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. 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
    2. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
      • Master of Business Administration: Taxation
      • Master of Science in Taxation
      • Master of Business Administration: Risk Management & Insurance
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD in Business Admin - Financial Management
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Financial Management
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Advanced Accounting
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
    Master's
      • MBA - Financial Management
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • Master of Science in Accounting
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - International Business
  • Online Programs Available
    4. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • MBA - Accounting
      • Master of Accountancy
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Dual MBA-MHA
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Finance
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Finance
      • Bachelor of Business Admin - Accounting
      • Bachelor of Accounting
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Seton Hall University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance
      • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
      • Master of Science Professional Accounting
      • Master of Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Finance and Accounting
      • Masters of Science in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
      • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
      • MBA - General
      • MBA - Insurance and Risk Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
    Certificate
      • Financial Crimes Investigator Certificate
      • Financial Crime and Compliance Operations Cert
      • Securities Compliance Cert
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Finance
      • B.A. - Accounting
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • 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

Colorado State University Global

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

What is your highest level of education?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Master of Business Administration: Taxation

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Admin - Financial Management
  • Doctor of Business Admin - Financial Management
  • MBA - Financial Management
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business

What is your highest level of education?

The University of Scranton

  • Master of Science in Finance
  • MBA - Accounting
  • Master of Accountancy

What is your highest level of education?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance

What is your highest level of education completed?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Finance
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Finance
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

Seton Hall University

  • Master of Business Administration - Finance
  • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
  • Master of Science Professional Accounting

What is your highest level of education?

Utica College

  • MBA - Finance and Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • Financial Crimes Investigator Certificate

What is your highest level of education completed?