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Finance Careers - Find the Highest Paying Jobs in Finance

Updated on June 4, 2012

The financial industry offers challenging, diverse and lucrative career opportunities for self-motivated, diligent candidates. Change is constant in the field of finance careers, requiring continued education in technology, government regulations and the globalization of the marketplace.

In this article you will find outlines of available finance careers, including potential paths for advancement, general salary information and educational requirements. If you do not have a 4-year degree under your belt just yet, there is a section towards the end, which covers finance careers with flexible educational requirements.

Evaluate your career options, choose a direction and know exactly what you want to accomplish. Employers select highly ambitious and efficient people to join the ranks and those who are most successful in the industry are focused on their professional goals from the start. Research the career possibilities and the steps involved in reaching your desired level of accomplishment and continually prepare through formal education and personal study.

Geographical Considerations for Finance Careers

If you are interested in accounting, insurance underwriting, or becoming a personal financial advisor, you will likely find opportunities nationwide. Various careers in finance such as stock / commodities brokers, securities analysts and portfolio or mutual fund managers will require you to live in major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago, London or Tokyo. It is important to consider this when planning, goal setting and designing your course of study.

International Finance Career

international Finance Careers
international Finance Careers

Finance Careers

Financial Services Brokers

Also called stockbrokers, securities sales representatives or account executives, they work to represent individuals or organizations that wish to buy and sell stocks, bonds and other financial products. Financial services brokers analyze companies offering stocks and advise clients on investment strategies. The most important aspect of this position is developing a client base with which to work. A 4-year college degree is desired for this position, but not always required. Brokers must pass the Series 7 Examinations in order to gain licensure and to register with NASD. Brokers work in brokerage firms across the country, with the largest opportunities being in New York City and other major financial centers worldwide including Chicago, London, and Tokyo.

Depending on skill, brokers may advance quickly, and may become branch managers, or partners in their own firm. This is a commission-based career, so salaries can be vastly different. Average salaries are between $50,000 and $75,000 annually, not including bonuses.

Commodities Broker

A commodities broker, also known as a futures commission merchant, carries out sales and purchases of commodities for traders and customers. Brokers work either in a brokerage house or on the floor of a commodities exchange. They work on a commission basis for conducting and completing trades.

There are no formal educational requirements for this career, although a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field is always preferred. Licensing is required. A broker must pass the Series 3 Examinations in order to satisfy legal registration requirements of federal, state and industry agencies. A broker should possess a combination of research and money management skills, along with a stable and assertive personality that can withstand working in a volatile environment.

A successful broker can advance from simply executing trades to become a full service broker or a commodity-trading advisor. The average salary of a commodities broker is approximately $70,000 - $90,000 annually. These numbers do not include bonuses, which can substantially change a brokers income level.

Financial Managers

Financial managers design and direct investment and cash management strategies, and oversee financial reporting for their organization. Financial managers can be employed in different positions, such as controller, finance officer, credit or cash manager, and international banking manager or risk manager. They may be influential in mergers and global expansion or other related finance projects.

The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, economics, or accounting. Many employers seek candidates with a master’s degree in one of these specialties. The exception in these requirements is in banking. Banks often fill branch management positions by promoting employees, such as loan officers, from with in their existing organization.

There are also professional certifications that can be obtained, which is helpful for advancement in this highly competitive field. The median salary for a financial manager is $92,000 annually, with the highest paid managers earning close to $150,000. Salaries fluctuate geographically and across industries. Financial managers in the securities and commodities field are the highest paid, while those employed by local governments earn the least.

Financial Analysts

Financial Analysts evaluate and study financial information, and provide investment recommendations based on their research. Additionally, they analyze a company’s financial statements, sales and tax rates to project earnings and determine value. Financial Analysts are also known as investment analysts, security analysts or ratings analysts. Banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and securities firms primarily employ financial analysts.

A bachelor's degree is required and a master's degree or professional certification (such as CFA or Chartered Financial Analyst) is advantageous to career growth. Licensing may be required, depending on the position and specialty. Growth opportunities for experienced financial analysts include handling greater responsibilities by managing more important products and advancing to the level of portfolio or fund manager.

The median salary for a financial analyst is approximately $67,000 with the highest paid analysts earning more than $130,000 annually.

CPA Careers

Personal Financial Advisors

These advisors work with individuals to assess a financial situation, make investment recommendations, and formulate a plan for long and short-term interests. They can assist with estate and retirement planning, provide tax advice, and develop strategies for saving for college. Some advisors also sell life insurance. A large portion of a personal financial advisor’s time is spent on marketing and sales tasks to establish a client base, and therefore increasing their income.

