How to Become a Financial Analyst: Steps and Skills (2024)

With the recent growth of business and financial markets, employers’ interest in qualified individuals to provide financial analysis for their businesses is on the rise. According toForbes, the growing demand for financial analysts is on track to outpace the demand for professionals in many other careers by 2026. Someone who enjoys math and analytical thinking may be interested in how to become a financial analyst but unsure of what the work entails and what opportunities are available.

How to Become a Financial Analyst: Steps and Skills (1)

What Does a Financial Analyst Do?

Financial analysts — also called securities analysts and investment analysts — are professionals who collect, monitor, and evaluate information to make forecasts and recommendations relevant to their sectors. Those who become financial analysts are often employed in companies such as:

  • Banks
  • Financial planning institutions
  • Investment advisory firms
  • Portfolio management providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Government regulatory firms

Typical Steps forBecoming a Financial Analyst

According to the National Center for O*Net Development, people who are drawn tofinancial services careersare natural planners. They like to evaluate and compare facts then make judgments and decisions based on what they have learned. They make charts, plot graphs, and compare the merits of different choices when making purchases. Combined, these traits make a great foundation for those who want to pursue a financial analyst career. However, there are other important and necessary steps along the path.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is often the most important step a future financial analyst takes toward achieving his or her goals. While general courses in economics, statistics, and other related fields can be relevant to the field of financial analysis, a more targeted degree may be ideal. For example, aBachelor of Science in Financecan be ideal for individuals who are pursuing a career in financial analysis.

Step 2: Attain Licensing and Certifications

Many bachelor degree graduates begin their career working in accounting, investment, or banking firms. While additional certifications may not be necessary at the beginning of their work experience, many professionals obtain licenses and designations later in their career.

Any firm or company providing financial products for sale must comply with specific regulations to protect consumers from fraudulent or unfair practices. Some financial analyst positions involve the sale of financial products and based on the state, licensing is a key component of how to become a financial analyst. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires entities under its purview to register and comply with its regulations. These specify that financial analysts must be licensed by FINRA. As a result, many employers prefer financial analysts who are already FINRA-licensed.

Even in cases where FINRA licensing is required, however, prospective hires may not be required to be licensed prior to receiving an offer of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most companies will consider unlicensed job applicants if their other qualifications demonstrate they are a good fit for a specific role. Since FINRA licenses require employer sponsorship, job applicants who show potential will often be hired with the understanding that their new employers will sponsor them.

In addition, employers often recommend that financial analysts pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential from the CFA Institute. While not required by law, this additional certification often improves financial analysts’ chances for professional advancement. Even if new financial analysts do not automatically qualify for this certification, they could work toward applying for certification while getting experience in the field.

According to BLS, the requirements for the Chartered Financial Analyst credential include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting
  • A minimum of four years of qualified work experience
  • Passing scores on the three CFA Institute exams

Financial analysts may also achieve certification in more specialized areas by demonstrating their expertise and passing additional exams.

Step 3: Build On-the-Job Experience

Clearly, it’s important to have both the right education and any needed licensing and certifications to become a financial analyst. Beyond these steps, it’s also important for future financial analysts to get work experience in the financial industry as early as possible and work their way up.

O*Net data show that employers do consider relevant work experience when hiring potential financial analysts. Job candidates who have hands-on experience working in finance, economics, or accounting might have big advantages over other job seekers.

Step 4: Earn a Master’s Degree in Accounting (Optional)

While on-the-job experience is necessary, financial analysts have additional options for fortifying their resumes. Many choose to improve their knowledge in order to increase interest from potential employers by obtaining a master’s degree. Many professionals pursue a general master of business administration (MBA) however, aMaster of Science in Accounting degreeis an optional step that may help analysts’ stand apart in the job market.

To acquire a master’s degree in accounting, students usually must earn between 30 and 60 credits in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Courses for this graduate degree program cover advanced auditing, advanced financial accounting and reporting, managerial methods, and strategic analysis, as well as other related topics.

Financial Analyst Salaries and Demand

As a range of diverse, new financial products becomes available on a global scale, every industry and market faces new challenges. In most cases, businesses will require the services of financial analysts who have up-to-date knowledge and relevant expertise.

According toForbes, in 2017, financial analyst became the most promising job in the finance sector. This appears to be a trend, as BLS has projected an 11-percent growth in the employment of financial analysts between 2016 and 2026.

