Love working with money? Stocks get your blood pumping? Numbers float your boat? A career in finance might be perfect for you. And, since we live in a capitalist society where money touches every area of life, finance is a field where you can carve out a niche — and bring down a nice salary — almost anywhere.
Finance degrees are one of the most common paths for good reason: they're designed to teach you practical financial skills, give you a background in economic theory and develop your communication and leadership skills, all of which are important for finance jobs. Read on to see what kinds of careers are perfect for finance majors.
As a financial analyst, you'd be checking out trends in the market and using your best judgment to predict which stocks, bonds and other investment funds will be profitable. You'd help clients (both businesses and individuals) assess the risk of certain investments and work with them to decide where they should put their money for the kinds of returns they want. In exchange, you take a small cut. These small cuts can add up over the course of a year — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the median annual salary of financial analysts at $85,660.
Financial managers typically work for larger corporations, government agencies or non-profits. They're the ones who keep the financial ship afloat and headed in the right direction. They'll produce financial reports, analyze and balance the flow of capital and design strategies to help companies meet their long-term goals. That might mean finding investment opportunities that will help a business grow or it may mean cutting the spending and refocusing priorities to rescue a company from the clutches of bankruptcy. According to the BLS, financial managers brought home a median salary of $127,990 in 2018.
Personal Financial Advisors
Personal financial advisors take a holistic approach to finances, helping individuals develop spending plans, advising them on investment opportunities and guiding them with retirement decisions. A client might come to a personal financial advisor to save for a college education for a son or daughter, or they might want to diversify their portfolio of investments to minimize risk. Many of these professionals run their own advisement companies and some get licenses to sell commodities like bonds, annuities, stocks and insurance. The salary they command depends largely on their skill in the business because they only eat if their client makes money. That said, the BLS reports a median annual income of $88,890.
Think you've got a great eye for how much things cost? There's a career for that. Cost estimators do exactly what the name implies: they look at projects and determine how much they'll cost. These projects could include constructing a building, developing a new consumer product or launching a new service. You'd be responsible for understanding how much supplies, labor and time it would take to see the client's vision come to fruition. As you're analyzing costs and timelines, you'll also be asked to find ways to cut down on prices while still maintaining quality and safety, which adds an element of creativity to the job. Here's the salary estimate for cost estimators — $64,040.
Loan officers use a person or company's financial health to determine if it's worth the risk to loan money to them. Some specialize in one area like auto loans, commercial loans or mortgages. If they approve the loan, they'll oversee the process of getting it into the borrower's hands, including making sure all the bases are covered when it comes to taxes and federal regulations. The salary for loan officers comes in at $63,040 per year.