Finance master’s degrees are versatile and in demand. Whether you’re looking to pursue a specific career in the finance industry or to improve your business acumen as a manager or an aspiring entrepreneur, a master’s in finance will help you on the way to your next steps.
Finance degrees also have a range of specializations that allow you to customize your experience to reach your goals.
Why Choose a Career in Finance?
The finance industry is constantly evolving and expanding, and there is a high demand for finance professionals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in business and financial operations occupations is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030.
There are many career pathways you can take with a master’s in finance. Retail, insurance, investment, and entrepreneurship are just a few of the sectors that employ professionals with financial expertise.
Most finance master’s students can expect to enter the field with a strong negotiating position, depending on experience and type of position.
Considering your personal work-life balance is important when considering what type of career to pursue. Gaining additional credentials can offer more options and broaden the scope of your opportunities.
What Jobs Can I Get With A Master’s in Finance?
If you are seeking career advancement or a career change to finance, there are no shortage of options. Financial job candidates, especially when bolstered by a master’s degree, have the flexibility to explore different avenues.
The following jobs specifically require a master’s because of their high level of experience and rigorous demands. These finance job examples will give you a sense of what you can expect in a similar role and of potential salary.
Senior Financial Analyst
Financial analysts help guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to make a profit.
They analyze data to identify opportunities or evaluate potential outcomes for business decisions or investment opportunities, often within a firm.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for financial analysts was $81,410 in May 2021. Employment for this job is projected to grow about 6 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Actuaries have strong backgrounds in math, statistics, business, and financial theory to analyze the economic costs of risk and uncertainty. They must pass a series of exams for certification. Most actuaries work for insurance companies or as consultants.
The median annual wage for actuaries was $105,900 in May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for actuaries is also expected to grow 24 percent from 2020 to 2030—one of the fastest growing fields in the finance industry.
Investment bankers often work as part of a financial institution. Their primary role is to raise capital for corporations, governments, or other stakeholders.
Major investment banker employers include companies such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan Chase.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, investment bankers can expect to make a base salary of $100,000, depending on experience.
Wealth Management Advisor
Wealth management advisors provide and coordinate services to clients by managing their wealth in a holistic way, typically for a set fee. This often includes a strategic plan for their current and future goals.
According to Indeed, certifications set wealth management advisors apart from other advisors. They must earning additional qualifications such as Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Analyst, or Chartered Financial Consultant.
Based on information from Salary.com, the average wealth manager salary is $83,657 as of July 26, 2022.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Chief financial officers are senior executives responsible for managing the financial actions of a company, including tracking cash flow, financial planning, and analyzing the company’s financial position.
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a CFO is $140,603 as of July 10, 2022.
What Types of Classes Are Required For a Master’s Degree in Finance?
Types of courses for a master’s in finance vary depending on the program. Harvard Extension School’s Finance Master’s Degree Program offers courses that cover topics such as:
- Business valuation
- Corporate finance
- Managerial finance and accounting
- Investment theory
- Financial analysis
Core courses can provide a solid foundation in the principles of finance, while electives can help you specialize your degree. The Extension School also offers stackable graduate certificates in business economics, corporate finance, data analytics, and real estate investment so you can build specialized skills on your way to a master’s degree.
Is Finance a Good Career?
Finance is a good career for those who have strong mathematical and analytical skills, as well as business acumen and solid communication skills. You should thrive in high pressure or challenging environments and enjoy keeping pace with rapidly evolving and expanding industries.
For professionals like Brandon Taylor ’19, who has dreamed of working in finance since he was young, pursuing a career in finance can be fulfilling.
Taylor worked in financial services for about 10 years, including in retail banking, insurance, and investment sales. But he was eager to pivot his career into corporate finance and accounting.
“Upon researching the programs at Harvard Extension School, I discovered that I could not only earn a master’s degree in finance, but I could also earn multiple graduate certificates and meet requirements that would make me eligible to sit for the CPA exam,” says Taylor. “This was exactly what I needed to break into the corporate finance world.”
Most recently, Taylor worked as a financial planning analyst for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC.
Is a Master’s Degree in Finance Worth It?
A master’s degree in finance can help you move on to the next steps in your career. A degree in finance is crucial for jobs across multiple industries, as well as a key way for career changers to build necessary skills.
If a master’s is important for many of the roles, or if a master’s is a key way for career changers to build skills they don’t have for these types of roles, that could be evidence that it’s worth the investment.
Originally an aerospace engineer, David Enciso ’22 chose to pursue a master’s degree in the field of finance from Harvard Extension School.
“When I first joined the program, I was under the impression that I would gain certain skills that would allow me to move around to a different job or perhaps look for a better opportunity. But instead, what the education provided was a whole new method of learning. I have been challenged to the next level,” says Enciso.
He is currently a trader and research associate in New York City.
How to Get a Master’s Degree in Finance
Take the time to look for programs that are the right fit for you. Then plan out your trajectory for the next few years. This will help shape the vision of what you want to get out of your degree and the next stages of your career.
Check out our blog post on how to choose a graduate program if you need help getting started.