How Many Jobs are Available in Finance | Top Financial Career Options
Jobs in the finance industry are highly lucrative, which is why they’re so in demand. Of course, getting into the finance industry isn’t straightforward, given that admission requirements could be as high as the pay.
Most jobs require a degree from a four-year institution as well as many professionals possess higher degrees, such as business economics, math, or statistics.
The finance sector offers a variety of job opportunities, both on and off Wall Street, that cater to different skills and areas of interest.
If you’re wondering where to begin, or which direction to take, here’s an outline of some top financial career options today.
We’ve included the average base salary data across the U.S., along with “total pay” figures that include commissions and bonuses.
- The financial sector is made up of companies that provide financial services to consumers, government agencies, and businesses.
- The majority of finance jobs require four-year or higher degrees, particularly in math, business economics, statistics, and economics.
- Some of the most lucrative finance jobs include investment banker, actuary and quant analyst, portfolio manager as well as a securities trader.
Types of Careers in Finance
Average investment banker base salary: $101,187 (total pay is $51k – $301k)
The education requirements for an investment banker: A four-year degree in economics, finance, or a quantitative business-oriented field, and an MBA or master’s degree in financial management (ideally from a top-ranked school).
One of the most beautiful (and challenging) career paths in finance is investment banking. Investment banks assist businesses and governments raise money through stocks, bonds venture capital, public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
Most of the time, investment banking firms have many divisions and groups that have various goals and obligations.
In a traditional job at an investment bank, you can communicate with the issuers of securities and M&A experts. You could even be at the trading desk, trading bonds, stocks, and other securities on the secondary market.
While the profession has become more democratic, it has an elite tinge. MBAs from top-level schools are usually required. It’s still less typical for bankers in the field of investment to pursue professional certifications such as those of the Series 7 or CFA compared to other finance positions.
Types of Investment Banking Jobs
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A): Bankers who specialize in mergers and acquisitions offer strategies to businesses looking to join forces with rivals or purchase smaller companies.
M&A bankers employ financial models to assess the possibility of large-scale transactions. They typically have to interact with top executives. M&A experts must convince executives of their concepts.
Underwriting: Capital raising is an aspect of the bank’s underwriting department. Underwriting specialists generally concentrate on equity or debt and usually have an industry approach as well.
They typically work in roles that are client-facing and work with external contacts to identify capital requirements as well as working in-house with security salespeople and traders to identify the best solutions.
Underwriting isn’t just limited to investment banks and has expanded to larger universal banks to an impressive extent in recent years.
Private Equity: A lot of investment banks operate Private equity (PE) branches, but PE they are usually found in smaller, more specialist companies. Bankers who specialize in this field are able to raise funds for private companies and corporations and keep some of the profits they earn through transactions. It is common professionals in private equity to possess previous experience with investment banks and also have exceptional academic qualifications.
Venture Capital: The venture capital (VC) firms are often specialized in offering cash to young businesses, usually in growing industries like biotech, technology, or green tech.
Although many of the companies they target end up failing, VCs often prosper by investing their money into and out of the beginning of their development thereby generating massive yields on investment.
People employed by venture capital companies are generally adept at data crunching and deal-making and are well-informed about the latest technologies and concepts. They relish the idea of finding “the next big thing.”
Average portfolio manager base salary: $88,035 (total pay is $55k – $173k)
Education requirements for Portfolio Managers: Four-year degree in economics, business, or finance, in addition to an any applicable Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license(s).
Portfolio management is among the most sought-after jobs in the financial industry. Managers of portfolios (aka the money manager) supervise retail and institutional clients’ investments.
They provide personalized strategies for investing and investment strategies to their clients. They generally have the power to make decisions on the implementation of these strategies to meet the client’s goals.
It’s normal for the portfolio manager to focus on specific asset classes, for instance, the fixed income or equities.
A manager could be an expert in particular varieties of securities, blockchain-related startups, or high-yield bonds. The funds that have specialized managers might seek people with experience in research analysis.
Some have broader mandates like the multi-asset-class strategy and they often search for managers who have a vast knowledge of investing and experience.
There are numerous employers in the industry that each focus on a particular segment:
- Financial service and investment firms provide funds to retail investors.
- Investment banks offer strategic advice for large institutions, companies even government agencies.
- Commercial banks provide a variety of investment options to their customers.
- Portfolio management firms and hedge funds are designed to serve wealthy individuals.
After obtaining a four-year university degree, along with a graduate degree, a lot of potential portfolio managers also obtain the CFA (Chartered) designation.
Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. A typical portfolio manager’s job is a “destination” job that will not have any other direction. Therefore, instead of continuing to climb the career ladder Portfolio managers usually manage an increasing amount of cash. They may also decide to establish their own company and hedge fund.
Average quantitative analyst base salary: $85,042 (total pay is $62k – $154k)
Education requirements for Quantitative Analysts: Masters or Ph.D. in a quantitative area such as math, statistics, or finance with a solid computer skill set as well as an advanced diploma in computational or financial engineering. finance.
