Is a Career in Finance Right for You? (2024)

Is a Career in Finance Right for You? (1)

HBR Staff; Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images


If you’re considering a career in finance, a good way to get your foot in the door and build a strong foundation for your growth typically involves pursuing one of two paths: retail finance or institutional finance. How do you know which path is right for you? Consider the following:

  • Retail finance typically involves dealing with the general public. These professionals service customers that include individual investors and small businesses. The most notable designation for finance professionals working in this space is the CFP, certified financial planner.
  • Institutional finance generally refers to working with large institutions such as banks, hedge funds, and other business entities. The premier designation in this space is the CFA, chartered financial analyst.
  • Retail finance offers the flexibility of working in almost any locale. Institutional finance often implies that you’re an employee of a large institution, and you likely will have less opportunities to work remotely.
  • Retail finance, such as being an independent financial advisor, can mean working with new customers every day, but often doing so alone. Institutional finance usually means working on a team within a department that’s part of a larger department, meaning there is more of a hierarchy.
  • People in retail finance are more likely to obtain a bachelor’s and then pursue necessary insurance and investment licenses or designations specific to their career and clientele. People in institutional finance may have to obtain a master’s to move up the ladder.
  • The average salary for afinance major is $101,038. Pursuing a career as a financial advisor or another form of financial sales can go well beyond this number, whereas a career in corporate America or the government typically stays close to it.

“Can you speak another language?” The hiring manager read the puzzled look on my face.

Is a Career in Finance Right for You? (2024)


How do I know if a career in finance is right for me? ›

Finance Career Character Traits

If on the other hand, you love numbers, are good at math and Excel spreadsheets, and relish delving into the financials of a public company, then you might want to be an analyst. If you have both skill sets, a position as a financial advisor could suit you best.

Is finance a good career path for you? ›

Finance degree jobs can provide relatively high pay, stability, opportunities for advancement and consistent demand projections. Careers in finance may also offer flexibility for employees by allowing them to work remotely or in hybrid environments.

How do you know if finance is the right major for you? ›

If you are interested in solving problems in creative ways or helping companies to plan how to grow their revenue or maintain profitability, a finance major is right for you. A Bachelor of Science in Finance will help you develop multiple skillsets with a great outlook for success after your graduation.

Am I suited for finance? ›

If you're good at math or like to work with numbers, this may be the career to pursue. If you like to solve complex problems or if you are interested in organizing information, you might want to learn more about this career path.

How to know if finance isn't for you? ›

Still, a career in finance isn't for everyone. If talking about money bores you, for example, you might want to choose a different path. Similarly, if math was never your subject, it's not a dealbreaker, but it is a skill you'll need to practice regularly in this field.

How do you know if a career is right for you? ›

7 steps for choosing the right career path for you
  • Make a mind map. A mind map is a visual organization tool. ...
  • Take a personality test. ...
  • Rule out what doesn't interest you. ...
  • Research your options. ...
  • Prioritize your wants and needs. ...
  • Consult an adviser or mentor. ...
  • Try your best and believe in yourself.
Feb 3, 2023

What is the hardest finance job to get? ›

1. Investment Banker. Roles in investing banking are highly sought after. For investment bankers, it's often a higher competition to land a role in one of the largest firms.

What attracts you to a career in finance? ›

It offers a fast-paced, continuously challenging career

The adrenalin of deals (whether you're the client or broker) and the buzz of the trading floor and the pace of change - for the better or worse - means it can provide a highly stimulating career.

What are the cons of finance career? ›

Drawbacks of a career in finance can include high stress, long working hours, continuing education requirements, and, in some cases, limited job stability.

Which finance job pays the most? ›

Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs in Finance
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Investment banking.
  • Hedge fund manager.
  • Private equity associate.
  • Actuary.
Feb 6, 2024

Is it hard to get a job as a finance major? ›

Getting your foot in the door of a finance job isn't always easy. Start by getting part-time or full-time finance internships, ideally while you're still studying, to gain a competitive edge. As you rack up years of experience, your options will improve.

Is finance a happy major? ›

Overall, finance students rate their satisfaction with their degree a 3.1 out of 5.

What personality type is good for finance? ›

Known as “The Director” personality type, ENTJs are extroverted intuitives, and—like their introverted counterparts (INTJs)—they are well-suited for positions as financial executives or venture capitalists.

What type of person do you need to be in finance? ›

The majority of investment professionals have a Bachelor's Degree in Finance, Accounting or Economics. Investments advisers and bankers must also obtain a license to practice. Important skills for investment professionals include communication, negotiation and critical-thinking for working in a fast-paced environment.

How do you know if you are interested in finance? ›

For example, if you are interested in stocks, consider learning more about how to build a balanced portfolio. If you are thinking about a career in finance, think about learning about specific areas you would like to specialize in, such as investment banking or financial planning.

How do you know if you are in a good financial position? ›

Those who are financially healthy are successfully managing all aspects of their financial life. They have good to excellent credit, a handle on debt, an emergency savings fund and are on the right track for retirement.

How do I know if I'm doing OK financially? ›

Financial stability can be defined differently for each person, but there are some common indicators of being financially secure. Signs of financial stability include following a budget, living below your means, saving money consistently, prioritizing debt repayment, and paying bills on time.

What are the cons of a finance career? ›

They can include high stress, big responsibility, long working hours, continuing education requirements, and, in some cases, a lack of job security—the finance industry is generally quite cyclical.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated:

Views: 6034

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.