What Can I Do with a Degree in Finance?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in finance. Find information on finance careers, salary, job outlook, and schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in finance.


The world of high finance has been showcased and glamorized in movies such as Wall Street and Boiler Room. Based on these depictions, it would seem that those employed in the profession enjoy a high standard of living and remarkable lifestyle that other envy. While it is true to say that finance professionals do indeed command generous salaries, much of the work performed by these individuals is quite mundane and, to some extent, routine. Although the specific duties of finance professionals will vary based on their specific area of specialization, most professionals working in financial management will be responsible for overseeing financial records, investments and the flow of cash in a business. Financial professionals can also work with individuals and businesses to create a strategy for wealth generation and profit maximization.

In addition to the fact that the work performed by financial professionals is somewhat routine, a review of jobs in this field also indicates that individuals employed in finance typically work long hours. Finance professionals typically work 50 to 60 hours per week. In addition these individuals are often required to travel to meet with clients and customers. While some of this can be exciting and fun, it is not as glamorous as what is commonly portrayed in the movies.


Finance is a broad field that can include a number of different types of jobs. For example, those with a degree in finance may choose to seek employment as controllers. These professionals have direct oversight of the preparation of financial reports for an organization. Controllers also work directly with regulatory authorities that oversee the finances of the organization. Individuals seeking a career in finance could also opt for career as a finance officer. The CFO or Chief Financial Officer of the organization is the highest finance position in the organization. Professionals pursuing this career path will be responsible for tying the financial strategy of the organization to its larger business goals. Another career option for those entering the field of finance is with regard to risk and insurance. Risk and insurance managers evaluate the potential problems that may be encountered by the organization. Evaluation of risk will provide an opportunity to secure insurance to protect the organization against loss.

Industry Salary Info

As noted earlier, salaries for finance professionals are quite generous overall. Professionals working in the field are expected to have at least a Bachelors Degree. Many obtain a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, enabling them to acquire higher salaries. Although salaries for finance professionals are high, the salary of the professional will be contingent on factors such as the size of the organization and the specific area of specialization. Median annual salaries for all finance professionals were $99,330 in 2008. Those at the top of the profession commanded salaries as high as $135,070. Professionals working in securities and commodity contracts commanded the highest salaries overall ($134,940), while professionals working in local government offices had significantly lower salaries ($78,650). In general, the salaries noted here for finance professionals represent the base amount that profession can receive. In many finance positions, professionals are able to acquire bonuses based on their performance.

Job Outlook

Over the next several years, job growth for finance professionals in all areas is expected to be average, e.g. 12 percent. In 2008, finance professionals help 539,300 jobs, most of which were concentrated in banks, insurance companies, finance companies and securities companies. Growth in the field will be fueled by changes in regulatory requirements that will make it necessary for professionals to have a clear understanding of government rules and regulations impacting financial transactions. Even though average job growth in the profession is expected in the coming years, competition for jobs in finance will be quite intense. High salaries coupled with the glamorization of finance careers have created a large group of students currently seeking finance positions. Professionals seeking entry level jobs will be able secure additional job opportunities through the acquisition of an MBA. Additionally, certification in management may provide the candidate with a competitive advantage in the job market.

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