While certain positions in economic analysis require writing or public speaking, quantitative analysts (aka “quants”) generally operate in the background.
Analysts who specialize in this type of analysis design mathematical models that aid companies in take business and financial decisions.
Banks, asset managers insurance companies, hedge funds, and private equity companies all use quants to assist them to manage risk and finding investment opportunities.
Quants are in high demand in the trading industry which is where they develop algorithms to identify the best trading strategies. Many quants have a background in math or statistics usually with an advanced degree such as a Ph.D.
Average actuary base pay: $96,843 (total pay $57k $166k – $57k)
Actuary education prerequisites: Four-year degree in the actuarial sciences and maths statistics, or related fields to business, such as economics, finance, or business, as well as classes and a set of professional examinations that are offered by either the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or Society of Actuaries (SOA).
Actuaries study the financial consequences of risk through mathematics, financial theory, and statistics.
They gather, compile and evaluate information to calculate the probabilities and the likely cost of such situations as sickness, injury or disability, death, and property losses.
According to the state on the website of the Society of Actuaries states on its website, “Actuaries are experts in making predictions about the likely outcome of events in the future using numbers and not crystal balls. “1
They work for organizations that have to manage risk, which includes insurance firms (the most popular employer) pension plans and banks, investment firms, investment banks accounting firms, consultancy firms, government, and hospitals.
Their expertise and input are essential in helping these organizations manage their investments to reduce risks and maximize returns.
In order to work as an actuary, you require excellent knowledge of maths and a four-year bachelor’s degree in actuarial sciences, mathematics statistics, finance, or economics.
To attain full official status as an actuary, you need to be an associate member or fellow in the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
The certification process can take anywhere from approximately four up to seven years for associate level, followed by another two to three years to attain fellow status.2
Average financial planner base salary: $64,225 (total pay is $43k – $119k)
Education requirements for financial planners: Bachelor’s degree plus certifications and FINRA license(s).
Financial planners aid individuals in creating strategies to guarantee their present and long-term financial stability. They typically review the goals of the client’s finances and devise a strategy to save and invest.
The strategy could focus on the preservation of wealth or growth in investment and could even incorporate planning for estates and taxes.
The majority of the financial advisors are part of large, multinational firms or smaller, locally located companies. Some planners have a flat fee or an amount based on the assets under management of the client (AUM) and get commissions for the products they offer.
In general, financial planners who have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation are in high demand since their education is strict.
They must complete the equivalent of 6,000 hours of financial planning experience, pass various tests, including a two-day, 10-hour exam for case studies, and fulfill regular education requirements.
Average financial analyst base salary: $62,036 (total pay is $46k-87k)
Financial analyst education requirements: Four-year degree in finance or related fields; an MBA; CFA certification; and a valid FINRA license are beneficial.
Analysts working for firms in the financial industry are typically charged with researching possible investments and providing advice and suggestions to guide traders and portfolio managers.
Financial analysts are also employed by non-bank organizations in which they evaluate the financial health of the business and assist to develop budget plans.
As an analyst in finance to have solid analytical, mathematical, and communications skills, as well as being in a position to handle high stress.
You should hold a degree of four years in finance or in a related field. You’ll eventually need a CFA certification or a different FINRA license, and most likely an MBA.
Types of Financial Analyst Jobs
Investor Analyst: Analysts in the field of investment typically are experts in one or more areas, such as the geographical location of industries or economic sectors, or investment vehicles.
Analysts working for sell-side businesses typically put out recommendations for buying and selling to clients. Analysts who work for a buy-side company usually recommend stocks to purchase or sell to portfolio managers.
Financial Analyst: Financial analysts are typically employed by the more conventional (non-finance) organizations as well as government organizations.
Nearly every major company, regardless of industry or industry, has financial analysts on their staff to review cash flows and expenditures, monitor budgets, and much more.
They can also aid in determining the right corporate structure for capital or aid in capital raising. Financial analysts can have the ability to advance through the ranks of their company to eventually become the chief financial officer or treasurer.
Base economic analyst pay: $61,845 (total pay of $40k – $98k)
Education requirements for economists: Degree (advance preferred) in statistics, economics, or another related field, as well as previous experience in writing and publishing reports.
Economic analysts look at broad regions of the economy and the markets to find important developments.
These positions are appealing to those who are interested in analyzing data, following developments, and coming up with opinions on the basis of these trends about the future of the financial markets.
Analytical jobs typically require public speaking and writing, as well as a lot of work using Excel and other Excel software.
The positions are available in investment banks, money-management companies, as well as other traditional financial institutions.
They can also be located within the government sector the public sector and academia. Many financial analysts hold an MBA degree, while a large number hold a Ph.D.
Because of the writing aspect of many jobs, prior experience in working in publishing and writing the field is required.
For a job as an economist, you must have at least a four-year college degree or an advanced degree in statistics, economics, or another related subject.
While there is a significant threshold to get in however once you are accepted analysts are able to enjoy a level of freedom that many other finance jobs don’t.
Analysts are often employed by many different employers. An experienced economist might switch from an investment bank to one at a university, or one at the federal government while doing exactly the same work at each of the places.
