, studying finance can help you get there. Financial manager jobs are plentiful, profitable and growing rapidly. The BLS predicts that job opportunities for financial managers will increase by 19 percent, which could result in the addition of 108,600 new jobs. The numerous job titles that fit into the category of financial manager include treasurer, controller, finance officer, cash manager, credit manager and even risk manager and insurance manager. A financial manager’s job duties and knowledge requirements depend on the size of his or her organization as well as the industry of employment, but generally, these managers oversee and evaluate the organization’s financial stability and performance. The median wage for financial managers is $125,080, the BLS reported. The highest-paying industries are professional, scientific and technical services, with a $147,040 median wage, and management of companies and enterprises, with a $141,890 median salary.
Studying finance also offers opportunities if you want to run your own business. If the financial planning side of finance interests you, then you could become one of the 24 percent of personal financial advisors who is self-employed. Personal financial advisors work with individuals to develop strategies for achieving financial goals that range from saving for a major purchase or for retirement to insuring themselves against financial risks. Some personal financial advisors, known as wealth managers or private bankers, work only with the very rich and handle large investments. Many personal financial advisors, however, work with members of the general public, whose financial goals tend to be more modest, such as saving for a child’s college fund and setting themselves up financially for retirement.
Studying finance is also great preparation for a role as a management consultant or management analyst, which involves examining an organization’s business operations to make recommendations for improving the business. Management consultants are usually outsiders hired to come in and evaluate a company while offering fresh insight. While management analysts can work for consulting firms, the BLS reports that 17 percent are self-employed.
Undergraduate programs in finance often include studies in a variety of other areas of business. If you are considering self-employment in the future, it may help to take some coursework in entrepreneurship so that you can develop the resources to start a business.