You can make a lot of money in the business of managing money. The median wage for financial specialists is $70,120, nearly double that for all occupations, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Yet many jobs in finance pay median salaries that are $10,000, $20,000, or even upwards of $50,000 more than that median figure. The best-paying job roles in finance include financial manager, personal financial advisor, financial analyst, management analyst and financial examiner.
A financial manager is responsible for the big-picture financial operations of a business. Financial managers are top-level positions that include job titles like cash manager, credit manager, treasurer, financial officer and controller. The role is responsible for ensuring what the BLS refers to as the “financial health” of a business. This means monitoring financial performance through generating financial reports, but it also involves planning for future financial success through handling investments and developing the company’s financial strategies.
The median salary for financial managers is $125,080, the BLS reported, although industry of employment makes a big difference in your earning potential in this role. The professional, scientific and technical services industry, which employs 12 percent of financial managers, pays the most, with a median wage of $147,040. Next most lucrative is management of companies and enterprises, an industry which accounts for 11 percent of employment in this field and pays a median salary of $141,890. Least lucrative are government financial manager roles, with a median wage of only $110,610.
Financial managers at the very highest level, called chief financial officers (CFOs), are part of the chief executive occupation. Chief executives enjoy a median wage of $183,270, with the potential to earn much higher salaries and bonuses, according to the BLS.
Personal Financial Advisor
Financial planning is another high-paying career option for finance majors. A financial planning role called personal financial advisor offers a median annual wage of $90,640, according to the BLS. Salary-wise, jobs in the industry of securities, commodity contracts and financial investments activities offer the brightest prospects, paying a median salary of $98,560. Because this industry accounts for more than half of all financial planner jobs, it skews the overall median wage slightly higher. Personal financial planners in other industries see median wages several thousand – and up to $20,000 – lower than the overall median for this occupation. For personal financial advisors who work in management of companies and enterprises, the median wage is $82,330, followed by $78,550 for those in credit intermediation activities and just $70,290 for those working for insurance carriers.
The work of a financial planner is satisfying and exciting, but it can also be stressful and requires strong math and analytical skills. Financial planners meet with clients and develop strategies to help them achieve financial objectives that can include saving for short-term or long-term goals and investing money for growth. General financial advisors work with the public, but one type of personal financial advisor, known as private bankers or wealth managers, work exclusively with clients who have a great deal of wealth to invest.
The median salaries listed for financial advisors don’t include bonuses or commissions earned on the financial products they sell, according to the BLS, so the full earning potential for this occupation can be even higher.
Another high-paying finance role is financial analyst. This job requires excellent math, computer and analytical skills, because financial analysts evaluate the financial stability and performance of companies and investment opportunities. One of the biggest differences between financial analyst and personal financial advisor is employment setting. While personal financial advisors work with individual clients, financial analysts work for businesses such as banks and insurance companies. Financial analysts as a whole earn a median salary of $84,300, but in the securities, commodity contracts and financial investments industry, the median wage is $100,180, the BLS reported.
Because analyzing investment opportunities is so central to their work, financial analysts tend to need stronger math and analytical skills than personal financial advisors. A general business major is acceptable for a financial advisor but may not be sufficient for an analyst.
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Though not strictly a finance career, management consulting is an area of business in which a finance background is valuable. Management analysts and consultants find ways to improve the operations of their clients’ businesses. While they observe and assess all aspects of business policies and operations, company management is usually looking for solutions that improve the financial performance of the organization. For management analysts, the median wage is $82,450, according to the BLS.
In addition to being among the best-paying roles in business and finance, management analyst is also one of the fastest-growing occupations in the field. The BLS expects jobs to increase by a faster than average rate of 14 percent.