Types of Economic Analysis Jobs
The economist: Economists are ubiquitous across a range of financial institutions. Investment banks as well as asset management companies and central banks have economists, as do government institutions and agencies.
Economist tracks and analyses data to understand the current economic or market conditions and forecast future trends.
Economic Strategist: There’s a line of distinction between a strategist and an economic analyst. Economists are more focused on the economy in general, while strategists focus on financial markets.
The jobs of strategists tend to be found in banks and money management firms, as opposed to government and academic institutions. A lot of strategists start working as researchers, focusing on a specific industry or product.
Average securities trader salary: $72,612 (total pay is $45k – $251k)
Securities trader education requirements: Four-year degree plus applicable FINRA license(s).
Securities traders are employed by commercial banks, investment banks, asset management companies as well as hedge funds, and many more.
In any of these places, they trade and buy securities on behalf of assets that are managed by the firm. Traders operate in various markets (e.g. commodities, stocks, and crypto) and are able to specialize in a specific type of investment or asset class.
It was once feasible to progress as a trader without having a college degree. While the path to a career in trading isn’t as specific as, for instance, investment banking, most traders have a degree in a related field to finance, such as an accredited university.
Also, most hold advanced degrees in mathematics, statistics, or related fields. It’s also normal for traders to pass tests like the series seven as well as the series 63 examinations earlier in their careers.
Good traders are usually allocated a larger amount of capital. It’s not unusual for top traders to strike off on their own to create hedge funds.
Types of Trading Jobs
Sell-Side Traders: Sell-side traders are usually employed by banks. They purchase and sell goods for the benefit of the bank’s customers and the banks themselves.
Buy-Side Traders: Buy-side companies, similar to asset management companies, employ traders. They usually conduct trading and buying under the supervision of the portfolio manager.
Hedge Fund Traders: Hedge fund traders aren’t doing their job to meet client demand; instead, they aim to make the most profit for the fund. As with buy-side trader jobs, hedge funds can accept orders from portfolio managers or maybe be in the position of deciding on their own purchases and sales.
Choosing a Financial Career
For a successful job search that has the greatest chance of success, you must consider the need for the job. Make sure you research the job first to find out what options are available.
The time spent identifying the most intriguing options could be time well spent in an occupation that doesn’t work for you.
Financial careers require specific abilities and offer a variety of working environments It is therefore important to choose a career that is compatible with your future interests and skills.
People with good interpersonal skills such as this, for instance, may work well as a financial planner, whereas those who love to crunch numbers could be better actuaries.
Finding Finance Job Opportunities
There are financial jobs at nearly every business in almost every sector. There are two methods to locate openings: offline and online, and it is advisable to utilize both.
Remember that financial positions are extremely specific, and therefore the general job sites are not the best place to look for these jobs.
If you’re looking offline, specialized executive recruiting firms (headhunters) are an excellent source to find financially-oriented job opportunities and career advice.
The alumni association of your school can be extremely helpful by connecting you with industry experts and B-school alumni who will offer insight and even opportunities for you to apply.
Conferences for the industry and other networking events are great ways to find financial jobs. In terms of networking, don’t forget the importance of personal contact. Everyone you meet might be aware of an opening for employment.
Make sure your communication channels are open by responding in a professional and personal manner with every interaction.
The Job Market Is Tightening.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), finance professionals will continue to see job growth through 2020. This includes both entry level positions as well as more experienced roles. However, the BLS also reports that the number of people employed in the sector is expected to decrease by 1 percent between 2014 and 2024.
Employers Want People Who Can Work Well Under Pressure.
As an employer, you need to make sure you hire candidates who are able to work under pressure. If you’re not careful, you might end up with a team of people who aren’t able to handle the stress of being in a high-pressure environment.
You Need To Be Able To Adapt And Learn Fast.
It’s also important to understand how different jobs will affect your life. For instance, if you’re going into finance, you’ll likely spend more time at work than other professions. This means you’ll need to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in your schedule.
You Should Have A Good Understanding Of Accounting Principles.
If you’re interested in a career in finance, you should have a good understanding of accounting principles. This includes knowing how to calculate profit margins, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
You Must Be Willing To Take Responsibility For Your Own Career.
Employers also look for people who are willing to take responsibility for their own careers. They want to see that you’ve taken initiative to learn more about the industry you work in.
Financial careers typically have significant obstacles to entry, a hefty competition between candidates, and a lot of stress.
Yet, these careers have many advantages, such as an environment that is challenging and interaction with highly-motivated and knowledgeable colleagues, the chance to advance, and a high salary.
Although many individuals choose the financial industry because of the potential for income, those who are the most successful tend to possess a passion for their job.
What are the best careers in finance?
The financial industry has numerous job opportunities, both on and off Wall Street. Jobs include financial planners and financial analyst portfolio managers, securities traders along with quantitative analysts.
What are the most lucrative positions in finance?
Actuaries, investment bankers quants, portfolio managers, and securities traders make some of the highest pay in finance.