Potential Salaries After a Finance Course

Individuals who choose to work in the world of finance typically invest significant amounts of both time and money in preparation of that goal. A career in finance requires completion of a formal finance course; analytical, marketing and communication skills; integrity; discipline; and perseverance. Whether the job is that of financial advisor, mortgage broker, accountant, or tax consultant, the finance graduate must work long and hard, setting strategies and remaining focused on personal success. Over time, the dedication to work and clients starts to pay off as experience and earnings grow. As with most careers, recent college graduates typically enter their chosen professions in entry-level positions, advancing over time to mid- or even upper-level jobs that have corresponding increases in responsibilities and pay. In addition to years of experience, the salary a finance professional receives, however, is affected by many other factors.

The quality and level of education received can affect pay. An individual with a doctorate or master’s degree in finance or business can expect to earn more than someone with a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. And, those who did well in school or earned their degrees from renowned schools or finance education programs can also expect higher earnings. Those who take finance-related jobs right out of high school can expect to earn the least as they have not received formal education in the area of finance.

Individuals who possess professional certifications or licensures that are relevant to the jobs they hold also increase their earnings potential. These designations are indicative of employees who are dedicated to their professions and increasing their expertise. Top performance on the job also has a significant impact on pay, including bonuses. Those who excel at their jobs are potential candidates for promotion, which brings increases in salaries as well.

Where you live or work can also affect your pay. Regional differences in population and cost of living contribute to salary variations across the United States. Less populated suburban or rural areas tend to be more affordable than more densely populated urban areas. As a result, a bank job on Main Street U.S.A., for example, may pay somewhat less than a similar job in downtown Manhattan.

The salaries for finance professionals vary greatly. Studious, hard-working, high-performing individuals are rewarded with higher pay, more generous bonuses, and the potential for career promotion and advancement.

Entry Level—$39,000 to $50,000

If you are a recent graduate from a finance course, chances are that the first job you obtain in the finance industry will be an entry-level position. It may not be your dream job, and it may not pay the salary you would have hoped for, but you should take full advantage of the opportunity and make it work to your benefit. There are many different careers within the finance profession. This article reviews some of the most common positions along with their respective starting salaries.

Potential Salaries After a Finance Course

The general responsibilities of an accountant are to analyze financial information and prepare financial reports, such as profit and loss statements. In the field of accounting, the starting salary for an accountant ranges from approximately $43,000 to $60,000, depending on prior work and education experience. If the individual is a certified public accountant (CPA), the earnings potential increases to over $67,000. As a general rule, an accountant who holds a CPA designation earns at least 10 percent more than those who do not.

Some accountants work as auditors. Auditing is a growing field as companies expand business operations and sales globally. Entry-level auditors may start in public accounting firms, typically earning between $40,000 and $50,000. At this stage of their careers, they can learn a variety of accounting techniques and obtain licensures.

An entry-level position for a tax consultant or tax accountant involves maintaining tax records and preparing tax returns, schedules and reports. The salary range for the tax accountant ranges from approximately $38,000 to $58,000.

Commercial banking involves earning the business of new customers and providing them with the bank’s full line of financial services, which include assistance on large capital projects and providing loans and credit. The entry-level or starting annual salaries for individuals with bachelor’s degrees is approximately $48,000 for a trainee and credit analyst, $40,000 for a mortgage originator with one year of experience, and $40,000 for someone who works in personal banking with just a year or two of experience. Analysts in the investment banking industry can expect higher starting salaries. Those who possess bachelor’s degrees can earn starting salaries of $90,000, while associates who have their master’s degrees in business administration (MBAs) can earn significantly more, in some cases, well over $100,000.

Insurance is another great option. Most people are familiar with car insurance and term life insurance, but there's much more to the industry than that. Jobs in the insurance industry include underwriter, sales or customer service representative, asset manager, or actuary. There are many opportunities for advancement in this industry that revolve around helping individuals understand their insurance needs and selecting appropriate policies for them. Jobs exist in the auto and life, property and casualty, and health insurance areas. The starting salary for an insurance underwriter ranges between $39,000 and $58,000. Entry-level actuaries can earn approximately $50,000, while agents and adjusters typically start at $40,000.

The quality of the professional experience you gain in an entry-level job and the contacts you make with coworkers, bosses, clients, and business colleagues while in that job will end up being much more important to you in the future than the salary you receive to start. Consider it all an investment in you. As you gain experience and enhance your professional credentials, you will advance in your career as well. The compensation package for finance professionals includes more than just a salary; well-qualified, top-performing employees can also expect to receive generous job perks, bonuses, and additional benefits.

