Financial Manager Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Financial Manager Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $139,790 Hourly Rate: $67.21

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Financial Managers in 2023

Best College Majors for Financial Managers in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Financial Manager:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening
20212031730,800854,00017%71300

Financial Manager Career Path Overview

The career path of a Financial Manager is one filled with opportunities for growth, development, and professional advancement. This rewarding profession involves overseeing the financial activities and operations within an organization, making it a crucial role in any business structure. Starting off in entry-level positions, individuals often begin their journey as financial analysts or accountants, gaining valuable experience and knowledge in financial management. As they progress, they can become senior financial analysts or accounting managers, where they oversee a team and make more strategic financial decisions.

Education Requirements

Most Financial Manager positions require a Bachelor's degree in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or a related field. However, more and more employers are seeking candidates with a Master's degree, particularly an MBA with a concentration in finance. Additionally, certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) can enhance job prospects.

Skills Needed

Financial Managers need a strong foundation in analytical skills as they are often required to review complex financial reports and forecasts. They also need excellent problem-solving skills to identify and address financial challenges and opportunities. Communication skills are equally important as they regularly present financial information to executives and stakeholders. Moreover, leadership skills are essential as they often lead a team of finance professionals.

Work Experience

Before becoming a Financial Manager, individuals typically need five or more years of experience in another business or financial occupation such as a financial analyst, accountant, auditor, securities sales agent, or loan officer. This hands-on experience is vital in understanding the complexities of financial planning and management.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of Financial Managers is projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As businesses continue to expand and regulatory complexity increases, the demand for financial management expertise will continue to rise.

Salary Expectations

As of May 2020, the median annual wage for Financial Managers was $134,180, according to the BLS. The highest 10% earned more than $208,000, indicating the lucrative potential this career path can offer.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is crucial in the field of finance due to the ever-evolving financial regulations and technologies. Many Financial Managers attend professional development seminars and workshops to stay updated with the latest trends and changes in the financial industry. Additionally, pursuing advanced degrees or professional certifications can significantly enhance career prospects and earning potential. In conclusion, a career as a Financial Manager can be highly rewarding for those with a strong interest in financial planning and business strategy. It provides ample opportunities for professional growth and a competitive salary, making it an attractive career choice for many.

Financial Manager Career Path Education and Training

To chart your course towards a successful career as a financial manager, it's essential to understand the education and training requirements. In today's competitive job market, employers often seek candidates who have a solid educational background and relevant work experience.

Education Requirements

The journey towards becoming a financial manager typically starts with obtaining a bachelor's degree. Preferred fields of study include finance, economics, accounting, or business administration. These programs provide foundational knowledge in business principles, financial management, economics, and statistics. As the role of a financial manager involves making critical financial decisions, it's beneficial to have a strong understanding of these areas. Some universities even offer specialized courses in risk management, investments, and corporate finance, which are particularly useful for future financial managers. After earning a bachelor's degree, many aspiring financial managers go on to pursue a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) or Finance. These advanced degrees can enhance career prospects by providing in-depth knowledge of financial analysis, market trends, and strategic planning. They also often include coursework in leadership and management, which is crucial for a role that often entails supervising a team.

Training and Work Experience

While education lays the foundation for a career in financial management, practical experience is equally important. Most employers require candidates to have at least five years of experience in a finance-related role before considering them for a managerial position. This experience can be gained through roles such as financial analyst, accountant, or auditor. In these positions, you'll acquire practical skills in analyzing financial data, preparing financial reports, and making financial decisions. You'll also learn about regulatory compliance and gain an understanding of various financial software and systems. Many companies also provide on-the-job training to help new financial managers understand their specific roles and responsibilities. This training may include learning about the company’s financial policies, working with different departments, and understanding the company's strategic goals.

Professional Certifications

Professional certifications can further boost your credibility as a financial manager. The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are two of the most recognized certifications in this field. These certifications require passing rigorous exams and demonstrate your commitment to the profession and adherence to high ethical standards. In conclusion, a blend of formal education, practical work experience, and professional certifications paves the way for a successful career as a financial manager. By investing time and effort in these areas, you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in this dynamic and rewarding field.

