A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
What Can I Do with a Finance Education?
There are an array of degrees available for those interested in finance. Some universities offer a bachelor degree in finance, while others offer a bachelor degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. It’s important to carefully research a school to determine which degree program is designed to develop the knowledge and skills to help you prepare for your career path.
Whereas accounting is the study of how money is tracked, finance is the study of how money is managed. A degree in business administration with a finance concentration is designed to help students prepare to apply business skills and problem-solve, summarize how management knowledge and skills support organizational performance and demonstrate knowledge and application of financial management. Additionally, this degree type provide students with the opportunity to develop proficiency in financial accounting, capital and money markets, investments and risk assessment knowledge.
Additionally, a business administration with a concentration in finance degree program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop foundational knowledge and skills to help students prepare for a career in business finance and focuses specifically on theories and practices related to financial accounting, investment allocation and risk management. According to Dr. John Halstead, an economics and finance Lead Instructor at Colorado Technical University (CTU), one of the advantages of obtaining a degree with a finance concentration is for the opportunity to apply the principles of finance to one’s daily work. Dr. Halstead also stresses that career impact is the result of hard work. “Finance curriculum can be geared around financial systems and economics, and may be fairly rigorous. To do well, students have to put in the effort.”
Though finance is a separate field of study from accounting, finance professionals need to have an aptitude for numbers and basic accounting. In finance, these professionals are managing (and spending) others’ money. This is a high level of responsibility and it means a person has to have command over the math necessary to understand budgets and a familiarity with applicable accounting regulations.1 Students with an interest in finance should also have the ability to think logically and analyze vast quantities of financial information to draw appropriate conclusions.2
Possible Career Paths
While the following positions are only a sample of the possible careers in the business and financial field, they demonstrate a range of industries and organizational roles that may be available.3
Personal Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors help people manage their finances by providing advice on financial matters such as investments, insurance, estate planning, taxes and retirement.3 For example, a personal financial advisor might help a client save to buy a car or a house, find a way to pay for college, or afford medical care for an elderly parent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of opportunities for personal financial advisors is expected to grow 30% by 2024.4
Financial analysts analyze business or financial data, apply mathematical models of financial of business conditions, develop plans, determine the value of goods or services and recommend investments to clients.5 Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data may also be useful in this role. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that opportunities for financial analysts are expected to grow 12% between now and 2024.6
Budget analysts manage money and develop budgets for businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. They estimate profits and losses and compare business benefits against business expenditures. Budget analysts recommend ways for organizations to save money and review operational and financial proposals from managers at the beginning of each new budget cycle. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects opportunities for budget analysts will increase 3% between now and 2024.7
Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agent
Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets. They sell securities to individuals, provide advice to companies searching for investors, and conduct trades. Securities, commodities and financial sales agents work in high stress environments and often work more than 40 hours a week. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents are expected to grow by 10% between now and 2024.8
Loan officers represent banks, credit unions and other financial institutions and assist borrowers in securing loans. Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. Most loan officers are employed by commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and related financial institutions. Most commercial and consumer loan officers work full time, and many mortgage loan officers work extensive hours. Except for consumer loan officers, traveling to visit clients is common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects are expected to grow 8% between now and 2024.9
Management analyst, often referred to as management consultant, help companies strengthen business performance and grow by solving problems and identifying new, improved ways to perform business functions. The kind of projects management consultants undertake are hugely varied, from determining what kind of business model a client should follow to restructuring programs, building new products, growing new services and advising on organizational structure.10 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the number of opportunities for management consultants is expected to grow 14% by 2024.11
Operations Research Analyst
An operations research analyst uses quantitative reasoning skills and his or her ability to think critically to solve complex problems and provide solutions. He or she identifies problems, collects and examines information, gets input from an entity's employees and then uses statistical analysis and simulations to analyze the data and develop solutions. The operations systems analyst will weigh the costs versus the benefits of various solutions before recommending one over another. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of positions for operations research analysts is expected to grow 30% by 2024.12
