If poring over volumes of research, analyzing data and gauging the value of companies sounds interesting to you, then financial analysis may be your dream job. Financial analysts spend long hours engaged in these activities and then use their analysis to advise clients on investment choices. “U.S. News and World Report” ranked financial analyst as one of the best careers of 2011 and noted strong average earnings for this profession. Financial analysts’ salaries average more than $80,000 a year, according to U.S. News. Starting salaries are lower but still competitive, with room for growth.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2009 that annual salaries for financial analysts averaged $85,240. This average includes financial analysts across all levels of experience and does not necessarily reflect starting salaries. Data from the BLS indicated that salaries ranged from a low of $44,080 a year for the bottom 10 percent to a high of more than $139,000 a year for the top 10 percent.
PayScale Inc., in a survey of more than 7,000 respondents, indicated that salaries for many financial analysts averaged between $44,000 and $63,000 a year, which may be an accurate reflection of starting salaries in this profession. The website reported that more than 70 percent of its respondents had less than four years of experience. Beginning analysts’ salaries ranged from $38,927 to more than $51,000 a year, PayScale reported.
Salaries by Degree
Beginning a career as a financial analyst requires the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, accounting, economics or a related field. Some employers may require a master of business administration (MBA) degree. The level of degree influences a financial analyst’s starting salary. Data from PayScale indicated that analysts with bachelor’s degrees could earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, while MBA recipients could earn more than $68,000 a year.
Beginning financial analysts should expect to earn a license or certification such as the chartered financial analyst designation from the CFA Institute. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that analysts generally earn certifications after they are hired because the CFA and other designations require sponsorship by an employer.