Financial Manager Career Path Progression

In the world of finance, becoming a Financial Manager is a coveted goal for many individuals. This career path offers a blend of analytical challenges, strategic planning and leadership responsibilities. The journey to becoming a Financial Manager, however, involves several stages of progression, each with its unique requirements and experiences.

Entry-Level Roles

The first step towards becoming a Financial Manager is typically through an entry-level role in finance or accounting. These could be positions such as a Financial Analyst, Accountant or an Auditor. In these roles, you'll be introduced to the fundamental aspects of financial management, including financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. They also provide you with an opportunity to develop essential skills like financial analysis, understanding financial statements, and using financial management software.

Mid-Level Roles

After gaining experience and expertise in entry-level roles, the next step in the Financial Manager career path is to transition into mid-level roles. These could include positions like Senior Financial Analyst, Finance Manager or Assistant Controller. In these mid-level roles, you'll take on more responsibilities and complex tasks. You'll be involved in strategic planning, making investment decisions, and risk management. It's also common to start managing small teams at this stage, which helps develop leadership skills essential for future progression.

Senior-Level Roles

Once you have significant experience and proven your capabilities in mid-level roles, you'll be ready to take on senior-level roles. These include positions such as Controller, Director of Finance or Chief Financial Officer (CFO). These senior roles demand high levels of strategic thinking, decision making and leadership. You'll be overseeing all financial operations within the organization, making key business decisions and guiding the company's financial strategy.

Education and Certifications

To progress along the Financial Manager career path, certain educational qualifications and certifications are usually required. A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is typically the minimum requirement. However, many employers prefer candidates with a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) or finance. Professional certifications, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, can also enhance career prospects.

Skills and Experience

Apart from formal education and certifications, the Financial Manager career path requires a set of specific skills and experiences. These include strong analytical skills to interpret complex financial data, excellent communication skills to convey financial information clearly, and strategic thinking for making sound business decisions. Experience in the finance industry is crucial, with most Financial Managers having at least five years of experience in roles such as financial analysis or accounting before stepping into a managerial role. To summarize, the Financial Manager career path progression involves starting from entry-level roles and gradually climbing up to senior-level positions. It requires a mix of formal education, professional certifications, industry experience and specific skills. Each step on this path offers unique challenges and opportunities for growth, leading to a rewarding career in financial management.

Financial Manager Career Path Specializations and Subfields

In the world of finance, there is a broad array of specializations and subfields. Each of these specializations requires unique skills and expertise. As a financial manager, you have the opportunity to tailor your career according to your interests and strengths. This section delves into various specializations and subfields available within the Financial Manager career path.

Corporate Finance

In corporate finance, financial managers work within organizations to optimize their financial performance and strategic decision-making. They are responsible for budgeting, forecasting, investment decisions, and managing capital structure. Corporate finance managers need a strong understanding of financial modeling, valuation methods, and corporate strategy.

Investment Management

Investment management involves managing assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and other securities on behalf of individuals or institutions. Financial managers in this field often work for asset management firms, hedge funds, or private equity firms. They must possess a deep understanding of financial markets, portfolio theory, risk management, and securities analysis.

Risk Management

Risk management is a specialized field that focuses on identifying, analyzing, and mitigating financial risks within an organization. Financial risk managers utilize statistical models and risk assessment tools to quantify risks and devise strategies to manage them effectively. This role requires strong quantitative skills and an understanding of financial markets and instruments.

Public Finance

Public finance deals with the financial activities of governments and public entities. Financial managers in this field manage tax revenues, public debt, public budgets, and government expenditures. They require a comprehensive understanding of public policy, fiscal legislation, and government budgeting processes.

Financial Planning

Financial planning involves helping individuals or organizations plan for their financial future. Financial managers in this field may work as personal financial advisors or within corporations to develop long-term financial plans. They must be proficient in tax planning, estate planning, retirement planning, and investment management.

