The banking and finance industry is heavily regulated. The business professionals who check that banks and financial institutions are in compliance with these laws and regulations are called financial examiners. A bachelor’s degree, along with extensive on-the-job training, is required for most financial examiner job roles, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Financial Examiner Jobs
The goal of a financial examiner is different from the goal of most other finance jobs. Rather than making money, financial examiners strive to keep financial institutions and transactions in compliance with regulations. A third of all financial examiners work in the credit intermediation industry, which revolves around the lending of money, the BLS reported. Unsurprisingly, the government is another major employer of financial examiners, with 14 percent of the occupation working for the federal government and eight percent working for state governments. Both the securities, commodity contracts and financial investments industry and the management of companies and enterprises industry account for an additional 11 percent of financial examiner roles.
Financial examiners earn a median salary of $81,690, the BLS reported. The federal government happens to be the most lucrative employer for financial examiners, paying a considerably higher median wage of $118,040. Opportunities for financial examiners are expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 10 percent, adding 5,100 new jobs to the economy, so now is a good time to prepare to enter the career field.
Financial examiners who specialize in consumer compliance are on guard for predatory loans and discrimination, while those who work in risk assessment check that banks aren’t stretching themselves so thin in lending that an unexpected loss would be devastating.
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Based on the job title, you might think that finance would be the number-one major to lead to a financial examiner career. While that program of study is a solid choice, it is accounting that is considered the first choice for aspiring financial examiners. Financial examiner jobs in the private sector may not specify just how much accounting coursework candidates must have. However, those who wish to work for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) – an independent entity of the federal government – need to complete at least six semester hours of accounting study, the BLS reported. One could easily argue that the role of financial examiners has more in common with that of auditors and accountants – financial reporting and checking for inaccuracies and inconsistencies – than with investment-focused finance roles such as financial analyst or personal financial advisor.
As an accounting major, you would most likely take classes such as accounting principles, financial accounting, tax accounting, management accounting, government and nonprofit accounting, international accounting and auditing. Students progress from introductory accounting coursework through intermediate and advanced accounting classes.
While only a bachelor’s degree is required for financial examiners, earning a master’s degree in accounting or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in accounting degree can help you attain the in-demand certified public accountant (CPA) credential.
If you would prefer to major in finance, you will still develop the math skills and analytical skills that the BLS ranks as among the most important qualities for financial examiners. Undergraduate degree programs in finance often include coursework in financial management, the management of financial institutions, the structure and trading of financial markets, international finance, entrepreneurial finance and financial modeling. Your core business coursework in accounting will also help you in your future career, and the major classes you take on investments will ensure that you still have the option to pursue other finance roles if you choose.
If you’re having trouble choosing between an accounting major and a finance major, you should know that some schools are now offering programs, like the bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting management, that combine the best of both degrees.
Many students view economics, the study of how people use resources such as money and of the scarcity of those resources, as a discipline that is more academic than practical in nature. While economics degree programs do include coursework in economic theory, research and behavioral aspects, they also incorporate studies in mathematics, statistics and financial markets and institutions. Economics is a great major to choose if you want to develop your reasoning skills and understand public policy and current affairs along with developing the skills to become a financial examiner.
Economics majors may also go on to earn MBAs or law degrees, making this major a versatile option that can lead to many different career paths.