If you’re planning on pursuing a career in finance, earning a master’s degree will open up many opportunities for you. You’ll gain valuable knowledge surrounding topics like financial trading, economic environments, and global business, as well as expand upon your network of professional connections.
Unlike the broader Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program, the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) degree is designed for those who are specifically interested in the financial components of business. While you can still do some of the same finance work with an MBA, possessing an MSF will make you more of a specialist in the field, and therefore a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs.
Upon completion of your MSF program, you’ll be a more competitive candidate for high-paying careers at prestigious firms. So as you contemplate enrolling, let’s review what your career could look like after earning an MSF.
What kind of careers and salaries are possible with a Master of Science in Finance?
As with any industry, entry-level jobs in finance have lower salaries. But on average, they are higher than positions for entrants in many other fields. Most finance professionals start out earning $50,000 or more.
Below, you will find some of the most common occupations for people who have completed an MSF program, along with their average salaries, according to PayScale. It’s important to keep in mind that your earnings will largely depend on the state you live in. For example, the typical salary for a financial analyst in New York City is 12% higher than the national average.
This is a common entry-level job for graduates who have little working experience in the field. As a financial analyst, you’ll work for businesses like hedge funds, banks, and insurance companies. Your basic function will be to study financial trends in different markets, as well as keep an eye on political developments and changes to government regulations. This research will help your supervisors make smarter financial decisions for their clients, relating to things like investment opportunities, acquisitions, mergers, etc.
In your first year as a financial analyst, PayScale says that you’ll potentially earn an annual salary of $54,000. And after five years, it can jump up to around $68,000. The average salary for the most experienced financial analysts is $74,000 per year. Keep in mind you likely won’t remain a financial analyst forever, since it is an entry-level position.
This is one of the most prestigious titles in the finance industry, and it pays very well. As an investment banker, you’ll help raise capital for corporations and government entities. You’ll start by gaining an understanding of your client’s financial health and goals for the future. Then, you’ll raise funds by bringing in new investments from individuals or other businesses. This role requires a lot of experience and knowledge around investing in stocks and bonds, financial planning, and analyzing markets.
Starting out as an investment banker, your annual salary could be around $73,000. Then, after five years, it could jump up to $125,000 a year. Once you hit the 20-year mark, your annual salary could be as high as $150,000. Also, you’ll probably earn additional income via bonuses and commissions. On average, investment bankers earn $95,000 a year solely from commissions, according to PayScale.
Commercial credit analyst
When a business wants to borrow money from a financial institution to purchase necessities like office space, human labor, or production supplies, a commercial credit analyst will help determine the level of risk involved for the lender. In this role, you’ll analyze a company’s credit history, how its business works, and its projected growth. Your findings will help determine whether or not loans should be issued and establish terms for borrowers, such as how much interest they’ll pay. In most cases, you’ll need at least five years of experience in a related accounting or finance position to be eligible.
In your first couple of years, you can make around $55,000 annually. After 10 years, your salary may be closer to $65,000. Once you have 20 years of experience behind you, you’ll potentially earn around $70,000 a year, as reported by PayScale.
These professionals also work in risk management, but for insurance companies. Insurance underwriters research the financial background of a company or individual to determine how much of a liability they are. There are a variety of factors that specialists have to consider when dealing with potential policyholders. For instance, does their credit history suggest that they’ll consistently pay their monthly premiums? If so, the underwriter might recommend approving them for coverage. This role requires extensive knowledge of the insurance space and is usually the next step after working as an associate underwriter.
Insurance underwriters earn a base salary and commission. PayScale says that, on average, the annual salary for first-year underwriters is $53,000. Then, every ten years, the average jumps up another $10,000. With 20 years of experience, you can earn an annual base salary of $70,000. Commission generally adds an average of $6,000 to that total.
Like underwriters, actuaries help insurance companies determine how expensive their policies should be. However, instead of analyzing individual people or companies, they study the insurance market as a whole. As an actuary, you’ll provide data that can be used to measure financial risk and come up with reliable, fairly priced services. For example, if you work for a car insurance company, one of your tasks could be to put together a spreadsheet that shows accident rates by region from the past five years.
Actuaries, in their first couple of years, commonly earn an annual salary of $75,000. Then, after 10 years, the average jumps up to $122,000. Past the 20-year mark, you can potentially make up to $145,000 a year, as reported by PayScale.