Strong communication skills are needed to effectively assist clients in comprehending financial markets. A bachelor’s degree is strongly preferred, but not always a necessity. Licensing is required to advise on securities investments and insurance sales. A professional designation, such as Certified Financial Planner is also helpful for advancement. Advancement opportunities include working with a larger client base or moving to a management role. The median income is $67,000, with the highest paid financial advisors earning over $145,000 annually. These salary estimates do not include self-employed personal financial advisors.

Loan Officer

The majority of loan officers work for commercial banks and savings institutions. A loan officer guides a client through the entire process of applying for a loan, from the initial information gathering to setting up a repayment schedule. Loan officers sometimes function as salespeople, and usually specialize in business, commercial, mortgage or consumer loans. A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field of study is usually required and additional training or experience in sales and banking is advantageous. Yearly earnings will fluctuate with the number of loans generated.

Insurance Underwriter

An insurance underwriter considers a wide variety of factors to determine the risks involved in an insurance application, and whether that risk is acceptable or will likely result in a loss. A bachelor’s degree is preferred (with concentrations in finance or law) for these types of positions and continuing education credits are necessary for advancement. Candidates must possess strong communication skills and be proficient at using related technologies. Opportunities for advancement include senior underwriter and management positions. The average salary is $52,000, with the highest paid underwriters receiving annual salaries over $92,000.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts estimate the financial needs of their company or organization and analyze and develop a budget accordingly. They evaluate ways to increase profits by efficiently distributing available funds. They may be involved in the implementation of the budget, the analysis of related policies and exploration of alternative funding.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for this position, but many employers now prefer a master’s degree. Close to half of budget analysts employed in the U.S. work for the government on a federal, state or local level. Many entry-level employees will have extensive training, both on the job and in a classroom environment. Opportunities for advancement can be expected within 1-2 years to an intermediate level, and with additional experience, to the senior level.

High ethical standards are a requirement for these positions due to the confidentiality of financial information. Budget analysts often work with significant time restraints.

The median salary for budget analysts is $62,000, with the highest paid positions earning $93,000 or more per year.


Actuaries assess risks and create policies to minimize the financial impact of such risks to the company. Pension actuaries evaluate and report on the financial soundness of pension plans. Actuaries are employed primarily, but not exclusively in the insurance industry. Actuaries are also employed in the financial service industry to assist in pricing securities offerings and devising investment tools.

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics, finance or statistics or a related field is required. Additionally, actuaries need to pass a series of exams for certification.

Advancement as an actuary will depend greatly on performance record, in addition to the number of examinations passed. Possible advancement tracks include management and executive level positions, like Chief Risk Officer or Chief Financial Officer . Entry level actuaries earn between $55,000 and $70,000 per year, while high level actuaries can earn as much as $150,000 annually.

Accountants and Auditors

There are various specialties within the accounting field, including management accountants, public accountants (also known as external auditors), government auditors and accountants, tax accountants and internal auditors. General responsibilities include analyzing financial data, ensuring efficient and accurate record keeping and preparation of financial documents. Accounting plays a major role in management decision-making, by providing financial information that has been carefully analyzed and reported with recommendations.

Accountants are employed in essentially every corporation and organization in the country. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a closely related field of study. Licensure and certification is often necessary for advancement.

Salaries vary according to experience and specialty, with entry-level accountants earning between $35,000 to $50,000 annually. Accounting managers and directors can earn between $100,000 to $210,000 annually.

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Finance Careers Without a Degree

If you are interested in a finance career, but are lacking a 4-year degree, there are still many opportunities available to gain experience in this field and advance your career. A higher level of education is always desirable, but the following positions are flexible in their requirements.

Brokerage Clerk

Employed by commodities and securities firms and banks, brokerage clerks support brokers in processing transactions, taking phone calls from clients and maintaining records on client accounts. Some firms may offer on the job training or formal training classes and may assist a clerk in preparing for exams to get a series 7 license. Licensing will make an employee more valuable to the firm, and allow for advancement to a broker position. A brokerage clerk should have strong sales and customer service skills, be comfortable working under pressure and have an aptitude for numbers.

The median salary is $36,400, with the highest paid clerks making more than $57,000 per year.

Bookkeeping, Auditing and Accounting Clerks

Clerical positions are available in various types of businesses, providing ample opportunities for financial record keepers. Some of the tasks performed by bookkeeping and accounting clerks include maintaining accurate records, tracking accounts payable and receivable and profit and loss reporting. Auditing clerks verify records of transactions performed by other employees, to ensure efficiency and accuracy.

