Becoming a Financial Analyst – An Overview

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If you have strong analytical, math, computer and communication skills, you might want to consider becoming a financial analyst. You’ll also need to be detail-oriented and good at making decisions based on collating a substantial amount of information. This is a well-paid position that will continue to see growth in the years ahead.

What Exactly is this Occupation?

As a financial analyst, you might work with individuals or with businesses, providing information that will help them with their investments. You’ll keep an eye on different types of investments, including stocks and bonds, as well as economic trends, financial data and individual companies. Given the global nature of the investment market, even political situations may factor into your analysis. You might focus on one industry or region. There are several other names for this career path, including investment or securities analyst. Depending on your specialty, your job title might also be fund or portfolio manager or risk or ratings analyst.

Where do they Work?

You might work for a bank or a security firm, for an insurance company or for mutual or pension funds. If you’re looking for a quiet rural lifestyle in a small town, this might not be the right job for you since there are many more positions in large financial centers worldwide. The 24/7 nature of international finance means that you won’t leave your job at 5 p.m. each day. However, this is a career that can be both financially and intellectually rewarding.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in a number of fields can prepare you for entry-level work as a financial analyst. You might want to pursue a degree in math, accounting, statistics or economics among others. A bachelor’s degree can be expensive, but there are grants, scholarships and loans that can help you pay for it. Your first step should be to find out how much aid you can get from the federal government by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are a number of online tools that can help you locate scholarships you may be eligible for. 

Even with this assistance, many people need to take out additional loans. Both your local credit union or bank and online lenders may offer favorable interest rates and repayment plans. Online lenders are more likely to have a streamlined application process and may have alternative ways of assessing creditworthiness that make them more accessible to people who do not have strong traditional credit records. You could also ask someone to cosign for your loan. Eventually, you may want to seek a master’s degree since this can improve your prospects for advancing in the field.

Licensing and Certification

Certification, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst certificate, can also position you for advancement. A CFA certification requires a combination of work experience, education and exams. If you are selling financial products, you may need to be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. You need to be sponsored by an employer in order to obtain many of the licenses offered by FINRA.

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