A master's degree has become an increasingly valuable asset for professionals in various fields today. There's no question that a program for graduates is a major life commitment that requires varying but substantial measures of energy, time, money, and self-motivation.
If you are considering pursuing a Master of Science in Finance degree, you might find that it's worth the investment on all counts. You'll find attractive salaries and several career options for master’s in finance degree holders that will likely suit your skills, experience, and preferences.
What Types of Career Paths Can You Take When You Earn Your Master of Finance Degree?
It's only natural that you want to ensure a Master of Finance degree is right for you. One way you can better understand your interest in the field is to explore career opportunities. No one wants to earn an advanced degree to find no jobs available or nothing of interest upon successful degree completion.
However, if you have a love of numbers, organization, and risk management, for instance, the chances are strong you'll love earning your master's in this field and will use it to its maximum potential to increase your career satisfaction and earning potential. Going back to school to earn your master's equips you with a solid foundation in financial knowledge and skills, as well as tools for thinking outside the box when needed to make sure you stand out from a talented, hardworking, and degreed crowd of candidates.
Let's take a look at some top jobs in the world of finance to see if anything stands out for you and helps you decide if now is the time to apply for an online master's program to help you achieve your educational and professional goals.
Financial analysts perform a broad range of tasks that include gathering data, performing data analysis, organization information, forecasting and predicting financial trends in the organization, making recommendations and decisions, and generating financial reports, PowerPoint presentations, and Excel spreadsheets. These professionals work in various environments performing vital financial services and activities for insurance carriers, professional scientific and technical organizations, credit companies and credit intermediaries, and securities and commodities foundations.
If you pursue this line of work, you might find that your brand of services is so essential that you'll need to travel around the country or across the globe to represent your organization or visit other branches for audits and other meeting scenarios.
The median annual salaries for a financial analyst position in 2020 came to $83,660, with the high-end topping out at $159,560. Additionally, the job outlook for financial analysts is expected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which comes at a faster rate, on average, for all occupations.
As the name suggests, financial managers perform a combination of leadership and daily tasks to help organizations thrive and meet short-term and long-term financial goals. Most importantly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they monitor and protect the financial health of an organization. In daily tasks, financial managers:
- Prepare financial statements and produce financial reports
- Monitor financial data and details to ensure compliance and legal requirements are met
- Supervise and support employees working on budgeting and financial reporting tasks
- Review financial reports to generate ideas to trim costs, save more, and increase profits
- Examine and analyze market trends to mine new corporate finance opportunities
- Plan for long-term financial goals and investment opportunities for the organization
There are different types of financial managers out there, so keep some additional titles in mind when you start searching for this role:
- Credit manager
- Financial officer
- Cash manager
- Risk manager
- Portfolio managers
In 2020, the median annual pay for financial managers was a healthy $134,180. The lowest 10% of earnings in this area were less than $70,830, while top earners made more than $208,000. If you're seeking a profession with high salary potential, you might put this one high on your list.
A financial advisor works with customers, for a fee, offering financial advice and guidance on matters like investments and retirement plans. Additional services financial advisors provide include:
- Investment management
- Real estate planning
- Tax planning
- Portfolio management
- Debt management
- Insurance product recommendations
As Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring and members of Generation X aren't far behind, this field is likely to continually increase in demand over the next few decades as retirees try to set themselves up for enjoyable and relaxing Golden Years. In 2019, the median salary for this role was $87,850.
Chief Financial Officer
An organization's chief financial officer (CFO) functions as the senior executive in charge of all financial actions and operations in an organization. A CFO's duties include financial planning, monitoring and tracking cash flow, and analyzing the business's financial weaknesses and strengths. Like a controller or treasurer, the CFO manages the accounting and finance departments in an organization, ensuring financial reports are conducted according to policies and are ultimately accurate.
According to Payscale, the national median salary for this essential role comes at $136,152.
When businesses need to raise capital, they enlist the top investment bankers to help achieve their goals. Investment bankers work within the organizations and work with various teams and executives to determine funding needs and devise a strategy to obtain those funds. These professionals might work in various sectors, including government, small businesses, large corporations, and other entities. Think of employees at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and those are investment bankers.
The average base salary for an investment banker role comes to $101,389 per year.
Commercial bankers provide crucial financial services to businesses and individuals. Some services offered include loans, credit, and payment services. Commercial bankers provide these services and more on the bank's behalf. With that in mind, these professionals need strong interpersonal skills and to feel comfortable handling money throughout the day. Commercial bankers are often bank managers for a single branch or series of branches.
The base salary for a commercial banker falls somewhere between $82,988 and $111,507, depending on education and experience.
Hedge Fund Manager
While a hedge fund manager can be a firm or an individual, let's discuss the role of an individual who makes investment decisions and supervises the daily operations of a hedge fund. Many financial professionals are lured to this field for the possibility of making quick and substantial money. The top hedge fund managers continually develop clear and well-defined investment strategies and often have competitive-to-cutthroat instincts.
The average base salary for hedge fund managers comes to $145,162, making it one of the higher-paying career choices in this field. Keep in mind that it's a high-risk and high-reward option.
Working as part of a venture capital firm, a venture capitalist invests money in startups and small businesses to build company equity. Venture capitalists want to help companies grow, but they also want a piece of the action in the long run.
This profession is tempting because the annual median salary is $190,547, according to Salary.com.
Earn Your Master of Science in Finance in Two Ways at JWU
When enrolling for your graduate program at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), you can follow one of two paths toward earning your Master of Science in Finance, both involve certification options. One certification track is for becoming a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP), and the other leads to certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Certified Financial Planner®
This certification offers a credentialed formal recognition of expertise in estate planning, financial planning, insurance, retirement, and taxes. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns, maintains, and awards this specialized certification to help foster expertise among financial professionals and ensure quality financial services for businesses.
To earn this recognition, you need to complete the CFP Board's initial examinations successfully. Much like other professionals, you'll need to attend annual continuing education programs to learn the latest industry trends and skills to sustain your expertise and renew your certification.
Chartered Financial Analyst
The CFA professional designation, owned and awarded by the CFA Institute, is globally recognized and respected for measuring and certifying financial analyst expertise. To earn this distinction, you must pass three levels of examinations that cover areas including ethics, accounting, money management, economics, and security analysis.
Are You Ready to Start Carving Your Path to Success in Finance?
If you're ready to start plotting the course to become an actuary, internal auditor, portfolio manager, or anything in the upper echelons of finance, you might consider pursuing your master's degree in finance to improve your odds of finding jobs you love and roles in which you can't wait to improve and grow.