How to Become a Financial Analyst

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 14, 2020

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Interested in a career as a financial analyst? It’s a role that’s worth considering if you enjoy finance and numbers. You can help businesses or clients you serve better manage their investments and build wealth. Here’s Benzinga’s guide on how to become a financial analyst. 

Financial Analyst Overview

Before pursuing a career as a financial analyst, it’s best to know what the journey entails. You should also have a solid grasp on what your roles and responsibilities will look like when you enter the field, along with how much you will be compensated. 

Job Description

Financial analysts help individuals and businesses make informed investment decisions. Often, they are referred to as investment or securities analysts and perform many essential tasks, like analyzing the current and historical performance of stocks, bonds and other investments. They also evaluate business and economic trends and create written reports to share with their clients or management.

Choose to work as a fund manager, portfolio manager, ratings analyst or risk analyst. Expect to work in office settings and visit client sites on occasion. Also, be mindful that some financial analyst roles command lengthier working hours that span beyond 40 hours a week. 

Salary Information

On average, financial analysts earn $85,660 per year. This breaks down to $41.18 per hour. 

Here are the average salaries for the top industries that employ financial analysts: 

  • Company and enterprise management: $83,640 
  • Credit intermediation: $81,420
  • Insurance carriers: $78,870
  • Scientific and technical services: $84,540
  • Securities, commodity contracts and financial investments: $101,410

Education Requirements

To qualify for a financial analyst role, you will need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, mathematics, economics or a related field. It’s also ideal if you have some real-world experience when you apply. This could be from an internship or another finance role. 

Your employer may also expect you to obtain the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to remain in the role. To get the CFA charter, you need a bachelor’s degree and at least 4 years of work experience. You must also sit for and pass 3 exams. 

A master’s degree helps you climb the corporate ladder faster or expand your business if you wish to venture out on your own. With the CFA designation under your belt, you can land a role as a fund or portfolio manager. 

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average growth rate for financial analysts through 2028 is 6%. This is standard for many other industries.

Steps to Becoming a Financial Analyst 

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to become a financial analyst. 

Enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree Program

The first step towards becoming a financial analyst is earning your bachelor’s degree. Any degree probably won’t suffice in the eyes of employers. They typically prefer candidates with a degree in finance, accounting, mathematics or economics. 

There are several viable colleges and universities to choose from, but you want an institution that’s accredited and affordable. It also helps if instructors are leaders in their field. 

If you have an associate’s degree or college credits, look for degree completion programs or schools that allow transfer credits. 

Continue Your Education 

Online courses can help supplement what you’re learning in the classroom. They are also an excellent way to enhance your knowledge before entering the field. You can start preparing for the CFA exams far in advance with review courses. 

A quick search will yield options for all skill levels at a price you can afford.

Get Licensed 

Courses aren’t the only way to prepare for the CFA exams. You should soak up as much knowledge as you can through your employer. Many offer in-house training opportunities to bring you up to speed with the latest industry developments and break down more complex concepts. 

Learn best practices by observing what others are doing and implement these strategies and tactics to better familiarize yourself and boost your knowledge as you prepare for the exams. It doesn’t hurt to ask your coworkers.

Best Universities for Becoming a Financial Analyst

Consider these online finance degree programs to prepare you for a career as a financial analyst. 

1. Penn State University World Campus 


Get an online Bachelor of Science from Penn State University World Campus. It’s accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). The curriculum dives into capital, investment and portfolio management, financial institutions, and many other vital financial principles while preparing you for the CFA exams. 

2. University of Maryland 


The University of Maryland offers an online bachelor’s degree in finance. Students are introduced to the essentials of finance theory and basic finance, financial management, accounting, economics, and business principles. You will also be equipped with the skills needed to prepare, analyze, and interpret financial data, implement economic and financial theories to make sound business decisions and manage portfolios by applying security marketing principles. 

Below are a few finance courses to enhance your financial knowledge. 

1. The Complete Financial Analyst Course 2020 

Source: Udemy

Offered by 365 Careers, this bestselling course from Udemy teaches the mechanics of financial analysis from the ground up. You will learn the basics of finance, accounting, financial statements and ratios, capital budgeting and so much more. The enrollment fee of $10.99 includes full lifetime access to 17.5 hours of on-demand video lectures, 13 articles, and 476 downloadable resources.

2. Exam Prep: CFA® Level 1 Bootcamp 2020 Curriculum (Part 1/2)

Source: Udemy

Another Udemy bestseller, Exam Prep: CFA® Level 1 Bootcamp 2020 Curriculum (Part 1/2) is suitable for current and futureCFA® Level 1 candidates. The course focuses on alternative investments, corporate finance, economics, ethical and professional standards and quantitative methods. 

It’s the first installment of the series from 365 Careers and can help you pass the CFA exams on the first attempt. Register today to unlock 372 lectures jam-packed into 26 hours of on-demand video, 36 articles and 55 downloadable resources. You will also receive a certificate of completion when you reach the finish line. 

The course is also presented by 365 Careers and facilitated by Ivan Kitov, a CFA charter holder. A seat in this course is only $9.99 and includes full lifetime access to the material.

Prepare for a Career as a Financial Analyst Today 

A career as a financial analyst is worth pursuing. Take the first step toward making your dreams a reality by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. Consider our top recommendations and narrow your options before making a decision. It’s also a sound idea to supplement your continuing education with an online course that breaks down complex concepts introduced in the classroom. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community