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How Much Do Finance Professionals Make?

businessman shaking hands with client
businessman shaking hands with client

Exact salaries depend on the financial job you choose and on factors such as your education and experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that median salaries in this field range from between $77,250 (auditors and accountants) to more than $131,710 (financial managers) annually.

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Those numbers are likely to grow over the next several years. The 2021 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Compensation Survey reports that financial professionals saw an average salary growth of 2.9% in 2020.

"Many people would be surprised to find out how well careers in financial services pay," says Greg Wilson, a chartered financial analyst with more than two decades of experience in the financial industry.

Salaries for Common Finance Jobs

Finance is a large career field with many job options. One of the biggest factors in your salary will be the specific job you pursue and the career path (such as management or teaching) you take. Salaries for some popular finance jobs are:

Career Median Annual Salary
Accountants and Auditors $77,250
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents $62,910
Financial Managers $131,710
Personal Financial Advisors $94,170

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook

What Factors Affect Your Salary?

There are multiple factors that can influence your salary as a financial professional. No matter what your specific job title is, factors such as your education, experience, certifications, and even industries you work can impact your paycheck.

"In my over 22 years of experience in financial services, there are some core factors that impact salary," says Wilson. "This includes being strong in financial skills, going after less traditional financial roles, and taking on risk and compliance positions."

Geography

The 2021 AFP Compensation Survey reports that on average, financial professionals earn the highest salaries on the west coast and lowest salaries in the midwest. However, your state and even the city you live in can make a big difference in your take-home pay. Keep in mind that many areas with higher average salaries are also areas with higher overall costs of living. That means that although your paycheck will be larger, it's likely you'll pay more for housing, utilities, food, transportation, and other essentials. It's a good idea to compare salaries against numbers such as average rent to get an idea of how far your money will go.

Below are finance career salaries by highest paying metropolitan area.

Accountants

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $100,400
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $98,920
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $98,300
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $95,880
Napa, CA $88,850

Budget Analysts

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $130,760
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $119,660
Manchester, NH $102,310
Portsmouth, NH-ME $84,550
Memphis, TN-MS-AR $81,120

Financial Analysts

Financial Managers

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $206,300
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $192,580
Greeley, CO $168,490
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $168,330
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $167,450

Personal Financial Advisors

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
East Stroudsburg, PA $162,150
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $150,580
Barnstable Town, MA $140,270
Portland-South Portland, ME $134,780
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $130,110

Degree Level

Advancing your degree will help you increase your salary in just about any career field and financial jobs are no different. In fact, the AFP compensation survey data shows that financial professionals with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) earn an average of  between 10 and 15% more than professionals with a bachelor's or associate degree. Those interested in a more specialized focus on finance might consider a Master in Finance. Factors such as your experience, industry, and region will still apply, but going for an advanced degree is always a great way to potentially boost your salary.

Experience

Experience can take you further up the financial career ladder and help you increase your paycheck. With on-the-job experience, you might see opportunities for raises, bonuses, or the ability to take on higher-paying roles. For instance, with a few years of experience, you might be able to transition from a financial analyst role to a financial manager role. This could significantly increase your salary and help your career grow.

Certification

There are multiple certifications available to financial professionals. Some of these certifications can influence your career and increase your salary. The AFP Compensation Survey shows that popular certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Treasury Professional (CTP), or the Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional (FPAC) may help increase your salary by 6-10%.

Financial services certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CPF) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) can also be potential salary boosters, says Wilson: "I have a CFA. That certification has three levels, and each time I took an exam to earn a higher level, I received a major pay boost."

Industry

Financial professionals are in demand in a wide range of industries. Any business with a budget needs a skilled professional to manage that budget. That means everywhere from tiny non-profit organizations to large industrial centers can employ financial professionals. Some industries have higher average salaries than others. For instance, the AFP Compensation Survey reports that financial professionals employed by energy and utility providers earn higher average salaries than financial professionals who work for government or non-profit organizations. Keep in mind that across all industries, factors such as your education, experience, certification, and job title will still make a big impact on your salary.


stephanie behring

Written and reported by:

Stephanie Behring

Contributing Writer

greg wilson

With professional insights from:

Greg Wilson

Chartered Financial Analyst