A clerk in this field must be a proficient in use of spreadsheets, although many businesses offer on the job training. A minimum educational requirement of a high school diploma is necessary and some college will always be preferred. An associate’s degree may be required in some situations. Experience in a related job or working in an office environment is helpful as well.

The average salary for an accounting clerk is approximately $30,600 with the highest paid earning $46,000 annually.

Credit Checkers, Authorizers and Clerks

These positions are generally concerned with verifying credit and authorizing and processing credit requests from consumers or small businesses. Additionally, they update credit information for credit reports. An experienced clerk with proven abilities may move into a supervisory or management position. A high school diploma is usually the basic requirement, but a familiarity with computers and good communication skills are helpful. Many organizations will provide training. The average salary is approximately $25,000 annually.

Claims Appraisers, Examiners and Adjusters

Claims adjusters and examiners authorize payments, investigate claims filed, and negotiate settlements with policyholders. Insurance companies and firms that specialize in adjusting and appraisals are the largest employers for these positions. Claims are investigated by interviewing the claimant and any witnesses, consulting official records from hospitals and law enforcement authorities or inspecting damage. Adjusters, examiners and appraisers usually have an area of specialty, such as auto, health, property or life insurance.

Many employers prefer to hire college graduates, but it is not a strict requirement. Annual earnings vary greatly in this profession. Median salaries are approximately $43,000 with the highest earning close to $70,000 annually.


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    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 4 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Excellent information on jobs in the finance industry! May I ask your source for income pay ranges? Thank you.

    • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

      Deepak Chaturvedi 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Good hub with full of info about finance related jobs.These keys might be helpful for those who seeking careers in this field. Thanks to share, booted it up and shared.

    • profile image

      doodlehead 4 years ago

      Thanks for putting in the additional finance career resources. This is very helpful. I have been in financial services for 30 years with a BA and am only just now completing a master's in finance. It is a field I have never grown tired of.

    • profile image

      timothy r 4 years ago

      Thanks Amy... your information was very useful.

    • dicaslotofacil profile image

      dicaslotofacil 5 years ago

      Great article I have a better view now

    • profile image 5 years ago from upstate, NY

      I have a BA in Economics but have never used it in the last 25 years, I've been a house painter for most of that time. I live in upstate NY and Albany is 40 miles away but I would commute if I thought I could land one of these good entry level financial jobs. I know the big cities have most of the jobs but I hope there's closer jobs than that! If you have any advice, I'd appreciate it.

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Hey there Amy Jane, a couple of additions. You mentioned the Budget Analyst title, but there are several options within Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). A Budget Analyst is among the lower levels working in FP&A. In large organizations you would expect to find a hierarchy of analysts, mangers, with a director or VP as leader. These titles would pay from $50k up into the $200s (plus bonus). Another Financial path is that of Treasury. Again you would expect to see positions ranging from analyst to corporate Treasurer. These positions generally pay slightly less than FP&A.

      Great Hub!

    • profile image

      Koteswar 5 years ago

      very much Informative, thank U :)

    • profile image

      Nazanin 5 years ago

      thank you for your useful site, I worked 12 years in a private bank in my country,and I was Assistant manager for 6 years,i am 34 years old now i decide to work and study in USA banks, I think finance Analyst or finance management is perfect adjustment, I would like to know your advice!!!!!

    • profile image

      Clerk education and job requirements 5 years ago

      This is the unique stuff worth sharing. thanks for this information.

    • profile image

      fifthliz 6 years ago

      Thanks for the info. Now I need opinions/advice...

      I am currently pursuing a degree a finance. My goal is to head to graduate school and become a private banker. My dilemma? I am struggling in my corporate finance class. I have a B in class, but it has been difficult for me (and I know my finance professor doesn't think I would do well in the finance world). Should I keep on going? I really, really, really want to continue working towards my finance degree, but if there is a good chance I will not be good at it, I may as well get out now. Thanks!

    • StaceyD profile image

      StaceyD 6 years ago

      well put together, given me a few idea's

    • Matt Hagens profile image

      Matt Hagens 6 years ago from New York, New York

      This is a good list too of the highest paying jobs in the US

    • profile image

      audalex 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is a very interesting read and I found it to be very informative since I aspire to pursue a career in Finance. Thanks very much for this wonderful article!

    • profile image

      markr75 6 years ago

      Nice post. In my experience finding a job in finance has always been a challenge. Especially now when competition is fierce with a record number of graduates compete with each other in an increasingly limited job pool.