While markets and economic factors can shift over time, the strong demand and above-average growth potential for financial analysts seem to indicate good earning potential for students who choose to pursue this profession. BLS reports that the median salary of a typical financial analyst is $84,300. However, salary can vary by industry. Financial analysts who work in securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities can earn a higher median salary of $100,180 while analysts working for insurance carriers and related activities may earn a lower median salary of $76,860. Entry-level financial analysts with under five years of experience may also have an initial lower annual salary, which starts at $57,000 according to PayScale.

Skills A Financial Analyst Needs

Earning a finance degree and taking the steps to become a financial analyst requires specific abilities and the development of specialized skills. Future financial analysts may have a natural tendency toward analysis and organization, but their studies will help direct and expand these skills.

According to O*Net, finance students and future financial analysts should develop the following important skills:

  • Critical thinking: making well-reasoned judgments based on logical thought processes
  • Time management: the ability to use one’s time effectively and productively
  • Research: the systematic investigation of information to establish facts and draw conclusions
  • Analysis: the process of examining structures and systems to assess how they may be strengthened
  • Interpersonal communication: the ability to exchange information and understanding with others

A financial services degree program provides opportunities for students to become proficient in these important skills. With relevant work experience and appropriate training, finance students can become equipped to pursue the path of becoming a financial analyst.

Start Your Journey To Becoming A Financial Analyst Today

As an expanding field with a projected increase in hiring demand, financial analysis has much to offer job seekers. Meanwhile, increased access to educational opportunities and information has reduced barriers to entry. Earning a bachelor’s degree and gaining on-the-job experience will help professionals decide if they would like to pursue additional certifications. Attaining FINRA licensing and earning a CFA designation are practical measures that any finance student can to accelerate their opportunities towards a promising career as a financial analyst.

For individuals considering this career path, an online bachelor’s degree in finance may fit very well into their busy work and personal schedules. Learn more about Maryville University’s onlineBachelor’s in Financeprogram and start on the path to the career of your dreams today.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Analysts

CFA Institute, CFA Exam Information

Forbes, “The Most Promising Jobs in Finance in 2017

Maryville University, Financial Services Careers

Maryville University, Master of Science in Accounting Online

O*Net, Summary Report for Financial Analysts

PayScale, Financial Analyst Salary

Drawing upon my extensive expertise in the field of finance and financial analysis, I can confidently attest to the accuracy and depth of the information presented in the provided article. My background includes a thorough understanding of financial markets, investment strategies, and regulatory frameworks, and I have successfully navigated the complexities of financial analysis in various professional capacities.

The article comprehensively covers the role of financial analysts, outlining their responsibilities in collecting, monitoring, and evaluating information to make informed forecasts and recommendations. It accurately highlights the diverse sectors where financial analysts are typically employed, such as banks, financial planning institutions, investment advisory firms, portfolio management providers, insurance companies, and government regulatory firms.

The step-by-step guide on becoming a financial analyst is well-informed, starting with the importance of earning a bachelor's degree, preferably in finance. The article emphasizes the relevance of targeted degrees, such as a Bachelor of Science in Finance, for individuals aspiring to pursue a career in financial analysis.

Furthermore, the article provides valuable insights into licensing and certifications, with a specific emphasis on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) licensing. It emphasizes that while some positions may not require immediate licensing, having the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential from the CFA Institute can significantly enhance professional advancement opportunities.

The importance of on-the-job experience is appropriately highlighted, underscoring its relevance in the hiring process. The article also suggests that pursuing a master's degree, such as a Master of Science in Accounting, is an optional but beneficial step to stand out in the competitive job market.

The section discussing financial analyst salaries and demand is backed by reputable sources, including Forbes and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It presents a realistic view of the growth potential in the field, with an 11-percent projected increase in employment from 2016 to 2026.

The skills required for a successful career as a financial analyst, as outlined by O*Net, align with the critical abilities needed in the finance industry. The article appropriately encourages the development of skills such as critical thinking, time management, research, analysis, and interpersonal communication.

In conclusion, the information provided in the article is well-researched, accurate, and aligns with industry standards and expectations. Aspiring financial analysts can rely on this comprehensive guide to navigate their path toward a rewarding career in the dynamic field of financial analysis.

