Finance Salary and Job Outlook

Finance salaries are as large as the industry itself. Read on to see what you might earn in a finance career.

Median Annual Salary

finance salary and degree programs

Finance is the lifeblood of the business world. Raw materials aren't processed, factories aren't built, goods aren't shipped and customers aren't satisfied unless the money that makes it happen is present at the right time and place. It’s an understatement to say that the finance industry is large, diverse and incredibly important; people in finance careers are the people who create, broker and track nearly every monetary transaction.

Here are some statistics on salaries, job growth, and employer types for finance careers.

Take a look at some of the salaries for popular careers in finance:

Finance CareerMedian Annual Salary*
Actuary $93,680
Financial Manager $109,740
Financial Advisor $67,520
Investment Banker $71,720
Financial Analyst $76,950
Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents $71,720

 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What is my earning potential?

Almost any finance job will bring you above average finance salaries. And, if you are willing to put in the time and effort—sustaining a fair amount of risk and pressure and performing well in your position—a finance job just might make you rich.

While financial advisor careers sit at the lower end of the finance industry's salary spectrum, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growing demand for the job. The investment banking field is most competitive and subsequently provides skyrocketing salaries, but these jobs are mostly restricted to major banking centers, such as New York or Los Angeles, and demand exceedingly long hours. Corporate finance jobs sit mid-range, with compensation primarily tied to factors such as the amount of individual responsibility.

Is there demand for this career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for finance careers will vary by the area of finance in which you choose to specialize. The recruiting firm, Robert Half International, says that while general unemployment remains high, university-degree holders with specialized skills in areas such as financial analysis will fall well below the national unemployment average. Robert Half’s 2014 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Careers notes that financial analysts and business systems analysts are in high-demand, and that entry-level hiring is also thriving as employers strive to hire people who will grow with the company.

What is the job growth for the field?

Take a look at how some of the finance occupations compare as far as job growth:

Job Outlook Comparison Through 2022

  • Actuary—26 percent, faster than average
  • Financial Manager —9 percent, slower than average
  • Financial Advisor—27 percent, much faster than average
  • Financial Analyst —16 percent, faster than average
  • Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents—11 percent, about as fast as average

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook

How much competition will I face for a job?

Ironically, though the job market is a rough place at the moment, employers are desperately in need of young, talented financial advisors. In their article titled “One of the Fastest-Growing Careers is in Desperate Need of Young Talent,” Forbes asserts that one financial job that’s remained secure and increasingly relevant in today's market is the financial advisor. This is because Baby Boomers are approaching retirement and need help preparing for a financially secure future, mainly, and also because the average finance advisor currently working is 50-years-old and nearing retirement as well.

This opens the door for young talent. While other specialties within the finance umbrella may not fare as well, and still be an intensely competitive environment, those pursuing a financial advisor position may find that they are more sought after than seekers, especially if they are compliance clean and can generate revenue for their employer.

What kind of companies hire finance workers?

Here are the most common places where finance professionals can be found according to the BLS:

Financial Advisors

  • Self-employed private practice – 20 percent
  • Banks, financial institutions, credit agencies – 21 percent
  • Securities and commodities, brokerage houses – 19 percent
  • Insurance carriers – 4 percent

Finance Managers

  • Finance and insurance companies – 28 percent
  • Management of companies – 10 percent
  • Professional and technical services – 10 percent
  • Manufacturing – 8 percent
  • Government offices - 8 percent

Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents

  • Securities, commodities and brokerage houses (online and traditional) – 39 percent
  • Depository credit intermediation – 29 percent

How do I advance in my finance career?

For actuaries, passing a series of professional level exams called actuarial exams is the key to getting ahead in your career. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) administer these exam systems. Those who attain fellowship status may supervise other actuaries or offer guidance to senior management. Those who specialize in risk management may become a chief risk officer of chief financial officer of a company.

For financial advisors, certifications are critical in order to move up the career ladder. The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification may enhance an advisor's reputation and consequently reap new clients, which is essential for success in the field. Earning a master's degree in finance may also help promote an advisor's chances of moving into upper management positions within a company, or give credibility to a private practice.

<Back to Finance Job Description                Next: Finance Degrees>