Mid Level—$50,000 to $90,000

Mid-level finance professionals should be proficient in their jobs, have relationship-building skills organizational abilities, and time management capabilities. At this stage, they have been in their jobs for at least five or six years. When a senior-level manager or director evaluates the job performance of a mid-level employee, he or she looks for leadership skills and abilities and the employee’s readiness to be transitioned into roles of greater responsibility and authority. At mid-level, successful managers are selected for further professional development, which can include learning additional finance course topics. Many are promoted into supervisory positions, managing teams of employees. Promotion and added responsibilities result in increases in salaries and the potential for even further career advancement.

Often, employees who are promoted to mid-level supervisory positions must receive additional training, specifically for leading and managing other employees. One example is in the field of accounting, where the manager supervises an accounting staff and has responsibility for all accounting functions of an entire department. The supervisor not only manages his or her team of direct reports but also routinely interacts with the senior management team as necessary, providing monthly reports and financial statements, among many other managerial duties.

In general, mid-level accountants with between five and nine years of experience can expect to earn between $50,000 and $72,000. Certified public accountants (CPAs) can earn approximately $80,000. Tax accountants with four to six years of job experience can earn between $52,000 and $77,000. Mid-level accountants who work as staff auditors can earn upwards of $57,000. Senior-level auditors who are CPA-licensed and have between five and nine years of experience can earn approximately $67,000.

In the commercial banking industry, an individual with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) can expect to earn between $70,000 and $100,000. A financial analyst with three or more years of experience can earn in the area of $58,000 a year, and a junior loan officer with a bachelor’s degree and three or more years of experience can earn approximately $60,000. Loan officers with at least five years of experience can earn at least $100,000 annually.

The insurance industry offers great potential for personal development and growth. Qualified actuaries, for example, who perform well and remain informed about legislative developments and economic and social trends can advance in their careers. The annual salary for a mid-level actuary is more than $80,000. Mid-level agents and underwriters can earn annual salaries of $70,000 and $80,000, respectively.

Financial planners at mid-level can earn salaries that range between $51,000 and $72,000, depending on if they work for a financial planning company or franchise or if they work independently and have built their own client bases. Those with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation can expect to earn more as this credential demonstrates that the individual possesses expertise on a variety of investing and financial planning topics and meets industry standards of professionalism and ethics.

The annual salary of corporate finance professionals varies depending on the size of the firm and if they hold master’s degrees. A well-qualified, mid-level financial analyst, for example, can earn approximately $65,000 at a small firm, while the same financial analyst will earn $81,000 at a larger company. Corporate tax managers and assistant treasurers can earn between $88,000 and $92,000 annually.

Finance professionals will see the investments made in their educations and jobs start to pay off at the mid-level stage of their careers. At this point, many will have earned degrees and certifications to enhance their skills and qualifications. Along with this comes recognition and reward in the form of a higher salary.

Upper Level—$90,000 to $120,000

Finance professionals with ten or more years of experience in their fields have the potential to earn very lucrative salaries. At this stage of their careers, they will have successfully built client bases or consistently supported their organizations’ goals and objectives of continued financial growth. They will have likely completed more than one finance course of study, such as that of master’s degree in finance, or received a professional certification such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst, or Certified Financial Planner. These professionals fully understand all the functions and applications of national and global financial markets and work very comfortably with the financial information available to them. Senior- and upper-level professionals in the finance industry enjoy earnings upwards of $120,000 annually, plus bonuses and other benefits of the job.

Senior accountants are responsible for managing the financial resources and transactions of a company or an organization and its employees. They are always aware of the company’s financial status. Senior accountants who have ten or more years of work experience can earn $90,000, while those with a CPA designation can earn approximately $105,000. Tax accountants with six to eight years of experience can earn up to $112,000. Auditors in public accounting firms with ten or more years of auditing or other accounting experience can earn between $77,000 and $124,000 annually.

In the commercial banking industry, individuals with master’s degrees in business administration (MBAs) and five to ten years of banking experience can expect to earn between $80,000 and $120,000. For example, senior corporate loan officers in the commercial banking industry with ten or more years of experience can expect to earn at least $115,000 a year. They have well-developed selling skills and a deep understanding of the banking industry.

Upper-level independent financial planners can expect to earn annual salaries of more than $120,000, depending on how much of a client base they have built up over the years. Those who work in financial planning companies will probably earn less, but they can still expect to receive annual salaries of at least $105,000.

Successful investors and money managers combine tenacity with analytical skills to select and manage investments of large sums of money. They must have an excellent understanding of financial markets and financial companies. Seasoned professionals have the patience and discipline needed to be successful in this challenging work that involves much risk taking, whether as portfolio managers or mutual fund analysts. Upper-level money managers and investors can command respect and rewarding salaries to go along with it.

There is opportunity for inquisitive, analytical, and customer-focused finance professionals to combine these qualities with their educations and experience to enjoy long-term careers that are rewarding both emotionally and financially.

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