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Financial Analyst: Educational Requirements for Financial Analysts

Financial analysts gather and evaluate industry and economic fiscal data to predict investment performance. Their findings are used by businesses and individuals to make decisions about stocks, bonds and other financial stakes. Financial analysts may work for financial institutions, corporations, insurance groups and securities companies.

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Financial Analyst Educational Requirements

The minimum requirement for a career in financial analysis is a bachelor's degree. Some employers prefer to hire financial analysts with master's degrees. Additionally, employers typically prefer applicants with professional certification and may require licensure.

Bachelor's Degree

Financial analysts are generally required to hold at least bachelor's degrees in finance, business or related fields. Bachelor of Science in Finance programs provide students with theoretical and analytical skills needed for careers in finance and business. Courses may include:

  • Managerial finance
  • Investment analysis
  • Statistics
  • Financial markets
  • International business
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Business law and ethics

Master's Degree

While undergraduate degrees are sufficient for many positions, some require that financial analysts hold graduate degrees. Master of Business Administration programs, for example, typically take two years to complete and provide advanced instruction in business theory and management. Students generally focus their studies on one specialty, such as finance, marketing or project management.

Certification

The CFA Institute offers a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation to qualified professionals. To enroll in the certification program, applicants must be CFA Institute members and have completed or be in the final year of a bachelor's degree program (www.cfainstitute.org). They then study for and pass three examinations, a process which can take 2-5 years to complete. Before being granted the CFA designation, financial analysts must have earned at least four years of professional investment experience.

Licensure

Financial analysts involved in regulated services, such as legal advising or selling stocks, bonds or insurance, may be required to obtain licensure. They usually pursue securities licensure through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, though different licenses may be required to perform other services. Rather than being a prerequisite, licensure is typically acquired during employment; financial analysts generally must be sponsored by their employers to become licensed.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 16% job growth for financial analysts in the years 2012 through 2022. Financial analysts earned $78,380 as a median annual wage in 2013, according to the BLS.

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