Sound investing is critical for economic stability and continued growth, and financial analysts play an important role in guiding crucial investment decisions. Their work can impact everyone from individuals who are planning for retirement to large corporations that are looking to increase profitability.
Financial analysis as a field is constantly changing, and those who work in the industry should engage in continuing education to stay on top of current trends. See if this career is right for you by reading our career guide below.
Benefits of being a financial analyst
If you’re looking for a rewarding career guiding investment decisions, then becoming a financial analyst might be the right choice for you. As technologies evolve, skilled professionals are expected to increasingly be in demand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts, “A growing range of financial products and the need for in-depth knowledge of geographic regions are expected to lead to strong employment growth.”
Listed below are some of the benefits of being a financial analyst.
Benefit #1: Financial analyst salary
The BLS reports that the median annual financial analyst salary is $81,590, with the highest 10% earning more than $156,150. Salaries can vary depending on the industry you’re in and the specializations of the specific job. The median wage for those in the securities, commodity contracts, and financial investments sectors is $98,690.
Junior risk analyst: $58,213
Junior financial analyst: $56,521
Junior investment analyst: $66,953
Fund manager: $66,043
Portfolio manager: $95,915
Financial planning and investment manager: $112,111
Benefit #2: Travel possibilities
Some companies have financial analysts who travel and live around the world, learning the languages, cultures, regulations, and political conditions that impact investments made in different countries. If you’re eager to travel, there’s a great opportunity in finance to build customer relationships and achieve company objectives abroad.
Benefit #3: Career opportunities
Opportunities for financial analysts exist in multiple industries. This makes it a great option if you already have experience in a specific field and are looking to switch to a financial role. Financial professionals can work in banks, insurance companies, pension offices, securities firms, in-house accounting teams, and financial risk management consultant firms.
Benefit #4: Advancement possibilities
Personal and professional growth is possible for financial analysts. As you gain experience, you can transition from an associate-level position into a more senior role. Here, your responsibilities may shift to a more customer-centric sales position. The BLS reports that financial analysts can eventually become fund managers while managing larger portfolios for individuals.
Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report lists ‘upward mobility’ for financial analysts high on its Best Jobs list and ranks the occupation overall #18 among Best Business Jobs.
Industry trends for financial analyst tasks
Major financial sectors actively seek out experienced financial analysts. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. Specific trends that drive the profession will vary based on areas of specialization, but a broad industry outlook includes the trends listed below.
Trend #1: Technology focus
Demand for professional financial analysts is expected to increase as technology advances. Software and applications offer automated services, analytical tools, and forecasting features. Tech-savvy financial specialists are needed to gather big data and essential information from these systems to analyze and generate financial reports. With knowledge of the latest resources available, you’ll be able to offer higher-quality analysis for the benefit of your clients and investment portfolios.
Trend #2: Remote work activities
While most financial professionals work in offices, some financial analyst tasks are accomplished after office hours. This can lead to more opportunities to work remotely, as professionals are relying more on cloud-based platforms, virtual meetings, and teleconferencing with clients.
Trend #3: Increased job responsibilities
Financial analysts may also take on managerial tasks as their job responsibilities expand. You can shift to more of a sales role where you offer products and services, and possibly even entertain clients at events.
Trend #4: In-demand job opportunities
Financial analyst jobs are in demand. Research conducted by Burning Glass Technologies shows that these positions are the second most posted job among common financial careers.
As a financial analyst, you can evaluate investment opportunities and help organizations make better investment decisions. An entry-level financial analyst job description may also include such daily responsibilities as:
Meeting with individual clients or company leaders to determine investment goals
Evaluating financial data for individuals and companies
Studying economic trends and financial data
Uncovering opportunities on the buy-side and sell-side of financial transactions
Preparing monthly or quarterly reports
From small consulting firms to mega corporations, financial analysts work in a wide range of settings and across multiple industries. Different areas where you can work include the following.
How to become a financial analyst
Although there are different paths you can take to become a financial analyst, most of them include a couple of basic steps.
Step #1: Earn a degree
While it’s possible to enter the field with only an associate degree, a higher-level degree is often desired by employers. In fact, more than 97% of entry-level financial analyst job descriptions specify a bachelor’s degree is required.
In addition, the higher your level of education, the greater your earning potential. Financial analysts with a master’s degree have a median salary of $103,000, compared to $94,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree, and $66,000 for those with an associate degree.
Previous experience in a financial role can help advance your career, but it isn’t required by all employers. Apprenticeships and trainee opportunities may be available that combine on-the-job training with classroom lessons.
Step #2: Earn a license
Depending on the state and industry you work in, you may need an occupational license, which is sponsored by your employer. If your position requires you to sell financial products, you’ll need to be licensed through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Employers may also ask for certification through institutions such as the CFA Institute.
How to get a job as a financial analyst
Once you’ve completed the necessary educational and licensing steps, you may be wondering how to get a job as a financial analyst. The key here is taking advantage of opportunities to gain experience, and further develop your skills and network.
Step #1: Complete an internship
Something to consider during your educational journey or shortly after earning your degree, an internship is a great way to gain experience as a financial analyst. The type of company will vary by industry, so take some time to research specific industries that you’re interested in. Some examples of companies offering internships are:
Use your internship and early career opportunities to get real-world experience with the tools of your trade. While many financial analysts are proficient in Microsoft Excel, employers are also looking for you to have experience with the tools listed below.
R programming language
Step #3: Hone your skills
Research shows that employers favor a variety of different skill sets when looking for a financial analyst. Becoming marketable involves developing skills outside of simply being great with numbers. Employers are increasingly searching for candidates with proficiency in the areas listed below.
These are the 10 fastest-growing skills in the analytics industry projected through 2023.
Projected Posting Growth (2018-2023)
Top soft skills
Teamwork and collaboration
Top emerging skills
According to research conducted by Burning Glass Technologies, over the next five years these skills will see significant growth in job postings in finance.
Working with customers and clients around the world can provide many networking opportunities for financial analysts. There are also a number of accounting and finance associations that can help you advance your career. Some associations you may want to join include:
The growth potential for financial analysts may increase based on global economic activities. As new markets emerge, companies will need risk, investment, and economic development analysis. In addition, as new financial services appear on the horizon, more positions may become available. We’re here to provide the pathways that can connect you to this rapidly growing industry.