Insurance

In the insurance sector, financial managers oversee the financial operations of insurance companies. They are responsible for premium pricing, claim reserve management, investment strategy, and capital management. This role requires a deep understanding of actuarial science, insurance law, and risk management.

Treasury

In treasury management, financial managers oversee an organization's cash flow, credit, investment, and assets. They manage liquidity risks and ensure that the organization has sufficient funds to meet its operational needs. Treasury managers must have strong cash management skills and a solid understanding of financial markets and instruments. Each of these specializations offers unique opportunities and challenges. As a financial manager, it's crucial to identify your areas of interest and seek further education or certification in these areas to enhance your career prospects.

Financial Manager Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market and outlook for financial managers are both robust and promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of financial managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Several factors contribute to this strong growth forecast.

Demand Driven by Organizational Growth and Complexity

As businesses expand, they require more sophisticated financial management to navigate the complexities of global markets, regulatory environments, and risk management. This calls for financial managers who can guide strategic decision-making and contribute to business planning. They are needed to analyze market trends, guide investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for long-term financial goals.

Increasing Regulatory Environment

The growing complexity of global business operations and an increasingly stringent regulatory environment have also driven demand for skilled financial managers. These professionals are often called upon to ensure compliance with laws and regulations affecting their organizations' financial practices, including tax laws, Securities and Exchange Commission requirements, and international financial reporting standards.

Role Evolution Due to Technological Advancements

The role of a financial manager has evolved significantly due to advancements in technology. Fintech innovations like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics are reshaping the finance industry. Today's financial managers need to be tech-savvy, as they are often required to use specialized software for tasks like budgeting, financial forecasting, and reporting. They must also be able to interpret complex data sets to inform strategic business decisions.

Increasing Importance of Risk Management

In an era of economic uncertainty and market volatility, risk management has become more critical than ever. Financial managers play a vital role in identifying and mitigating financial risks. They assess potential risks to their organization's profitability or existence, develop risk management policies and strategies, and ensure that these are implemented effectively.

Opportunities for Career Progression

The financial manager career path offers excellent opportunities for progression. With experience, financial managers can move into roles such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), finance director, or corporate controller. Some choose to specialize in a particular area of finance, such as risk management, cash management, or corporate finance, opening up further career opportunities. In conclusion, the job market for financial managers is robust due to factors such as organizational growth and complexity, an increasing regulatory environment, technological advancements, and the growing importance of risk management. This career path also offers significant opportunities for progression.

Financial Manager Career Path Salary and Compensation

Financial managers play a pivotal role in shaping the financial health and stability of organizations, which is reflected in their competitive compensation packages. The salary of financial managers varies significantly depending upon the industry, location, years of experience, and level of education.

Starting Salary for Financial Managers

At the beginning of their careers, financial managers often start as financial analysts or accountants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for financial analysts was $81,590 in May 2019.

Mid-Career Salary for Financial Managers

As professionals progress on their career path and gain more experience, they transition into financial management roles. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for financial managers was $129,890 in May 2019. However, this can vary widely based on factors such as company size and industry.

Senior Level Salary for Financial Managers

Senior-level financial managers who have demonstrated consistent success in managing an organization's finances can command higher salaries. The top 10% of earners in this field made over $208,000 annually in 2019 according to BLS data.

Additional Compensation and Benefits

Beyond base salaries, financial managers often receive comprehensive benefits packages which may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and performance-based bonuses. Some employers also offer stock options and profit-sharing plans as part of their compensation packages.

Future Salary Trends

The demand for financial managers is projected to grow at a faster rate than the average for all occupations over the next decade. This is due to the increasing complexity of global financial markets and regulatory environments. As demand for these skills grows, it’s likely that salary levels will continue to rise as well. Remember, the figures mentioned are averages and actual salaries can vary widely based on factors such as location, industry, company size, and an individual's level of experience and education. It's also important to note that the field of financial management is highly competitive, and standing out often requires a combination of education, experience, and networking.

Financial Manager Career Path Tips for Success

Success in the financial management field requires a combination of technical knowledge, practical experience, and a set of soft skills. Here are some valuable tips to help you forge a successful career as a Financial Manager.

