Financial analysts use research and analytical procedures to make investment decisions for individuals and institutions. The research includes analyzing data and building spreadsheets. Newly minted financial analysts can expect high starting salaries but may find themselves without a lot of free time in which to spend the money.
Average Starting Salaries
PayScale Inc. surveyed more than 6,300 respondents and reported in April 2011 that financial analysts with less than one year of experience earned salaries ranging from $39,000 to more than $51,000 a year. PayScale data further indicated that analysts with one to four years' of experience earned salaries ranging from $43,000 to $58,000 a year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2009, the most recent year for which salary data were available, that the lowest-paid 10 percent of financial analysts, which may include newcomers to the profession, earned an average of $44,080 a year.
Many employers of financial analysts, including investment firms, pay yearly performance bonuses in addition to annual salaries. Bonus compensation enables employers to attract and retain top talent, including outstanding analysts. The Princeton Review has reported that some bonuses may equal or even exceed an analyst’s starting salary.
Financial analysts become senior analysts or associates after about three or four years of experience, according to Princeton Review. With the promotion comes a higher salary. The BLS reported in 2009 that the average salary for all financial analysts exceeded $85,000 a year in 2009. Top analysts earn more than $139,000 a year, the bureau reported.
Working as a financial analyst may be a lucrative career but requires long hours. The Princeton Review reported that analysts bear a heavy reading load, as they must stay abreast of developments in the business and financial world, reading news stories in financial publications and reviewing corporate earnings reports. In addition, they may have to travel to meet with managers and directors of companies.
The Princeton Review reports that competition for entry-level financial analyst jobs is intense and that aspiring financial professionals must have at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the BLS, that degree can be in business, finance, accounting, economics, computer science or a related field. Analysts must be able to handle a heavy workload and meet strict deadlines. In addition, many financial analyst jobs require licensing or certification, such as a chartered financial analyst designation from the CFA Institute. However, the BLS points out that many such licenses require employer sponsorship; consequently, many analysts seek licensing after being hired.