Financial Analyst Careers

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

Essential Career Information

2018 Median Pay $85,660 per year / $41.18 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2018 329,500
2018, wage of lowest 10 percent $52,540
Employment Change, 2018-28 +20,300
2018, wage of the highest 10 percent $167,420
Job Outlook, 2018-28 6% (As fast as average)
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree

Source: BLS

Alternate Job Titles


What Is a Financial Analyst?

A financial analyst is responsible for advising businesses and individuals on investment decisions. They analyze the performance of stocks, bonds, and other investments. Financial analysts may work as portfolio managers, risk analysts, or fund managers.

The average financial analyst salary exceeds $85,000 a year. This guide covers financial analyst careers, including job duties, education requirements, and career advancement opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the top three skills for financial analysts?

Above all, financial analysts need strong analytical, problem solving, and decision-making skills.

What does a financial analyst do?

Financial analysts recommend investment strategies, analyze financial data, and create written reports for clients. They also evaluate investment opportunities.

Is financial analyst a good career?

Yes; financial analysts benefit from an above-average salary of over $85,000 a year.

How do I become a financial analyst?

Financial analysts generally hold a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business, or economics. Pursuing professional certification can also help financial analysts secure employment.

What Does a Financial Analyst Do?

Financial analysts help businesses and individuals make investment decisions, analyzing the performance of investments to recommend stocks and bonds. Financial analysts also study business trends and evaluate financial data to understand the market.

Financial analysts need the following skills:

Financial analysts can specialize in several areas. Ratings analysts, for example, evaluate whether a company can pay its debts. Risk analysts evaluate potential risks in investment decisions, while sell-side financial analysts sell stocks and bonds to clients. Financial analysts who sell financial products must hold a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Financial Advisor vs. Financial Analyst

Financial advisors and financial analysts both analyze investment opportunities to recommend investment strategies to clients. However, financial advisors most frequently advise individuals on their savings goals, including retirement planning, while financial analysts often work for investment firms or other financial services organizations, advising businesses on investment strategies.

The education requirements and earning potential of financial advisors and financial analysts is similar. Both positions require a bachelor's degree, and the average financial advisor salary exceeds $88,000 per year.

Financial Analyst vs. Accountant

Financial analysts and accountants both work in finance and investment analysis. Accountants create financial documents, including tax records, budget plans, and accounting records. Accounting jobs offer specializations in areas like corporate accounting, public accounting, and auditing. A certified public accountant, or CPA, creates public financial records like tax documents.

While financial analysts project future investment returns, accountants work with financial reports to document earnings, taxes, and balance sheets. In many organizations, financial analysts and accountants work together to assess the value of businesses. Accountants often create the financial records that financial analysts use in valuation analyses.

Business Analyst vs. Financial Analyst

Business analysts assess an organization's procedures and recommend changes to improve efficiency and increase profitability. Business analysts focus on organizational strategy and procedures to make organizations more profitable, while financial analysts specialize in recommending investment strategies or finance decisions.

The average business analyst salary exceeds $83,000 per year with much faster-than-average projected job growth. Business analysts generally hold a bachelor's degree in business, management, or a related field.

Become a Financial Analyst

A bachelor's degree represents the entry-level education requirement for financial analyst jobs. Prospective financial analysts can major in fields like finance, economics, accounting, or business. A background in mathematics and statistics also benefits financial analysts.

Earning a master's degree can help financial analysts advance their careers. Financial analysts can also pursue professional certification to demonstrate their expertise. With experience, financial analysts can become portfolio managers or fund managers.

Associate Degree Programs

While a bachelor's degree remains the most common education requirement for financial analysts, an associate degree in finance, business, accounting, or a related field builds foundational skills for prospective financial analysts. Graduates with an associate degree can transfer into a bachelor's program to continue their education.

During an associate program in finance, learners study topics like accounting principles, financial statement analysis, and business administration. In addition to finance courses, students take general education courses in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, which build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Some programs may incorporate a business or financial analyst internship that allows students to work under the supervision of an experienced financial analyst. This training builds transferable skills that prepare students for financial analyst jobs.

An associate degree generally takes two years for full-time students to complete. The degree prepares graduates for titles like financial clerk, which carries administrative and financial record-keeping responsibilities.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A bachelor's degree represents the typical entry-level education requirement for financial analysts. Professionals with a bachelor's degree and work experience can advance into roles like fund manager or portfolio manager. Students considering a career as a financial analyst can major in finance, business administration, economics, or a closely related field.

During a bachelor's degree in finance, learners study topics like investment strategy, financial accounting, and financial markets. Many programs also incorporate business classes, including business statistics, managerial accounting, and strategic management.

In addition to business and finance courses, bachelor's students take general education coursework in mathematics, English, and communications. Electives in economics, statistics, and other analytical fields help finance majors strengthen their skills. Students may also complete a finance internship to build hands-on experience in the field.

A bachelor's degree generally takes four years for full-time students to complete. Transfer students with prior college credits or an associate degree can graduate in less time. Graduates qualify for entry-level financial analyst jobs.

Master's Degree Programs

A master's degree in finance or an MBA with a concentration in finance prepares graduates for career advancement. A master's degree positions financial analysts to move into leadership roles, such as portfolio manager or fund manager.

Master's in finance students take coursework on topics like corporate finance, financial econometrics, financial markets, and advanced corporate valuation. Many programs also offer leadership and management coursework as part of the program. Students may complete a financial analyst internship to strengthen their professional skills.

An MBA with a concentration in finance offers a greater focus on managerial skills, including organizational behavior, corporate leadership, and business law. The finance concentration offers courses on topics like international financial markets, advanced investment management, and advanced corporate finance.

Earning a master's degree typically takes two years, though some programs offer accelerated completion times. With a master's degree, finance professionals qualify for advanced roles in finance, including financial manager.

Professional Certifications

Many financial analysts pursue professional certification to showcase their expertise. Professional certification remains voluntarily, but many employers prefer a certified financial analyst for advanced roles.

Several organizations offer professional certifications. The CFA Institute offers the chartered financial analyst certification. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree with at least four years of professional experience and pass a three-part examination, which typically takes several years to complete. The examination covers portfolio management, investment analysis, and corporate finance.

The financial risk manager certification offered by the Global Association of Risk Management Professionals recognizes professionals who specialize in risk analysis. Candidates must demonstrate two years of professional financial risk management experience and pass a two-part exam to earn the credential.

Financial analysts must typically renew their certifications regularly, often by meeting continuing education requirements. Learn more about the top finance professional certifications.

Take the next step towards your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk