Skip to main content

Is finance a good career path?

Published June 27, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    There are many different jobs in finance to explore as a new college graduate or even for those further along in their careers. The finance field includes jobs such as financial analyst, investment banker, loan officer, cost estimator, and many more.

    Finance roles often involve working with numbers and may require specific skills like understanding financial statements or the financial markets. However, the roles are varied and cater to various interests and abilities.

    Beyond assessing if it’s a skills match, aspiring financial professionals may want to weigh the industry’s demands and challenges to determine if it aligns with their long-term career and professional aspirations.

    Since no two careers in finance are the same, continue reading as we break down everything from earning potential to the different skills requirements needed in finance careers so you can start to assess if this seems like a good career path for you to pursue.

    What’s a career in finance?

    A career in finance refers to occupations where workers are involved in the day-to-day activities of running a business or in tasks that are related to money, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    It’s a broad career category, and specific jobs in this career path can range from investment banking to corporate finance to financial planning. Often, professionals choose a specialty within finance as they set out to grow their careers.

    How much can you earn in a career in finance?

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median annual wage for jobs in finance and business was $79,050 in May 2023 (the latest date data is available). This is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, which was $48,060 in May 2023.

    Remember, this figure represents the median for a range of finance roles. Salaries for finance roles will vary based on a range of factors, including your experience level, the role, the company, and even the geographic location of the role. That said, this data point is a starting point to consider as you research how much you may be able to earn in a career in finance and other types of careers.

    How do you know if finance is a good career path based on your skills?

    Across the spectrum of finance careers, you may find that there are a few common skills many finance jobs require.

    According to Harvard Business Review, some of these skills include:

    • Reading and understanding financial documents (balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and annual reports)
    • Analyzing statements (calculating financial ratios such as debt-to-equity ratio and current ratio)
    • Management and leadership skills (can you make decisions based on data?)
    • Financial forecasting (can you look at data to help predict a company’s financial future?)
    • Communication (can you explain financial concepts in a simple fashion?)

    It’s important to note that the skills needed may vary depending on which finance role you’re interested in. The above list is simply a sample of skills some financial careers may require.

    Seven fast-growing finance careers to consider

    When considering a career in finance, the sheer variety of paths available may feel exciting and overwhelming. Whether you’re interested in advising individuals on wealth management, managing risks for large institutions, or exploring the potential of emerging markets through venture capital, the opportunities are vast.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are seven career paths to consider in finance that are growing faster than average.

    1. Management analyst

    2023 median pay: $99,410 per year

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 10%

    Management analysts, also called management consultants, often advise companies on how to become more profitable. Those in these roles may analyze data such as revenue, expenditures, and employment reports to see how to reduce costs or drive revenue to boost a company’s bottom line.

    2. Financial analyst

    2023 median pay: $99,890 per year

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 8%

    Another finance career path you may consider is that of financial analyst. A financial analyst often evaluates financial data to help businesses and individuals make informed investment decisions. They may analyze market trends, financial statements, and economic indicators to forecast future financial performance and recommend strategies for achieving financial goals.  

    3. Securities sales agent

    2023 media pay: $76,900 per year

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 7%

    Another role you may consider exploring in finance is that of a securities sales agent, sometimes known as a stockbroker. Those in these roles buy and sell securities like stocks and bonds on behalf of clients. They may provide investment advice, manage client portfolios, and execute trades to help clients achieve their financial objectives.  

    4. Insurance sales agent

    2023 median pay: $59,080

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 8%

    Insurance sales agents sell various insurance policies, such as health, life, property, and casualty insurance, to individuals and businesses. They assess clients’ needs, provide policy recommendations, and assist in selecting coverage.

    5. Financial manager

    2023 median pay: $156,100

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 16%

    The job of financial manager is an umbrella role that can mean many different things depending on the exact role and the company the role is in. Those in these roles may work on financial reports, lead investments, and create financial plans for their organization.

    6. Financial examiner

    2023 median pay: $84,300

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 20%

    Financial examiners ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing financial institutions and transactions. As they do this work, they may review balance sheets, evaluate the risk levels of loans, and assess the overall financial health of companies, banks, and other financial entities to ensure they’re operating safely and within the law.

    7. Personal financial advisor

    2023 median pay: $99,580

    2022-32 growth rate projection for occupation: 13%

    Another financial career to add to your radar is that of a personal financial advisor. Personal financial advisors provide individuals with advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help them manage their finances. They may assess clients’ financial needs, develop personalized financial plans, and guide them in making informed decisions to achieve financial goals.

    Final thoughts

    At the end of the day, if you’re wondering if finance is a good career path for you, you may want to consult a trusted mentor or even shadow someone in a role you’re considering pursuing.

    If you’re a new college graduate or currently in college but exploring career opportunities for when you graduate, you may even consider applying for internships or co-ops in finance to gain exposure to the industry. Sometimes, the only way to know if a career path is for you is to try it out.