The financial industry is a highly competitive and lucrative career path.
It offers both recent graduates and experienced professionals a wide variety of job opportunities in traditional fields such as investment banking and accounting, or in the newer financial technology (fintech) industry.
Read on for a list of the 10 highest-paying finance jobs, their annual salary and typical educational requirements.
- Financial manager
- Financial systems director
- Economic analyst
- Personal financial advisors
- Management analysts
- Financial analysts
- Financial examiners
- Budget analysts
- What do finance jobs pay?
Best paying jobs in finance
Financial managers monitor different aspects of a business’ finances. They can advise chief financial officers and other top executives on investment opportunities to expand or maximize profits.
In smaller companies, a financial manager might be in charge of a company’s entire financial operation; in larger ones, they might monitor more specific aspects, such as credit, cash or risk management. Financial managers have a wide range of responsibilities depending on the company and industry, including analyzing market trends, making financial forecasts and directing investments.
The median annual salary for financial managers was $131,710 in 2021. Employment opportunities for financial managers are projected to grow 17%, a much faster rate than the average for any other occupation.
Financial systems director
Financial systems directors oversee the development and implementation of business systems within companies.
Systems directors can work closely with information technology (IT) departments to help establish systems for tracking capital allocation and collecting financial data. They also ensure the stability of system infrastructures and identify ways to streamline processes.
Financial systems directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in information systems, computer science or database administration. They may also pursue professional certification in databases like WebLogic from Oracle and structure query language (SQL) tools.
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for financial systems directors is $107,901. Employment for computer and information systems managers is projected to grow faster than average — 11% through 2030.
Actuaries help insurance companies estimate the likelihood of future events and its potential financial consequences. They use statistics and modeling to analyze data, predict costs of payouts and design strategies to minimize risks. Actuaries also help companies establish policy premiums, ensuring they're profitable and competitive.
Actuaries can specialize in life insurance, health insurance, property and casualty insurance, enterprise risk management, and pension and retirement benefits. A bachelor’s degree is typically required along with an Associate or Fellow certification offered by the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for actuaries in 2021 was $105,900, with a projected 24% growth in demand.
As an economic analyst, economists forecast economic trends, develop models and write reports that help private companies make decisions. Economic analysts also work for federal government agencies collecting and analyzing data to help create spending projections.
Economists need high-level knowledge of mathematical models and statistical techniques to analyze large amounts of data. They typically need a master’s or Ph.D. degree in economics or mathematics, and some work experience involving statistical analysis software.
The BLS estimates the median annual salary for economists to be $94,710 as of May 2021, and projected employment in this area is expected to grow 13% between 2020 to 2030.
Personal financial advisors
Personal financial advisors help clients manage their personal finances. Advisors evaluate clients’ individual needs and recommend investments, insurance, retirement plans, mortgages, taxation and/or estate planning strategies that are consistent with the client’s financial goals.
Advisors develop long, intermediate and short-term plans, identify financial opportunities and help create budgets for educational expenses, retirement, savings or monthly debts.
Licensed advisors manage clients’ investments and other assets, including selling and buying stocks and bonds on behalf of their clients. As such, they are expected to have excellent communication skills and the ability to explain complex information to a wide variety of people.
Most personal financial advisors are self-employed. The median annual salary for personal financial advisors in 2021 was $94,710, and employment opportunities are projected to grow around 5% through 2030.
Management analysts, or management consultants, analyze a business’ procedures and recommend improvements to current processes.
Management analysts gather financial data — such as expenditures and revenue — to prepare documentation and advise executives in the implementation of new systems. They essentially look for ways to make an organization more profitable and efficient.
In 2021, management analysts earned a median salary of $93,000. Additionally, job opportunities in this field are expected to grow 14% between 2020 to 2030.
Financial analysts typically work for banks, insurance companies, asset management firms and private equity firms. They evaluate investment opportunities and recommend how to best diversify portfolios and generate profits.
Financial analysts assess risk and the performance of different types of investments, including hedge funds and mutual funds. In addition, financial analysts analyze budgets, financial models and projections.
The median annual salary for financial analysts in 2021 was $81,410, according to the BLS. Employment in this area is projected to grow 6% through 2030.
Financial examiners ensure that banks are legally compliant with the laws, policies and regulations that govern financial institutions. Most financial examiners work in risk assessment or consumer compliance.
Risk assessment examiners ensure that financial institutions are in good financial standing, and that banks have enough cash to offer loans and manage unexpected losses.