      In my experience recruiters are increasingly using Reasoning or Aptitude Tests to select the ideal candidate.

      Taking practice tests on sites such as can help in the days leading up to a real test, as job seekers will know what to expect and learn how to approach questions quickly and accurately.

      By practising I managed to land a job I actually wanted although it took patience and involved several interviews. It's worth putting some effort into practising the tests to get that job.

    • stefanwirawan1 profile image

      stefanwirawan1 6 years ago from Malaysia

      what a great hub especially for me who just looking for information in finance

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks ,Great hub

    • Alexzander profile image

      Alexzander 6 years ago from web

      Thanks for the hub

    • AnkushKohli profile image

      AnkushKohli 6 years ago from India

      I am searching about financing and come across to this hub.. These finance careers are getting tougher and tougher to find right now.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Sure. Glad you found it helpful!

    • anna.smith profile image

      anna.smith 6 years ago from Germany

      Thanks for the hub. Very useful article.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      I think you have a great outlook on the future of finance careers Ampv! It is the type of field where it helps if you are passionate about what you are doing. And the opportunities are changing and increasing rapidly. Good luck to you! :)

    • profile image

      AmpV1223 6 years ago

      Great article.I am studying finance and although there may be far less opportunities in this field,I believe it takes more than the prize of future wealth to succeed.If you are passionate about your chosen field then wealth will come in abundance later.Don't be deterred by the current economic situation.Go hard in school,making contacts and gaining real world experience and everything will fall into place.Thank you Amy for the information in this article.

    • profile image

      Alex 7 years ago

      Advice for students. Unless you have good connections in the business world, I would recommend staying out of finance in the academic world. Finance has become vastly overpopulated since the 90s when it promised a wealthy career. The fields of science and medicine lost great talent because of these promises. I know this article was written two years ago, but the competition now is just overwhelming, it seems. My advice to those in school is: Don't correlate intellect to a successful career in finance. Your connections and your prestige are two important factors that I've found very handy in my career thus far. Another piece of advice: Treat finance as a minor. Focus on another area. That will definitely give you the leg up.

    • profile image

      gina 7 years ago

      I am in the university to study accounting but now an Interesting to study finance. But a need some information about finance. I am a little confuse sto study accounting or finance. can you give some advice

    • debt-management profile image

      debt-management 7 years ago

      Some cool tips, thanks. With training at the right university a career in finance can really pay off (:

    • profile image

      Blair Stover 7 years ago

      This is a great reference for students who are finance majors that haven't decided specifically which route to take.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks, all,for the comments and sharing this hub!

    • profile image

      Finance Train 7 years ago

      For risk management, you can opt for Financial Risk Manager (FRM) Exam, or Professional Risk Manager (PRM) Exam. They both qualify you as risk managers.

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Those good with numbers and analysis could really prosper a career in finance.

    • Chris Fletcher profile image

      Chris Fletcher 7 years ago

      Agree, great info for students. Passing this along to some job hunters out there. Thanks for the tips!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you all for the comments and thanks Chris for the resume building tips!

    • Majid Ghauri profile image

      Majid Ghauri 7 years ago

      awesome information....thanks for sharing with us

    • Chris Fletcher profile image

      Chris Fletcher 7 years ago

      Packed with good info, thanks! Hint: ResumeRabbit and other employment resume publishing sites can help a lot, too. Blast your resume out there. Did that, and companies still call years later :)

    • profile image

      vhwang7 7 years ago

      Thanks so much for the International Finance Career video. I really identified with the interviewee because I didn't like mathematics so much despite the fact that I am pursuing a career in finance. It's very encouraging. Thanks again amy jane!

    • projectfinancing profile image

      projectfinancing 7 years ago

      People with good financial backgrounds could really have a good career waiting on them...especially nowadays, the market is badly in need of people in finance.

    • ziamae85 profile image

      ziamae85 7 years ago

      I am gathering and searching about financing and come across to this hub...Very informative! thanks...

    • profile image

      First Time Home Buyers 7 years ago

      Brilliant posting........It is very informative."there is great opportunity in finance to build a career"

    • writerguy88 profile image

      writerguy88 7 years ago

      very helpful and interesting thanks

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great content for a hub. I'll bookmark this one for later...

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      I agree, Mitch, that some of these jobs are changing, but a degree in finance will always be of value in the marketplace!

    • Mitch King profile image

      Mitch King 8 years ago from Wilsoville, OR, USA

      The current economic times are reshaping these jobs in finance, but they will always be needed professionals.