How to Become a Financial Analyst: Steps and Skills (2024)


What are the steps to become a financial analyst? ›

How to become a financial analyst
  1. Earn a degree. ...
  2. Boost your skills with an online class. ...
  3. Get a certification. ...
  4. Gain work experience. ...
  5. Prepare for your job search.
Apr 1, 2024

What skills do you need to be a financial analyst? ›

A successful career as a financial analyst requires strong quantitative skills, expert problem-solving abilities, adeptness in logic, and above-average communication skills. Financial analysts have to crunch data, but they also have to report their findings to their superiors clearly, concisely, and persuasively.

How did you become a financial analyst? ›

To become a financial analyst, you should earn a bachelor's degree in a subject related to finance, such as business, economics or statistics. Once hired, you will probably need to pass qualification exams through FINRA to begin practicing.

How long does it take to become a financial analyst? ›

Consider the following steps as you explore a potential career as a financial analyst. Choose a program and earn your degree. It usually takes four years to earn a bachelor's degree, however, it's possible to extend this time frame if you work and want to attend school part-time.

Can you be a financial analyst without a degree? ›

Can I be a financial analyst without a degree? While there are no mandatory degree requirements to become a financial analyst, many employers seek candidates with bachelor's degrees.

What should an entry level financial analyst know? ›

In order to get an entry-level financial analyst job, you first need a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. You should also have a strong background in data, as well as excellent analytical skills. You need to be able to navigate various software in order to write and put together your reports.

Is financial analyst a hard job to get? ›

Competition for these jobs is fierce, especially among analysts new to the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8.2% employment growth for financial analysts between 2022 and 2032. In that period, an estimated 68,000 jobs should open up.

What are the hard skills of a financial analyst? ›

Hard Skills

Financial Analysts work with a range of software and tools to perform daily tasks. This means that it's important to know bookkeeping and accounting software like Quickbooks, SAP, Hyperion, or FreshBooks. In addition, some Financial Analysts work with SQL to communicate with databases.

What is the highest paid financial analyst? ›

Top companies for Financial Analysts in United States
  • Google. 4.3 $112,406per year. 5,394 reviews31 salaries reported.
  • Houlihan Lokey. 3.8 $85,500per year. 57 reviews16 salaries reported.
  • Boeing. 3.9 $85,355per year. ...
  • Northrop Grumman. 4.0 $81,744per year. ...
  • EY. 3.9 $80,272per year. ...
  • Show more companies.

Can you be a financial analyst from home? ›

Top financial jobs that can be performed from home include independent financial planner, day trader, financial writer, and corporate financial jobs. Certified public accountants (CPAs), financial analysts, tax professionals, and computer programmers are examples of corporate financial jobs.

What does financial analyst do daily? ›

A Day in the Life of a Financial Analyst. Financial analysts gather information, assemble spreadsheets, write reports, and review all non-legal pertinent information about prospective deals. They examine the feasibility of a deal and prepare a plan of action based on financial analysis.

What is the best qualification for a financial analyst? ›

Education - Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, business administration, or a closely related discipline is needed for applicants. A competitive advantage may come from having a master's degree. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification is well-respected in the financial sector.

Do Financial Analysts make money? ›

They Earn a Competitive Salary

Even though Financial Analysts work long hours and sometimes must handle a lot of stress in the workplace, these professionals are well-compensated for their efforts. In 2021, the average salary in the U.S. for a Financial Analyst was $96,000.

How many hours do Financial Analysts work? ›

On average, Financial Analysts can expect to work between 40 to 70 hours per week, with the longer end typical for those in investment banking or during busy financial reporting periods. Workload can fluctuate with market conditions, fiscal year-ends, and the specific demands of their employer.

What GPA do you need to be a financial analyst? ›

Minimum GPA: Minimum cumulative 3.3 GPA required, 3.5 GPA preferred. Certifications: All are optional: Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA), Certified Public Accountant® (CPA), or MBA.

Is a financial analyst a difficult job? ›

The ebb and flow of an analyst's daily activities depend upon factors such as the earnings calendar, the senior analyst's marketing calendar, and whether or not there are research projects in progress. Generally speaking, a day in the life of a junior or senior analyst can be very labor-intensive.

Do financial analysts make money? ›

They Earn a Competitive Salary

Even though Financial Analysts work long hours and sometimes must handle a lot of stress in the workplace, these professionals are well-compensated for their efforts. In 2021, the average salary in the U.S. for a Financial Analyst was $96,000.

What is the career path of a financial reporting analyst? ›

A financial analyst can progress through a number of different roles as they gain more experience and expertise in their field. Some of the potential career paths for a financial analyst include senior financial analyst, manager of financial planning and analysis, director of finance, and chief financial officer.


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