Before starting a master’s degree program, it’s important for prospective students to survey the career landscape and see where their hours of intensive study may lead. Fortunately, for those considering a Master of Science in Finance, a variety of positions are available to graduates with deep reserves of business and accounting knowledge.
The top jobs in finance for those with an advanced degree span a range of industries and specialties. Any business operating today needs team members who are comfortable handling advanced monetary matters, meaning there are many financial strategy and risk management roles available in the market. What you can do with a finance degree depends on your interests and professional experience, in addition to external factors such as employment outlook.
The following are four of the top jobs in finance that offer potential paths for prospective students to envision in their futures. From analysts to tax experts and risk managers, many professionals depend on strong financial skills to fulfill their responsibilities.
1. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Median Salary: $104,700
Growth by 2026: 8%
MSF graduates may choose to seek advancement within a company’s financial department. According to Deloitte, the CFO role has become more complex and high-pressure in recent years, as businesses have found their budgetary stability threatened by uncertain conditions around the world. Additionally, today’s CFOs must contend with scrutinous investors and new regulations that often represent inflexible milestones for organizations to reach. Keeping a business steady in such an environment depends on deep, intensive financial knowledge and experience.
While today’s CFO is grappling with high-speed demands and unclear conditions, the rudiments of the role haven’t changed. These executives still need to provide the final word on company budgets and financial reports. Additionally, they manage company investments, financing strategies, cost reduction, procurement, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for top executives at companies is approximately $104,700. Growth for such roles is proceeding on pace with the general expansion of the workforce at eight percent. Prospective financial leaders may find conditions vary widely between small and large businesses across regions and industries, but the connecting thread is a demand for financially savvy professionals who have skills in areas such as risk management and maximizing return on investment.
2. Financial Analyst
Median Salary: $84,300
Growth by 2026: 11%
An analyst’s value comes from his or her ability to guide investors to logical choices and away from unnecessary risks. In order to make the right moves, these professionals must rely on a thorough understanding of data. The role of a financial analyst is changing and exciting. The amount and speed of data under analysis have increased in recent years, as the latest tech developments have turned large amounts of unstructured content into fuel for advanced business intelligence models.
Numerous factors guide the world’s markets, and financial analysts must be ready to understand them, from the changes in domestic monetary policy to the shifts in international trade agreements. Additionally, employers seek professionals with knowledge of emerging markets and big data, two factors of growing importance for finance. Robert Half cited such expertise as part of the market’s desire for individuals who have advanced degrees, especially for senior analyst roles.
The skills and knowledge gained while studying for a financial degree, from the philosophical core of economics to the inner workings of the latest algorithms, are parts of an analyst’s toolkit. Their job responsibilities include assessments of company value via financial statements, investment opportunities, business trends, and archived financial data.
The demand for analysts is on the rise. According to the BLS, the number of all financial analyst roles available will grow 11 percent between 2016 and 2026. That figure is far ahead of the average seven percent growth for all types of occupations in every industry and shows the value associated with making safe and informed choices in investment markets. The median financial analyst salary was $84,300 in 2017.
3. Internal Auditor
Median Salary: $69,350
Growth by 2026: 10%
Businesses must constantly monitor the performance of their internal financial controls and risk management systems, meaning there is great opportunity for auditors. Having an internal auditing team allows organizations to take an unfiltered look at their performance across multiple variables and avoid potentially devastating instances of regulatory noncompliance or governance failures.
According to the Association of External Auditors, an internal auditor is responsible for examining multiple areas of a company’s financial well-being. Overseeing everything from information technology control processes to the accuracy of financial reports, auditors must always be alert for violations of internal codes, as well as local and international law.
Businesses understand the value of thoroughly auditing their processes and performing diligent accounting, according to the BLS. The government agency’s latest statistics indicate that companies will increase their contingent of accountants and auditors by 10 percent over the next decade, faster than the average seven percent expansion for all types of occupations in the workforce in general. Professionals providing auditing and accounting services earned a median salary of $69,350 in 2017.
4. Insurance Underwriter
Median Salary: $69,760
Growth by 2026: 15%
The insurance industry presents great potential for those who want to work in finance. The technical nature of assessing risk and suitability for insurance coverage is well-suited to master’s degree holders, who have spent years immersing themselves in practical financial knowledge. Underwriters perform data analysis via risk-assessment algorithms. Up-to-date expertise is essential in completing these tasks in accordance with company and regulatory standard. And, as with all corners of the financial world today, technology is playing an increasing role in policyholder risk evaluation. Underwriters use more software in their roles now compared to a few years ago.
A combination of financial competency, literacy with the latest software solutions, and keen judgment, all coupled with relevant experience, make an individual a great candidate for an insurance underwriter role. Using industry criteria, these professionals assess applicant risk by reviewing application documentation. For policies ranging from automobile to home to mortgage insurance, underwriters approve or reject potential policyholders to ensure their companies offer coverage without paying too many claims. Industry-specific certification can then be necessary for underwriters to further advance.
The BLS cited the health insurance industry as one segment that could see the greatest demand for underwriters, with 15 percent growth projected from 2016 to 2026. The median salary for an underwriter in 2017 was $69,760.
Turning Your Financial Education into a Fulfilling Career
Professionals interested in advancing or changing their career trajectories frequently seek an advanced degree. A Master of Science in Finance can point individuals toward varied and important career outcomes. Every business needs a competent team to manage its money, and MSF graduates make great candidates for these roles.
Earning an MSF at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business can aid prospective students pondering a future in a more advanced finance-based role. The university, which is accredited by the AACSB, provides professionals with the graduate-level knowledge and a management foundation to unlock new opportunities in their careers. To learn more about the suite of graduate business degrees offered at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, explore our program pages.