    • profile image

      Russ 8 years ago

      great hub Amy. Lots of useful information. This site helps employers match job seekers and visa versa...

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you Barry! I spent a tremendous amount of time researching this in an attempt to put together a comprehensive hub covering finance careers. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 8 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is literally the best Hub I have read !

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for the additional career information. Account Executive's certainly have the potential to make a great living, but I do think it requires a "people person" personality to be successful!

    • profile image

      Mortgage Loan Modification 8 years ago

      Great website links for finance jobs. Another job to consider is Commercial Mortgage Broker / Account Executive. AE's typically work 20-30 hours / week and are usually in the field visiting mortgage brokerages signing up new accounts and (hopefully) answering questions on bank guidelines and making sure files are processed and typically make between $50k-$140k depending on territory and accounts, good Commercial Mortgage Brokers will close 2-4 multi-million $$ deals per year and make anywhere from low to mid six-figs to $1 mil.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you C.Whitaker! My intention was to offer a complete overview of careers in finance. I'm glad to hear that you found it to be accurate.

    • C. Whitaker profile image

      C. Whitaker 8 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      You're an excellent writer, very accurate, relavent information, especially for me because I just got my 4 year degree in finance. Keep up the good work!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks - I'm glad you found this helpful!

    • profile image

      Loan Modifications help 8 years ago

      I wish I had read your page before. It is very nicely organised and written. Thanks

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks sophieqd!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks vonowen, I hope you do pass this info on to your friends heading for finance careers.

    • samuilgr8 profile image

      samuilgr8 8 years ago

      Heyyyyyyyy, good information....!!

    • vonowen profile image

      vonowen 8 years ago from USA

      your hub is really interesting amy. It is very informative.. I guess I have to pass this hub to my friends who are taking finance in college. I think this will be very helpful to all of them. Nice post indeed!


    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      You're welcome, Kalvin! Glad this was helpful to you.

    • profile image

      Kalvin 8 years ago

      thanks for post it's great information for me.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks to you both!

    • profile image

      Finjobs 8 years ago

      Thanks for the hub. Very useful article.

    • Team Beachbody profile image

      Team Beachbody 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Amy This is nice that you put in place ,good job

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Nancy!

    • nancydodds1 profile image

      nancydodds1 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Really its good information you provided. As iam searching for this now i got more information from your hub. Here i posted a hub on

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi John- Thanks for commenting. I think the financial industry has been impacted worldwide by the current crisis. A finance career may not be the easiest choice at the moment! Jobs in finance are getting cut down quickly, but there are always a few very solid areas to enter.

    • JohnKhoo profile image

      JohnKhoo 9 years ago

      A very good informatin and source. Sadly, Asia's salaries is not as high as financial development countries like you mentioned though. Adding that there is also some major impact on this industry after recent financial crisis, the salaries are not attractive at the moment.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks 02SmithA, I agree, the job market is tougher than ever! The financial industry is no exception, unfortunately.

    • 02SmithA profile image

      02SmithA 9 years ago from Ohio

      Good information amy jane! These finance careers are getting tougher and tougher to find right now!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      You are welcome. Glad you found it interesting:)

    • profile image

      crystal.cunning 9 years ago

      thanks for the amazing hub, it has so much info in it that im gonna have to come back. one of the fields that i was looking into was a financial consultant but anything with numbers is good!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for your comment, Jason. I agree, this is a view of opportunities in a normal, healthy ecomony, and not all of these positions will be desireable or profitable in the current situation. Accountants will generally always be able to find work easily, but some of the other positions will become far more competitive obtain.

      Career opportunities in the Asian markets is a topic that deserves deeper investigation, and could certainly be an entire article on its own.

    • Jason Stanley profile image

      Jason Stanley 9 years ago

      An excellent article showing the breath and depth of the field from a very positive perspective. It assumes an ongoing healthy economy which I am afraid is not the case. Our economy is in very bad condition due to a long term (60+ years) of accumulated debt that will take a number of years or financial disaster to reduce. When the inevitable happens and the economy begins to shrink, these jobs will become very hard to find. Hopefully I am wrong and these great paying jobs will remain on the scene.

      There is a light elsewhere. Countries like Vietnam, and Cambodia which have been under communist rule and the banking infrastructure was virtually nonexistent have a huge need for qualified banking professionals. If a person is willing to live as an expat (generally nice lifestyle) they can carve out a wonderful career in these places.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for reading, Prasadjain. I hope it will be helpful!

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 9 years ago from Tumkur

      Eloborate material Mrs.Amy. Much useful for youngsters.