How to Become a Financial Manager

| Cynthia Widmayer Modified on March 23, 2022

How to Become a Financial Manager

A finance manager's career usually begins with a bachelor's degree and at least five years of professional experience

Financial managers oversee an organization's fiscal activities. They supervise accounting teams, prepare financial reports, and analyze company performance data. These professionals also advise senior management about budgeting and investments, finding ways to reduce costs and maximize profit. Financial managers can work in nearly every industry.

A finance manager's career usually begins with a bachelor's degree and at least five years of professional experience. Relevant work experience and the right credentials can help pave the way to advanced positions and draw the attention of employers.

This guide provides an in-depth exploration of how to become a financial manager.

Steps on How to Become a Financial Manager

The first step towards a finance management career is a college degree in finance, business, economics, or a related discipline. A four-year bachelor's degree typically consists of 120 credits. Associate degree credits may also transfer to a bachelor's program.

Bachelor's degree programs often include an internship, which gives students experience in the workplace while helping to increase employability.

Advanced credentials, combined with work experience, may boost a financial manager's career. A master's degree or certification can give professionals a competitive edge.

Most employers seek at least five years of relevant industry experience for a finance manager role. Many finance managers begin their careers as loan officers, accountants, or securities sales agents.

Educational Job Requirements for a Financial Manager

Financial managers usually need a bachelor's degree in a business-related field. Bachelor's programs typically span four years and comprise 120 credits. Courses cover financial accounting, investments, and risk management. Students can explore interests like entrepreneurship, analytics, and insurance planning through electives.

If opting for certification, students can take one of several available exams. Popular credentials include certified management accountant (CMA), certified government financial manager (CGFM), and chartered financial analyst (CFA). Many certifications require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree.

Financial managers may benefit from further education. Master's in finance programs usually take 1-2 years of full-time study and carry 30-60 credits. Graduate certificate programs take about a year to complete and 30 credits. Aspiring professionals can look for certificate programs in corporate finance and financial management.

Required Credentials for Financial Managers

There is no mandatory licensure for financial managers. Voluntary certifications can add value to a professional's resume and help them stand out to employers. Certifications vary by industry but include certified public accountant (CPA), CMA, and CFA.

Optional Certifications and Degrees

Preferred certifications vary by industry. For example, the CFA credential applies to financial analyst roles. Financial managers working in local, state, and federal government jobs can earn CGFM certification.

The certified treasury professional and certified corporate financial planning professional designations from the Association for Finance Professionals benefit financial managers in various business sectors. Many finance managers also earn CPA licensure.

Education and work experience requirements vary by certification. Many popular credentials require continuing education and periodic recertification.

Required Experience for a Financial Manager

Work experience is a major factor for a successful financial management career. Many graduate degree programs include internships. If their school does not offer internships, aspiring financial managers can seek opportunities on their own. Students can intern with management and investment firms, banking institutions, and other finance-related organizations.

Internships help professionals learn from senior financial managers while networking in the industry. Most employers look for five or more years of experience when hiring a financial manager.

Should I Become a Financial Manager?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the finance management field is growing quickly, with 17% job growth projected from 2020-2030. A financial management career can offer high salary potential and perks such as bonuses.

This competitive profession demands strong leadership, reasoning, and analytical skills. Networking and communication are also important for success in a financial manager role.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the finance management field is growing quickly, with 17% job growth projected from 2020-2030.

Financial management professionals sometimes need to put in long hours. These professionals must stay updated on changing trends, the economy, and risk management strategies.

Job hours and duties vary, so professionals who do not perform well on a tight, hectic schedule may consider roles in smaller firms.

The Job Hunt

Looking for a financial manager job requires time and effort. Making use of available resources can help make the process quicker. For instance, your internship mentor may provide you with information about open jobs.

Contacts from networking events are also an excellent resource when seeking a job after graduation. Job fairs, conferences, and networking platforms like LinkedIn provide opportunities to build connections with people in your field.

Many people start their job search online. The following are four of the most popular job boards:

Glassdoor provides information about companies, including size, salaries, and benefits. Users can read reviews from former and current employees. The site features a job board with open positions. People looking for financial manager jobs can post their resumes, apply for positions, and get updates on local opportunities through Indeed. The site also offers guidance on writing cover letters and resumes. Besides networking, LinkedIn is also an effective source for job opportunities. Applicants can use their LinkedIn profile to apply for positions, contact recruiters and job posters, and learn more about employers. Typing specific terms, such as "financial manager jobs in New York" or "open finance manager roles near me" into Google can help job-seekers find available positions. Google scours online marketplaces and shows a list of open jobs matching the search term.

Read more tips on job searching:

Upward Mobility

A financial manager's career has room for advancement and growth. In later stages, a financial manager can progress to the role of chief financial officer (CFO). We discuss the key differences between these two roles below:

A financial manager oversees day-to-day financial operations. A company's CFO manages the entire finance department, reporting directly to the CEO.

CFOs need excellent strategic management skills and the ability to handle operations and drive fiscal policies for the entire organization.

The BLS reports that chief executives such as CFOs made an annual median salary of $185,950 as of 2020. Financial managers earned a median annual salary of $134,180 for the same period.

Questions About the Finance Manager Career Path

What degree do you need to become a financial manager?

Financial managers need at least a bachelor's degree in a business discipline to enter the job market. A master's degree or a graduate certificate can boost employability.

What are the other job requirements to be a financial manager?

Besides educational credentials, financial managers need data analysis, leadership, reasoning, and accounting skills. After earning a bachelor's, they may pursue a graduate degree and voluntary certifications or licenses.

How long does it take to learn how to be a financial manager?

Aspiring financial managers should earn a bachelor's degree, which usually takes four years. Professionals need about five years of relevant job experience to qualify for financial management roles.

Are financial managers in demand?

The BLS projects 17% growth in financial manager jobs from 2020-2030. This rate exceeds the national average of 8% for all occupations.

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