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Working as a Finance Analyst

You know how it's smart to invest your money? Well, the brains behind that operation is a finance analyst. Essentially, they're in charge of advising and supporting investment decisions of individuals and businesses.

Most finance analysts work full-time, but some work even more than that. The typical finance analyst enters the career having earned a bachelor's degree. With the extra education, employers tend to invest a lot of their dime to pay finance analysts. So having the higher education definitely pays off.

What Does a Finance Analyst Do

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.


Financial analysts typically do the following:

  • Recommend individual investments and collections of investments, which are known as portfolios
  • Evaluate current and historical financial data
  • Study economic and business trends
  • Examine a company’s financial statements to determine its value
  • Meet with company officials to gain better insight into the company’s prospects
  • Assess the strength of the management team
  • Prepare written reports

Financial analysts evaluate investment opportunities. They work in banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies, and other businesses. Financial analysts are also called securities analysts and investment analysts.

Financial analysts can be divided into two categories: buy-side analysts and sell-side analysts.

  • Buy-side analysts develop investment strategies for companies that have a lot of money to invest. These companies, called institutional investors, include mutual funds, hedge funds, insurance companies, independent money managers, and nonprofit organizations with large endowments, such as some universities.
  • Sell-side analysts advise financial services sales agents who sell stocks, bonds, and other investments.

Some analysts work for the business media or other research houses, which are independent from the buy and sell side.

Financial analysts generally focus on trends affecting a specific industry, geographical region, or type of product. For example, an analyst may focus on a subject area such as the energy industry, a world region such as Eastern Europe, or the foreign exchange market. They must understand how new regulations, policies, and political and economic trends may affect investments.

Investing is becoming more global, and some financial analysts specialize in a particular country or region. Companies want those financial analysts to understand the language, culture, business environment, and political conditions in the country or region that they cover.

The following are examples of types of financial analysts:

Portfolio managers select the mix of products, industries, and regions for their company’s investment portfolio. These managers are responsible for the overall performance of the portfolio. They are also expected to explain investment decisions and strategies in meetings with stakeholders.

Fund managers work exclusively with hedge funds or mutual funds. Both fund and portfolio managers frequently make buy or sell decisions in reaction to quickly changing market conditions.

Ratings analysts evaluate the ability of companies or governments to pay their debts, including bonds. On the basis of their evaluation, a management team rates the risk of a company or government not being able to repay its bonds.

Risk analysts evaluate the risk in investment decisions and determine how to manage unpredictability and limit potential losses. This job is carried out by making investment decisions such as selecting dissimilar stocks or having a combination of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a portfolio.

How To Become a Finance Analyst

Financial analysts typically must have a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is often required for advanced positions.


Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. A number of fields of study provide appropriate preparation, including accounting, economics, finance, statistics, and mathematics. For advanced positions, employers often require a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a master’s degree in finance. Knowledge of options pricing, bond valuation, and risk management are important.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the main licensing organization for the securities industry. It requires licenses for many financial analyst positions. Most of the licenses require sponsorship by an employer, so companies do not expect individuals to have these licenses before starting a job.

Certification is often recommended by employers and can improve the chances for advancement. An example is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification from the CFA Institute. Financial analysts can become CFA certified if they have a bachelor’s degree, 4 years of qualified work experience, and pass three exams. Financial analysts can also become certified in their field of specialty.


Financial analysts typically start by specializing in a specific investment field. As they gain experience, they can become portfolio managers, who select the mix of investments for a company’s portfolio. They can also become fund managers, who manage large investment portfolios for individual investors. A master’s degree in finance or business administration can improve an analyst’s chances of advancing to one of these positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Financial analysts must process a range of information in finding profitable investments.

Communication skills. Financial analysts must explain their recommendations to clients in clear language that clients can easily understand.

Computer skills. Financial analysts must be adept at using software packages to analyze financial data, see trends, create portfolios, and make forecasts.

Decisionmaking skills. Financial analysts must provide a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell a security.

Detail oriented. Financial analysts must pay attention to details when reviewing possible investments, as small issues may have large implications for the health of an investment.

Math skills. Financial analysts use mathematical skills when estimating the value of financial securities. 

To be successful, financial analysts must be motivated to seek out obscure information that may be important to the investment. Many work independently and must have self-confidence in their judgment.

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Average Salary$71,265
Job Growth Rate6%

Finance Analyst Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Finance Analyst

Finance Analysts in America make an average salary of $71,265 per year or $34 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $100,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $50,000 per year.
Average Salary

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
New York, NY
Salary Range63k - 107k$82k$82,451
Stamford, CT
Salary Range60k - 103k$79k$78,934
Richmond, CA
Salary Range58k - 92k$73k$73,137
Jersey City, NJ
Salary Range53k - 90k$70k$69,521
Boston, MA
Salary Range51k - 91k$68k$68,377
Seattle, WA
Salary Range55k - 82k$67k$67,460

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Finance Analyst Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Finance Analyst. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Finance Analyst Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Finance Analyst resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Finance Analyst Demographics



51.5 %


40.5 %


7.9 %



70.4 %


12.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


34.2 %


11.2 %


10.3 %
See More Demographics

Finance Analyst Education


29.3 %
28.5 %



51.5 %


38.9 %


3.4 %

Top Colleges for Finance Analysts

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

4. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Public

In-State Tuition

5. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

6. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Public

In-State Tuition

7. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition

9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public

In-State Tuition

10. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
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Top Skills For a Finance Analyst

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 21.7% of finance analysts listed financial statements on their resume, but soft skills such as computer skills and analytical skills are important as well.

  • Financial Statements, 21.7%
  • Financial Models, 4.6%
  • Special Projects, 4.1%
  • Variance Analysis, 3.7%
  • Business Partners, 3.4%
  • Other Skills, 62.5%
  • See All Finance Analyst Skills

Best States For a Finance Analyst

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a finance analyst. The best states for people in this position are New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California. Finance analysts make the most in New York with an average salary of $82,351. Whereas in Connecticut and New Jersey, they would average $79,609 and $69,172, respectively. While finance analysts would only make an average of $68,398 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total Finance Analyst Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New York

Total Finance Analyst Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Massachusetts

Total Finance Analyst Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Finance Analyst Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ finance analysts and discovered their number of finance analyst opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Ernst & Young was the best, especially with an average salary of $97,816. Robert Half International follows up with an average salary of $71,300, and then comes IBM with an average of $93,043. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a finance analyst. The employers include Ally Financial, Consumers Energy, and Stanford University

1. Ernst & Young
Avg. Salary: 
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2. Robert Half International
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3. IBM
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4. Citi
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5. Lockheed Martin
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6. Bank of America
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Updated October 2, 2020