There are many career opportunities within the business and financial field.13 Additional possible paths could include:
- Cost estimator
- Internal auditor
- Regulatory compliance officer
- Portfolio manager
- Venture capitalist
Finance professionals have the opportunity to build credentials by completing professional designations and licenses in investments, banking, insurance and real estate. One license that is available is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The CFA Institute confers the CFA certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree, four years of work experience, pass three exams in succession covering topics such as accounting, economics, ethics, money management and security analysis, and join the CFA Institute. Earning a CFA is a time-consuming, challenging process. CFAs sometimes receive salary increases once their certification is complete and in some organizations, they receive preferential treatment in the job application process.14
The U.S. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) confers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP certification) to professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and pass a three-part examination covering the general principles of financial planning, insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits, investments, income tax, retirement and estate planning. In addition, applicants must have at least three full-time years of related work experience.15
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designations are granted by the American College upon completion of comprehensive coursework (seven required courses and two elective courses). Designed to be an alternative to the CFP, the ChFC is similar in that the certification is a mark of competency in the understanding of financial matters and the ability to provide sound financial advice. Unlike the CFP, however, there is no exam. To be considered for a ChFC program, professionals must have a minimum of three years of work in the financial industry. It is also recommended the applicant have a degree related to finance or business.16
While a career in finance can be challenging, it may also be rewarding. Also, it’s a good idea to stay on top of the market. Reading The Wall Street Journal and keeping a pulse on emerging trends through professional associations and networking events are good places to start. Some finance professionals agree, the most beneficial finance education students receive may come from sources other than textbooks.17
These professionals also suggest that students work hard on growing a network of contacts, such as staying in touch with classmates and former work colleagues and getting to know individuals who have influence in the industry. As a career advances, students may discover that these networked individuals have the power to create business opportunities, offer positions and make referrals.17
Earn a BSBA - Finance with CTU
Colorado Technical University offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Finance (BSBA-F) degree program recognized by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Building on a core business administration curriculum, a concentration in finance focuses on theories and practices related to financial accounting, investment allocation and risk management. Students in this CTU degree program also have the opportunity to develop an understanding of marketing, international business practices and international finance. Learn more about CTU's business administration-finance degree.
1. Doyle, Alison. “Finance Skills Lists and Examples.” The Balance. Last modified February 17, 2017. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/finance-skills-list-2062397.
2. Von Stade, Skiddy. “10 Traits of Quality Finance Candidates.” Last modified July 2, 2013. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/10-traits-of-quality-finance-job-candidates/.
3. “Business and Financial Occupations.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm.
4. “Personal Financial Advisors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm.
5. “Summary Report for Financial Analysts.” ONet Online. Accessed May 26, 2017. https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2051.00.
6. “Financial Analysts.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm.
7. “Budget Analysts.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm.
8. “Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/securities-commodities-and-financial-services-sales-agents.htm.
9. “Loan Officers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/loan-officers.htm.
10. “Summary Report for Management Analysts.” ONet Online. Accessed May 26, 2017. https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-1111.00.
11. “Management Analysts.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm.
12. “Operations Research Analysts.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm.
13. Kochanek, David. “Financial Career Options.” Accessed February 21, 2017. http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/10/career-finance-banking-pf-ii-in_dk_1210careers_inl.html.
14. “Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA.” Accessed February 19, 2017. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cfa.asp.
15. “What Are the Requirements to Become a CFP?” Accessed February 23, 2017. http://www.simplestockinvesting.com/requirements-to-become-a-CFP.htm.
16. “Chartered Financial Consultant – ChFC.” Accessed February 23, 2017. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/chartered-financial-consultant-chfc.asp.
17. Von Stade, Skiddy. “Young Professionals: 8 Tips to Help You Succeed in Finance.” Accessed February 23, 2017. http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/blog/young-professionals-8-tips-to-help-you-succeed-in-finance.
CTU does not guarantee third-party certifications. CTU’s business administration-finance program is not designed to prepare students for the CFA or CFP examination or any other certification exam. Certification requirements for taking and passing certification examinations are not controlled by CTU but by outside agencies and are subject to change by the agencies without notice to CTU. Therefore, CTU cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take certification examinations, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.
For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.