Consumer compliance examiners monitor banks’ lending practices, making sure they’re fair and that borrowers are treated fairly. This includes ensuring that borrowers aren’t discriminated against based on gender, race, ethnicity or other factors.
According to BLS, financial examiners earned a median annual salary of $81,410 in 2021, the equivalent of $39.14 per hour. The BLS also estimated that in 2020 there were 70,800 financial examiners jobs and projected a much faster than average growth rate of 18% through 2030.
Budget analysts prepare budgets and annual reports. They help public and private institutions — for example universities, private companies and government agencies — analyze their finances and recommend adjustments in spending or funding based on the organization's needs.
Budget analysts ensure that budget proposals abide by regulations, and that spending remains within budgeted limits. They also conduct cost-benefit analysis and forecast financial needs.
The median annual pay for budget analysts in 2021 was $79,940. Employment demand in this area is projected to grow 5%.
Accountants and auditors
Accountants and auditors ensure that businesses and individual clients’ financial information is accurate and complies with applicable regulations.
An accountant’s main responsibilities include preparing financial reports — such as balance sheets and income statements — and ensuring that tax information is accurate and filed on time. Some are also in charge of bookkeeping, invoices and recommend solutions to reduce costs or maximize profits.
Auditors, as the name implies, perform audits, examining financial records and offering guidance on how to improve internal controls. They can also perform forensic audits to detect fraud, embezzlement or intentional misstatements.
Aside from a degree in accounting, accountants and auditors typically need to become a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA). They might also need professional certifications, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).
The median annual salary for both accountants and auditors was $77,250 in 2021. The average growth rate for this career is projected to be around 7%.
Other well-paid finance careers
The following financial occupations are also well-paid with median annual salaries ranging from the low $60,000 to mid-$70,000.
- Logisticians: $77,030
- Insurance underwriters: $76,390
- Banking analyst: $74,463
- Cost estimators: $65,170
- Claims adjusters: $64,710
- Appraisers: $64,710
- Market research analysts: $63,920
- Loan officers: $63,380
- Investment bankers and/or brokers: $62,910
What do finance jobs pay?
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for finance professionals in the United States is $73,284. Average salaries range from $20,500 to more than $150,000 per year.
Below is a list of the best-paying finance jobs along with their median base salary and the typical educational requirements, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Finance Jobs||Median Base Salary (Annually)||Typical Educational Requirements|
|Financial Manager||$131,710||•Bachelor or master’s degree in related field. |
•Optional certifications: Financial Risk Management (FRM) and/or Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
|Financial Systems Director||$107,901||•Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or related fields. |
•Optional certifications: Oracle-Certified
|Actuary||$105,900||•Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, business or related field |
•Licensed by the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury
•Certified by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and/or the Society of Actuaries (SOA)
|Economic Analyst||$105,630||•Master’s degree in economics, statistics, business and related fields |
|Personal Financial Advisor||$94,170||•Bachelor’s degree |
•Optional certifications: Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
•Registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
|Management Analysts||$93,000||•Bachelor’s degree |
•Master’s degree in business administration preferred
•Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation
|Financial Analysts||$81,410||•Bachelor’s degree in business or related field. |
•Master’s degree preferred by some employers
•Optional certifications: Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
|Financial Examiners||$81,410||•Bachelor’s degree in business or related field. |
•Optional certifications: Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) and/or Certified Financial Examiner (CFE)
|Budget Analysts||$79,940||•Bachelor’s degree in business, mathematics, or related field. |
•Optional certifications: Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
|Accountants||$77,250||•Bachelor’s degree in accounting |
•Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license
•Optional certifications: Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Financial Forensics (CFF), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), and/or Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
|Auditors||$77,250||•Bachelor’s degree in accounting |
•Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license
•Optional certifications: Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and/or Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February and March 2022, there were roughly 500,000 jobs available in the financial industry.
These include a variety of roles ranging from entry-level positions in investment banking and financial institutions to top executive positions. Some common entry-level positions include brokers, equity analysts, risk analysts and loan officers.
Summary of Money’s best paying jobs in finance
- The highest-paying finance jobs includes financial managers, financial system directors, actuaries, economic analysts, personal financial advisors, management analysts, financial analysts, financial examiners, budget analysts, accountants and auditors.
- Most, but not all, finance jobs require a degree in business, finance, accounting or other related fields as well as career-specific certifications.
- Financial professionals can earn between $44,500 to $97,000, with some top earners earning $150,000 or more a year.
- The national average salary for financial professionals is $73,284.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in the financial industry are projected to grow 8% and generate about 750,800 new jobs through 2030.