Becoming a Finance Manager: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a finance manager's career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a finance manager is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career as a Finance Manager

Finance managers supervise a business's cash flow, overlook loan applications, write financial reports and oversee the approval and the rejection of lines of credit. Read some more pros and cons of the profession to find out of its right for you.

Pros of Being a Finance Manager
High salary (median annual wages of $115,320 in 2014)*
Bachelor's degree can be sufficient education for some positions*
Can work in various settings (healthcare, government, business and scientific services)*

Cons of Being a Finance Manager
Just average job growth overall (projected nine percent from 2012-2022)*
Many employers prefer a master's degree*
Some jobs require extensive experience (3-7 years)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job Postings on Careerbuilder.com.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Financial managers help set financial goals, study financial data and manage employees in the financial department. Finance managers can also offer advice to managers about how to increase revenue. They are expected to be knowledgeable about duties specific to their particular industry, such as government or healthcare. A finance manager may be designated under several different titles, including credit manager, controller, finance officer, risk manager and cash manager.

Credit managers are in charge of setting credit limits, collecting past-due accounts and creating criteria for credit-ratings. Finance officers supervise investments, help businesses to expand and plan acquisitions and mergers. Cash managers analyze how funds flow in and out of a company in order to make sure that the company's financial goals are being met. Controllers assist with such financial reports as balance sheets, income statements and expense reports.

Career Prospects & Salary Info

From 2012-2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that finance managers overall were predicted to experience a nine percent employment growth, which is relatively equal to the average of other occupations. Those working in credit intermediation roles were expected to see a meager increase in job growth of 5%. In 2014, the BLS stated that financial managers earned a median annual salary of about $115,320.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Experience

A bachelor's degree in a subject like financial management, accounting, business administration or accounting is typically the minimum requirement for a career in financial management. While enrolled in a financial management program, courses could focus on marketing fundamentals, capital management, financial planning, business law, microeconomics and insurance planning. Business administration programs may instruct students on statistics, business finance, strategic management and income taxation.

Relevant work experience is commonly required if you want to be considered for a management position. As an aspiring finance manager, you may want to consider gaining experience in another financial occupation, such as accountant, financial analyst or loan officer. Additionally, a master's degree is becoming preferred among employers of financial managers.

Useful Skills

Individuals hoping to become financial managers should have knowledge of customer service as well as sales and marketing. Other useful skills could include areas like:

  • Mathematics
  • Organization
  • Management
  • Attention to detail
  • Decision-making

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers are commonly looking for finance managers that have at least a bachelor's degree and have about 3-7 years of relevant work experience. Some form of industry certification could be required, and a master's degree could be preferred. Following are job positions open in May 2012:

  • A client in Austin, TX, posted for an experienced finance manager to review, analyze and ensure the accuracy of the financial and statistical reports. You would also manage the budget, coordinate audits, prepare financial statements and coordinate the work of the staff. For this position, an Master of Business Administration (MBA) was preferred, along with 3-5 years of experience and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential.
  • A chemical and utility company in San Leon, TX, advertised for a senior financial manager with several years of experience. Responsibilities would include the improvement and implementation of financial and management information systems, as well as working with regional and local general managers. A bachelor's degree and proficiency in Microsoft Excel were required.
  • A publicly-traded company in Baton Rouge, LA, advertised for a full-time finance manager who would be responsible for retrieving data from the company's integrated data repository and other company supported databases, and developing analytical tools, models and reports that support daily, weekly, monthly and ongoing plan management activities. At least a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting was required, but an MBA was preferred.

How to Stand Out in the Field

According to the BLS, a financial manager with a master's degree and certification will have the best job prospects. Having a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a master's degree in economics, business administration or accounting is preferred by many employers and could help you advance in the field.

Although certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) through The CFA Institute isn't mandatory, this certification is sought by some professionals in the field. Certification as a CPA might be preferred or required by some employers. In almost all states, this certification requires you to have completed at least 150 credit hours of postsecondary coursework. This can be completed through a master's degree, but a master's degree isn't mandatory. Additionally, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) offers the Certified Government Financial Manager certification.

Other Career Paths

Accountant

If you want to work in finance but you aren't interested in management duties, you may consider becoming an accountant. Accountants review financial records, prepare tax returns and offer financial advice to clients and employers. Accountants can work with the government, make sure that an organization's money is being used properly, handle financial records and may also have their own business. A bachelor's degree in accounting is typically all that's required for such a position, though CPA certification and a master's degree may sometimes be required. In 2011, reported that accountants and auditors together earned a median annual salary of about $63,000. From 2010-2020, they were expected to see an average job growth of about 16%.

Top Executive

If you're interested in high salaries and the responsibilities of managing others, then you might consider becoming a top executive, such as a chief financial officer. These professionals are expected to see a slower-than-average job growth of five percent from 2010-2020, but in 2011, the BLS reported that chief executives earned a median annual salary of about $167,000. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in a field of business and several years of work experience, though master's degrees are becoming more common.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Finance - Financial Analysis
      • MS in Finance
      • MS in Finance - Financial Planning
      • MBA: Finance
      • Master - Accounting
      • MS in Accounting- Tax Specialization
    Bachelor's
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
      • BS in Finance
      • BS in Finance - General Finance
      • BSBA in Financial Analysis
      • BS in Finance - Investments
      • Bachelor: Accounting
    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
    Certificate
      • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Campus Locations:
    4. American National University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
    Associate's
      • Business Administration Management - Associate
    Certificate
      • Accounting - Diploma
      • Business Administration - Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Bookkeeping
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Notre Dame de Namur University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Kindom Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Finance
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • MS - Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Accounting
      • BS - Business Management
    Certificate
      • Graduate Specialization - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance
      • Master of Business Administration - General
      • Master of Business Administration - Undecided

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MS in Finance - Financial Analysis
  • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
  • Associate: Accounting
  • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization
  • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization

What is your highest level of education completed?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Government Analytics

What is your highest level of education?

American National University

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Business Administration Management - Associate
  • Accounting - Diploma

What is your education level?

Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Bookkeeping

What is your highest level of education?

Notre Dame de Namur University

  • Masters in Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Business

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master of Finance
  • BS - Accounting
  • Graduate Specialization - Accounting

What is your highest level of education?