If you’re looking for a stable job where you can help businesses grow, finance might be the perfect choice. Below, we’ve gathered the five top tips to help you start your finance career. Keep reading for more.
The outlook of the financial industry
Finance is a bustling field with the potential for significant growth by 2031. In total, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects more than 700,000 new jobs in the industry by that year as well as nearly one million jobs opening year on year due to replacement needs and growth. New graduates and experienced professionals alike should have little problem finding the right job that fits their interests, needs, and experience.
According to the BLS, the average salary for finance professionals was much higher than the average salary for other occupations at nearly $80,000 for finance careers vs. the nearly $50,000 national average. Not only should it be fairly painless to find a job in the industry, but you can also expect to earn more than people in other fields, too. Of the available career paths in finance, some of them offer median salaries much higher than the average. Financial analysts and business analysts, for example, average nearly $100,000 a year. As always, experience plays a big role in salary. Professionals with experience and expertise in the field might earn even more than the median.
Finance is a dynamic field with the potential for serious growth over the coming years and median salaries that are more impressive than other industries. There are some things you should know before you decide to jump into this area, however, so that you don’t waste time looking for jobs in the wrong place.
Can I work in finance without a degree?
While it is possible to work in the financial sector without a degree, jobs in the industry that don’t require a degree are few and far between and are entry-level positions. Working without a degree in finance typically leads to roles such as receptionist, bank clerk, or financial assistant. There are also other, less common, entry-level positions that don’t require a degree, but they are hard to come across.
As you can see, these jobs are finance-related but may not be the kind of jobs you want to make a career out of in the industry. For jobs that are more strenuous, interesting, and offer better progression, you’ll need to complete a degree of some kind.
Getting started in a career in finance
So, what kinds of things should you do to get started in a career in finance? Let’s take a closer look.
The best qualification to kick-start a long and successful career in finance is a degree.You should speak with either a career guidance counselor or a professional in the industry for more information regarding the degree of choice as not all universities offer all possible finance degree programs. It is a good idea to narrow down the kind of job you want to land in order to determine which specific degree is the right choice for you. The last thing you want to do is spend time and money earning a diploma only to discover that it isn’t relevant to your desired career path.
When looking for a finance degree program, there are a few things in mind. First, the university. It is important that you choose a reputable university with accredited courses. This matters because the quality of your education impacts the foundation upon which you will build your career. Prospective employers, especially for your first job or two, will be looking at your university to ensure your education is of high quality and gives you the skills you need to succeed in the position. If your degree is from a non-accredited college, it will not hold as much weight.
Do your research before you pick your program. Luckily, there is typically a wealth of information available online about various academic institutions, so you shouldn’t have to dig too deep. You’re looking for an established university with accredited degrees and, ideally, successful alumni in your field of choice.
Supplement non-finance-related education
We’ve talked about the importance of a finance degree, but what if you’ve already completed a degree in another field? The best thing to do in that case is to round out your education. You can’t go back in time and change your degree path, of course, but you can add finance-related qualifications and skills to your educational background. Most universities allow you to take classes even if you are not enrolled as a full-time student, and individual classes can be a lot more cost-effective than working towards a second degree.
If you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree of some kind, consider taking courses in accounting, economics, and financial analysis to get started. You might even consider applying to graduate school to earn an MBA in a finance-related field. Students with graduate degrees and post-graduate degrees who don’t want to add another degree to their resume should look at more advanced finance classes and workshops.
Financial “boot camps” run by firms such as Training the Street and Wall Street Prep are good examples of the latter. These workshops are well-respected and can teach you the skills you need to thrive in the finance industry, including financial modeling and advanced spreadsheet techniques. These workshops come with intensive training without the long-term commitment of college classes and are usually completed within a few days. Students with some familiarity with basic financial concepts will benefit the most from this option.
Get some experience
This step might not be required, especially if you are a new graduate, but it can help boost your resume and make you a more appealing candidate. Consider reaching out to a university offering finance degrees to look into options such as internships and shadowing opportunities. These experiences can teach you the practical skills you need to thrive in the industry.
Note that while some of these resources might be available for free, others will not. Unfortunately, you should be prepared to pay for these opportunities if you are serious about pursuing a career in finance. If you already have a finance degree from a respected university, you might wait to see if this step is necessary.
If you are currently a student, you should reach out to your professors to inquire about internship opportunities. These can also help you find a job and get started on the right foot. Internships also allow you to build your professional network. From finding work to progressing your goals and improving your skills, building relationships with other finance professionals can be a great boon to your career.
Another option to build experience in the industry is to take an entry-level job and learn as much as you can. This might seem underwhelming having spent years acquiring your degree, but spending a bit of time in a starting position can really help your resume. You don’t have to stay put and work there for too much time;even just a year or less can give you the experience you need to capture the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.
Find a mentor
Along with finding an internship, you might look into a mentor. Working with a mentor is similar to working at an internship but on a more individualized scale. When you work as an intern, you are expected to work independently; you probably have someone you can ask for advice in the office, but in general, you aren’t working one-on-one with a specific person. This means that you get experience in the industry and understand how offices work, but your individual skills aren’t closely monitored.
Mentorships are different. When you work directly with a mentor, they routinely assess your skills and knowledge and build plans to increase both. You can ask them questions about the industry and benefit from their experience and success. Finding a mentor works similarly to finding an internship. Speak with your professors and other instructors and ask if they, or someone they know, would be willing to work with you on an individual basis. You can also speak to other professionals in the field.
Make sure to approach the situation as professionally as possible and be ready to talk about your academic history and your long-term career goals. Looking for mentors with experience in your chosen niche will yield the most benefits for your career.
You might not find the perfect job right away. That’s normal—relatively few people find the job of their dreams right away. Sometimes you have to take a job that isn’t quite what you had in mind for a while until the position you want opens up. With that said, there are a few things you should do before you sign on somewhere for any extended length of time.
First, if your savings allow it, wait a while. If you can afford it, you don’t have to take a job immediately after leaving school. Consider taking a few weeks or months to search through available jobs. Make contacts at companies where you’d like to work and don’t hesitate to reach out to recruiters or hiring managers even if they don’t have jobs posted. You don’t have to be pushy—the goal here is simply to get your name on “the list” for the next round of hiring. Have your resume ready to go.
If you can’t afford to wait, look for entry-level work that allows a degree of flexibility while still paying the bills. This allows you to earn money while still allowing you the ability to leave quickly should the right job come around. Avoid taking more advanced positions if you can help it unless you plan to work there for a year or longer.
In-demand jobs in the finance industry
Now that you know what you need to do to start your career off right, let’s talk about the kind of job you might like. If you enjoy reading and interpreting big chunks of data, for example, financial analysis might be the right choice. These experts help businesses address both current and future financial issues within a business by recognizing trends in data. They also help businesses understand the market and the way other businesses are doing business and making their money.
Another potential job is financial consulting. What does a financial consultant do? It’s equal parts simple and complex. On a basic level, financial consultants analyze a business’s finances. In practice, they do much more. Consultants often help businesses come up with plans to optimize their cash flow and eliminate any extraneous expenses. To do this, they must have a firm understanding of the industry in question and the business’s goals. The ultimate goal is to help clients meet their financial needs without restricting their ability to operate effectively. The accredited courses provided by a reputable institution such as Spring Arbor University will provide you with all the skills and knowledge required to succeed as either a financial consultant or any other finance-related career.
Are you ready for an exciting career in finance? Whether you are a student, or a professional looking for a change, keep our tips in mind as you begin your search. Be patient, do your best to learn everything you can about the industry, and you’ll find your dream job in no time.