This job involves selling securities, managing IPOs, and providing trading advice for clients. As a stock broker, your clients could be either individuals or businesses. You’ll use your knowledge of different markets to guide them toward wise investments. Unlike analyst positions, this role requires a lot of face-to-face interaction and verbal communication with clients. On top of your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree, you’ll need to complete your Series 7 exam, which will give you a license to engage in financial trading.
PayScale says that the average annual base salary for a stock broker is $55,903. However, every time you sell a stock, you’ll earn a commission, which averages $15,000 a year. After five years, your base salary could rise to around $65,000 annually. And after 20 years, you can make close to $100,000 a year before commission.
The accounting department is an essential part of any business. As an accountant, you’ll collaborate with other departments, maintain records, and write reports to show the status of your organization’s financial health. Your tasks will include performing internal audits, dealing with administrative payroll, and organizing bills for inventory and other expenses. This role demands a good understanding of mathematics and producing financial statements.
According to PayScale, first-year accountants make just under $50,000 a year. After five years, you can earn a steady $55,000 annually. And the average salary for accountants with 20 years of experience is $57,273.
All companies have financial goals. The financial manager’s job is to develop strategies and come up with solutions for minimizing risk so the business’s objectives are met. In this role, your day-to-day workflow will involve managing budgets and writing reports. You’ll make suggestions to your executives on how to cut costs, as well as frequently collaborate with auditors and bankers.
PayScale reports that financial managers in their first couple of years typically earn $63,000 annually. After a decade of experience, you might make closer to $80,000 a year. There are also commission and bonus opportunities, which can add up to an additional $9,000 a year.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
This C-level position is responsible for maintaining an organization’s financial stability. You’ll need many years of experience working in the industry before you’re eligible for a CFO role. Your expertise in accounting and financial planning will be imperative as you implement new strategies and improve upon current systems. You’ll be in charge of creating and enforcing policies that minimize risk and increase margins for your business.
In the first year, the average CFO makes around $90,000. After five years, you can potentially make around $115,000 annually. And once you have 20 years of experience behind you, your annual salary can be $150,000 or more, according to PayScale.
How to get a Master of Science in Finance
Before applying for an MSF program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Preferably, your degree will be in a related field, like business or economics, but it’s not necessarily a requirement.
Once you’re finished with your undergrad experience, it’s best to get some work experience before returning to school. Not only will this help your application, but it’ll also help you determine if finance is the right industry for you. By working an entry-level job or internship at a financial institution, you’ll get a good idea of what the day-to-day experience looks like for specific roles, which will help you set more focused goals. However, while it is helpful, work experience is not a requirement for all MSF programs.
What is generally required for acceptance? You’ll need to show your resume, write an application essay, and provide at least two letters of recommendation. You’ll also need to submit your transcript and prove that you graduated from college with at least a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). Finally, you may also be expected to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
Northeastern University’s Online Master of Science in Finance program
The Online MSF program at Northeastern University will equip you with the tools necessary for a successful career in finance. The curriculum, which covers a wide range of topics, consists of courses taught by finance industry experts with decades of experience. Once you graduate, you’ll be a competitive candidate for many jobs at banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.
In order for you to focus your area of study, the program is broken up into two tracks: investment finance and corporate finance. Here’s a review of what you can expect from each:
The investment finance track is curated for students who are specifically interested in working with securities. This is a good place to start if you see yourself becoming a stock broker. In your coursework, you’ll cover topics like:
- Equity and fixed-income securities
- Performance analysis
- Financial risk management
- Private wealth management
The corporate finance track focuses more on financial management and valuation. In other words, you’ll learn how to properly allocate funds for an organization, as well as methods for increasing profits and efficiency. This is a smart option if you plan on pursuing a career as an investment banker. Throughout the program, you’ll become well-versed in areas like:
- Business planning and analysis
- Strategic planning
- Treasury management
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Capital budgeting
Northeastern University’s Online MSF program is a convenient option for furthering your education. You can finish the entire course load in as few as 16 months from the comfort of your own home. If you’re still thinking about getting your MBA, consider Northeastern’s dual degree option, which is a hybrid of both programs.
You can learn more about Northeastern University’s Online MSF program by speaking with an enrollment advisor.