Job Profile - Financial Analysts

Job Description, Required Education and Job Outlook

Financial analyst using computers
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What Is a Financial Analyst?

Financial analysts work with financial investments. They are hired by individuals and businesses who need help making investment decisions about stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. They often analyze the financial situation of a business or individual prior to making recommendations about investment opportunities. These job duties typically require extensive knowledge of business and economic trends, including industry and geographical trends.

 

Financial Analyst Specializations 

Some financial analysts specialize in a particular area. Some of the most common specialists include:

  • Budget Analysts
  • Credit Analysts
  • Investment Analysts
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Analysts
  • Money Market Analysts
  • Ratings Analysts
  • Risk Analysts
  • Security Analysts
  • Tax Analysts
  • Wall Street Analysts

Career Advancement

With enough experience, financial analysts may become portfolio or fund managers. Portfolio managers oversee all of the investments for a company's portfolio. Fund managers, on the other hand, usually manage large investment portfolios for individuals. 

Minimum Education Requirements for Financial Analysts

A degree is a necessity for individuals who want to work as a professional financial analyst. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement. Although a general business degree may suffice, a degree in finance or a related area is often preferred.

Individuals who are interested in advanced positions or positions with a large amount of responsibility should earn a specialized master's degree or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Both types of degree programs will equip financial analysts with the knowledge they need to oversee large investment accounts. 

While enrolled in a business or finance program, aspiring financial analysts should take general courses in mathematics, accounting, economics, and finance as well as more specialized courses that focus on topics like stock investments, bond valuation, risk management, and financial analysis.

 

It should also be noted that financial analysts are typically licensed. A license can be difficult to obtain prior to employment since most licensing requires employee sponsorship. The licensing body for financial analysts is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Salaries for Financial Analysts

Financial analysts typically have high starting salaries when they graduate with a bachelor's degree or a master's degree compared to salaries for some other business majors. The median annual salary for financial analysts exceeds $80,000, according to the most recent numbers released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the highest pair analysts earn well over $160,000 per year. Learn more about the salaries for financial analysts. 

Job Outlook for Financial Analysts

The job outlook for financial analysts is better than the outlook for most occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting double-digit growth in the coming years. Financial analysts can improve their individual outlook with advanced degrees (like an MBA) or the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification from the CFA Institute.