A degree in finance can help prepare you for a career as a financial analyst, typically holding jobs that involve assessing the performance of different financial products such as stocks and bonds. Financial Analysts will often work with individuals, analyzing their financial positions and recommending the right investment mix to safeguard their money while also seeking to maximize financial returns.

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Finance Course Topics

Typically, those who go into finance take courses in business-related topics, and have a sound foundation in mathematics. Many employers also prefer job candidates for financial analyst positions to have an MBA. Courses could include the areas of:

  • Business administration
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Investment options, bond valuation and risk management

Job Duties for Financial Analysts

One of the more popular occupations within finance is that of financial analyst, who typically work with banks, investment firms, pension funds and insurance companies. A large percentage of financial analysts work in major cities, such as New York City, that are financial centers across the globe. Long hours are expected in this position, with much research happening at night because days are spent on the telephone or in client meetings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In general, financial analysts can be divided into two groups:

  • Buy-side analysts.  They develop strategies for accumulating investments, typically for companies that have a large investment portfolio. Clients can include mutual and hedge funds, insurance companies and large non-profit organizations with large endowments.
  • Sell-side analysts. They provide advice to sales agents who sell investments such as bonds and stocks.

Job Outlook in the Field of Financial Analyst

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of jobs for financial analysts is expected to grow 23 percent by 2020, a rate that is far faster than the average growth expected in all occupations. The BLS reports that a growing range on investment options is spurring the growth. There is also an aging American population that will need assistance managing their retirement accounts.

Additionally, according to the BLS, foreign markets are becoming more open to investments, and analysts with expertise in the area will increasingly be in demand.

Financial analysts made an average of $74,350 in May 2010, according to the BLS. The top 10 percent earned an average of $141,700.