(6.0 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||54,200|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#11|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#61|
Financial analysts often work in the cut-throat, fast-paced world of Gordon Gekko, the Wall Street character brought to life by Michael Douglas. They recommend to clients when to buy and sell investments by staying up to date on economic trends, business news, and company strategy. They also write reports explaining their analysis, share their expertise with colleagues who aren't financial experts, and sometimes communicate their perspectives to the public. Many work for financial companies, including those in the financial services and insurance industries. And as Hollywood portrayals of the field suggest, they work long hours: One in three put in between 50 and 70 hours a week.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial analyst positions are expected to grow by 23 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average for all professions. That means another 54,200 positions will open up. But competition for these jobs is still fierce, particularly for new analysts.
The paycheck is good. Median annual earnings for financial analysts were $75,650 in 2011, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning less than $46,300 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning $145,580, on average. The highest-paid in the profession work in Bridgeport, Conn., New York City, and San Francisco.
While a bachelor's degree (usually in a finance-related field) is required, many financial analysts also earn master's degrees in finance or business administration and take additional financial analyst courses. Many in the field opt to become certified financial analysts, and employers often sponsor various certification and licensing programs. You'll get a leg up by obtaining a certification, such as becoming a chartered financial analyst, or taking advanced courses in subjects related to your specialty. The ambitious can look forward to taking on larger responsibilities and advancing to supervisory positions. The best of the best may go on to become fund managers.
Manisha Thakor, a chartered financial analyst and former corporate financial analyst, says the financial services industry is changing quickly, which means the days of linear career paths are largely over. Her biggest piece of advice for aspiring analysts is to gain work experience while studying. "Something as basic as offering to work with an established financial professional for five to 10 hours a month can make all the difference," she says. Thakor adds that networking and building relationships in the field is also essential. "So remember to keep one hand in the books and one hand out shaking new ones," she says.