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Published
Sep 2, 2022
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Updated
Sep 15, 2022

Is Finance a Good Career Path?

Lindsay Patton

We explore the pros and cons of working in the financial industry. Here's what you need to know about the industry outlook and potential career paths.

Our country runs on commerce, which is why finance is a good career path for many. Like all opportunities, there are pros and cons. If you’re someone who enjoys a flexible schedule, you may find that financial institutions are too rigid in their scheduling and in-office requirements. But, if you’re a person who enjoys structure and enjoys working with numbers and data, finance may be a good career path. 

Intro to the Financial Industry

In the financial field, there are multiple job opportunities, and as technology enhances what’s possible those opportunities continue to grow. From April to July 2022, the sector added an average of 6,594 jobs per month.

Finance is a large, broad industry that holds many opportunities. Bankers, venture capitalists, payroll managers, analysts and many other professionals call this industry home, and they work for companies, governments, nonprofits and individuals. 

Any adult that uses money on a daily basis has worked with a finance professional. They are the tellers that assist you at the bank, underwriters that help you secure a mortgage, and the accountants that make sure you get paid and organize your taxes. The industry is embedded in our culture and day-to-day lives, which means opportunities within it pop up in various ways. 

Finance is also a global industry, giving professionals an opportunity to work with people from other countries and learn about international currency and finance laws. But most importantly, all professionals in the field gain a deeper understanding of their own country’s rules and regulations—making it easier to manage their own finances. Many people choose finance as a career for this fast-paced, real world education. 

Financial Industry Historical Growth

Money is deeply linked to the human experience, and as our relationship with money has evolved, so have the professional needs surrounding it. Today, the United States Treasury drives the sector in our country. Introduced in 1789, its original intention was to finance the American Revolution. Since then, The Treasury has evolved based on the country’s needs. Today, The Treasury is in charge of printing and distributing money, managing government accounts, collecting taxes, enforcing laws, monitoring national banks and more. 

With technology advancing how we use money on a daily basis—credit cards, cryptocurrency, online banking and ecommerce are all examples of currency’s evolution—new jobs are regularly created to keep up. When we compare Q2 2021 with Q2 2022, we see that accounting and finance jobs are up 11 percent, while investment banking jobs are up eight percent. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the finance industry is expected to grow eight percent between 2020 and 2030.

Based on these recent trends, finance is a good career path for individuals looking for career growth and stability. 

What Careers Are in the Finance Industry?

Finance has an important role in society with many moving parts. To keep processes running smoothly, the finance industry employs millions in diverse roles. If you’re looking to break into the sector, there are plenty of entry-level positions that offer the necessary skills and experience to grow your career. 

While many jobs require a four-year degree in that specific concentration, there are plenty of ways to upskill without pursuing a degree. You can build your resume through hands-on work experience, webinars, certifications and courses. 

Below, we’ve broken down types of finance roles based on experience level. 

Entry-level careers

Getting in on the ground floor will give you access to information to expand your finance knowledge. 

Administrative 

If you are brand new to the financial world, an administrative role in a bank, accounting firm or other financial institution will help you get acquainted with how it runs. You will learn terms unique to the industry, as well as have access to knowledgeable professionals and the potential for promotion. 

Junior tax associate 

Junior tax associates ensure client tax returns are compliant with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They work with senior tax associates to give clients a smooth tax experience. Having higher-education experience is beneficial, but not necessary, to apply for a junior tax associate role. 

Mid-level careers

Once you’ve gained enough knowledge from an entry-level position, there are opportunities to grow into a larger role. 

Accountant 

Accounting is a well-known career path in finance, with many positions available in the field. Accountants oversee finances for organizations and individuals, making sure their clients are complying with the law. They manage payroll, client taxes, oversee budgets and more. 

Analyst 

Analysts study trends within the financial industry and create reports off those trends. They are often involved in risk assessment and work closely with budgets and loans. Clients turn to analysts for their knowledge and advice. 

Highly skilled careers 

When you amass enough knowledge, you are trusted to manage larger amounts of money and give expert advice to clients.  

Advisor

After you’ve gained a substantial amount of experience, you can start pursuing advisor roles. People trust advisors to make the right choices with their money, something that involves high expertise and client trust. Advisors offer advice on budgets, investments, mergers and acquisitions and more. 

Investment banker

Businesses and governments turn to investment banks to raise capital, execute mergers and acquisitions, and manage initial public offerings (IPOs). Investment bankers are individuals who serve as the go-between—they are experts in managing large sums and high-risk financial situations. 

>> Read More: Best-paying jobs in finance

Pros and Cons of Working in the Finance Industry

All industries carry pros and cons, and finance is no different. Even the most passionate workers have at least one task or responsibility that they’d rather delegate. What keeps them passionate, however, is having their job pros outweigh their job cons. 

Before going into any career, it’s good to look at it from a pragmatic angle, noting all positives and negatives, and assessing the job’s potential. Below are a few common pros and cons you will come across in the finance sector. 

Pros

  • Familiarity with money
    A bonus to working in the finance industry is that the skills directly translate to your personal life. By gaining financial skills professionally, you are better able to manage your personal finances. 
  • Good pay
    The average finance salary is between $70,000 to $80,000, with opportunities to earn into the six figures. Most jobs include performance bonuses.
  • Diverse opportunities
    People and organizations will always need assistance with money management, which is why there are so many opportunities in finance. 

Cons 

  • You need to do well with numbers
    There is no way around it — numbers make up this industry. 
  • Tax season is intense
    There is a short window to do taxes. So between January and April, many financial professionals are slammed with tax-related work. 
  • There is limited flexibility
    Laws, procedures and office structure don’t leave room for much flexibility. Someone who prefers structure and rules in a role is more likely to thrive in finance. 

For some people, especially those that enjoy structure and fast-paced environments, those cons may not be that bad. Remember that every person is different and what doesn’t work for you may work well for someone else. 

Is the Finance Industry Right for You?

After reading through this information, you should have a better sense of what working in finance is like. If this sector is attractive to you, there are many ways to break into finance without heavy experience. 

Spend some time thinking about your job experience and how it applies to various finance roles. If your experience isn’t directly related to finance, highlight any jobs that involve money, numbers, organization or attention to detail. These are all very sought after skills to finance hiring managers and are important to include on your resume. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best way to search for financial jobs?

Job boards are a great way to see available opportunities, however, large ones like you see on LinkedIn, Indeed or Monster bring competition with them. Instead, seek out Facebook Groups, Reddit threads and niche platforms that have networking capabilities and post opportunities not visible to the mainstream public. 

Which finance jobs have the highest salaries? 

Like most industries, finance executive roles—chief financial officer, for example—come with the largest salaries, which average $400,000 a year. Overall, the average salary for finance workers is between $70,000 and $80,000 a year. 

Should I get a degree if I want to break into finance?

It depends on your aspirations. If you have your sights set on a Chief Financial Officer position, a degree offers the foundation needed to head toward that goal. However, if you prefer swapping school for the real world, getting an entry-level opportunity and working your way toward a bigger opportunity is an option as well.

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Lindsay Patton

Lindsay Patton is a journalist, adjunct professor, podcast host and digital communicator who specializes in business and career growth.

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