If you’re considering a career in finance, you’re probably wondering what it takes to qualify for an entry-level job in the sector. Careers in finance are plentiful and varied, so you’ll find finance jobs in just about every industry and organization.
Below is a sample of entry-level jobs as well as a look at the education and skills needed to get your foot in the door.
Financial data analyst
Financial data analysts study information, identify relevant insights, and compile them into financial reports. These reports summarize crucial information and provide forward-thinking forecasts that help managers make decisions. They often collect information from several departments within an organization, so the data they analyze often has non-financial as well as financial components. They need to be comfortable compiling, interpreting and reporting on information on a wide range of topics.
Financial data analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or a related field.
- The ability to work independently or collaboratively
- Critical thinking
Loan officers work with individuals and organizations to advise them on financing options and authorize loans. They help enable people to make big purchases like college, cars, homes, businesses, and more. Loan officers may work in banks, credit unions, mortgage companies or car dealerships. The job involves a lot of paperwork and managing deadlines, but it also requires exceptional interpersonal skills.
Loan officers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field such as finance, economics, or accounting. They will also need a mortgage loan originator’s license, which involves passing an exam, fulfilling education requirements, and background and credit checks.
- An understanding of banking and credit
- Computer literacy
- Solid people skills
Junior tax associate
Tax associates assist individuals and businesses with the preparation of their federal and state income tax compliance. They may be employed by financial services companies or accounting firms. The job involves interviewing clients about their income and expenses, reviewing supporting documentation, researching tax issues, and looking for ways to minimize the client’s tax liability through the use of deductions and credits.
Tax associate positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Tax associates may have more job options with a professional credential, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or advanced educational qualifications, such as a master’s degree in taxation.
- Excellent accounting skills
- Experience with tax preparation software
- Strong customer service and communication skills
- Able to manage multiple projects and deadlines
A financial auditor reviews a company’s financial statements, supporting data, and accounting entries. By doing this, auditors ensure that the company’s financial statements are in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). They may need to gather information from a variety of sources including the company’s financial reporting system, internal control systems, and interviews with management, accounting and finance personnel, and company executives.
Financial auditor positions typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. Candidates can gain experience from in-school internships.
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking
- Comfortable presenting recommendations to management
- Attention to detail
- Extremely organized
Investment banking analyst
Investment banking analysts review the investment portfolios of individuals and companies and offer ideas or solutions to diversify or enhance the portfolios. The position requires keeping a close eye on the finances of the organization, analyzing cash flow, and making projections about the organization’s finances.
Investment banking analysts usually have a bachelor’s degree in finance or economics.
- Able to handle a high-stress environment
- Detail oriented
- Willing to work long hours
- Understanding of financial statements and ratios
- Strong communication and networking skills
There are some pretty amazing opportunities in accounting and finance. Whichever route you choose, remember that finance is a big industry. If you don’t find a great fit right in your first entry-level role, you have the flexibility to move around and try something new.
Curious what you can expect to earn in these roles? Learn more about the accounting and finance job market and scope out salaries in our latest Accounting & Finance Career Guide.