The finance profession took a hit during the recent economic downturn. But, according to U.S. News & World Report, “Thanks to renewed interest in fiscal responsibility and an uptick in the economy,” this area of business is showing renewed health.
While a limited number of finance positions are available with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s in a business related discipline, such as business administration, finance, accounting, statistics or accounting, is usually essential for securing entry-level jobs.
Employees hoping to move into the upper echelons of the field should seriously consider earning a master’s degree in business administration, economics or finance.
A degree or specialty in finance prepares students for a career in financial management. Financial managers are responsible for an organization’s financial health. Financial managers produce reports, direct investment activities and develop strategies and plans for an organization’s long-term financial goals.
Technological advances have altered the role of financial managers. Where previously a financial manager’s main responsibility used to be monitoring a company’s finances, now they focus more on data analysis and offering advice on how to maximize profits.
Financial managers’ tasks can be specific to their organization or industry. Government financial managers must understand government appropriations and budgeting processes. Health care financial managers must be aware of health care finance issues.
In addition, financial managers must be aware of the tax laws and regulations concerning their industry.
Finance Degree Jobs and Careers
Among the specialty areas the BLS classifies as financial managers are:
Controllers. Controllers prepare the financial reports that summarize and forecast an organization’s financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets and future earnings or expense analyses. Controllers also prepare reports for governmental agencies that regulate businesses. Controllers often oversee departments such as accounting, audit and budget.
Credit managers. Credit managers run a company’s business. Duties include setting credit-rating criteria, determining credit ceilings and monitoring collection of past-due accounts.
Cash managers. Cash managers are in charge of the flow of cash that comes in and goes out of the company to meet the company’s business and investment needs. They must project the cash flow to ascertain whether the company will have enough cash or will need a loan, or if the company will have a surplus available for investments.
Risk Managers. Risk managers are in charge of controlling an organization’s financial risk by using hedging and other strategies to limit or offset the financial loss or exposure to financial uncertainty. Risk managers pay particular attention to fluctuations in due to currency or commodities.
Insurance managers. Insurance managers make decisions related to protecting an organization against losses by obtaining insurance. Among the insurance needed are policies that cover risks such as disability payments for employees injured on the job and costs brought on by lawsuits against the company.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts growth in the overall field of financial managers for the period between 2010 and 2020 at 9%, less than the average for all jobs surveyed. Growth rates will vary, though, among different industries.
The BLS also reports that the average median salary for financial managers in May 2010 was $103,910.