Educational Requirements

To kick-start your career in financial management, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. However, many employers prefer candidates with a master's degree, particularly an MBA with a concentration in finance. In addition to formal education, certifications like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) can significantly boost your marketability.

Gain Relevant Experience

Before becoming a Financial Manager, most professionals work in related roles to gain necessary experience. Positions such as financial analyst, accountant, or auditor can provide valuable insights into the financial operations of businesses. This experience will equip you with an understanding of how to analyze financial reports, forecast economic trends, and advise management on financial decisions.

Develop Essential Skills

Beyond academic qualifications and experience, certain skills are crucial for success in this field. These include analytical skills for interpreting complex financial data, detail orientation to spot errors in financial documents, math skills for creating financial forecasts and budgets, and communication skills to explain financial concepts to non-financial colleagues.

Stay Updated With Industry Trends

As a Financial Manager, you'll need to stay abreast of changes in financial regulations and industry trends. This could involve subscribing to relevant publications, joining professional organizations, attending industry conferences, and completing continuing education courses. Staying updated will not only enhance your competence but also position you as a thought leader in your field.

Networking

Networking is a powerful tool for career advancement. Connect with other professionals in your field through networking events, online platforms like LinkedIn, and professional associations. These connections can provide valuable career advice, job opportunities, and insights into the latest industry trends.

Leadership

As a Financial Manager, you'll often be tasked with leading a team. Therefore, developing strong leadership skills is essential. This could involve taking on leadership roles in volunteer organizations or pursuing additional training and education in leadership and management.

Continuous Learning

The financial industry is constantly evolving, and as such, continuous learning is crucial. Keep up-to-date with the latest financial software and tools, pursue further certifications, and attend relevant training and seminars. This will not only keep your skills sharp but also demonstrate your commitment to your profession.

What is a Financial Manager?

A Financial Manager is a professional who is responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization. In addition to having a strong background in finance, they should also possess strong communication skills, as they often work on teams and must explain complex financial concepts to individuals without a financial background.

What Does a Financial Manager Do?

A Financial Manager has numerous responsibilities that revolve around the management and handling of an organization's finances. They are in charge of creating financial reports, directing investment activities, and strategizing plans for long-term financial objectives. Additionally, they may be tasked with budgeting, forecasting future financial needs, negotiating lines of credit, and deciding on investment strategies. A large part of their role also involves staying updated with market trends to maximize profits and find expansion opportunities.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Financial Manager?

Becoming a successful Financial Manager requires a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills include proficiency in finance, accounting, economics, and business principles. Strong analytical skills are crucial for interpreting complex numerical information. Familiarity with financial software is also advantageous. Soft skills include excellent communication abilities to explain and justify financial decisions to stakeholders. Leadership skills are important as Financial Managers often lead a team of analysts or other finance professionals. Furthermore, strategic planning abilities are essential for formulating financial strategies to help the organization reach its goals.

What Education Do You Need to Become a Financial Manager?

The educational path to becoming a Financial Manager typically begins with a bachelor's degree in fields such as finance, economics, business administration, or accounting. Many organizations prefer candidates with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or similar fields. Coursework in these programs generally covers subjects like financial accounting, business economics, management, and financial management. Some Financial Managers may also pursue professional certifications, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, to enhance their credibility and job prospects.

How Do You Advance in the Financial Manager Career Path?

Advancement in the Financial Manager career path often involves gaining experience and furthering education. Initially, many Financial Managers start their careers in related roles such as financial analysts or accountants. With time and experience, they may advance to supervisory roles and then to the position of Financial Manager. Continued professional development through additional certifications or an advanced degree, such as an MBA or a PhD in finance or business administration, can also aid career advancement. Networking within the industry and staying abreast of current financial laws and regulations is also beneficial for career progression.

What is the Job Outlook for Financial Managers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Financial Managers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is largely driven by the need for companies and organizations to have sound financial management in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. As businesses continue to expand their operations, more Financial Managers will be needed to guide and control financial activities.