How To Become a Financial Manager (With Education and Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 28, 2022 | Published May 3, 2021

Updated March 28, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

If you're committed to a career in finance, then you may be interested in working as a financial manager. With the right combination of education, experience and skills, you can find success in this career and achieve job satisfaction. There are certain steps to becoming a financial manager for an organization, and it's important to learn more so you can plan on how to approach making a career in this role.

In this article, we explain what a financial manager is and what they do, share the important skills financial managers have, provide the average salary and job outlook for the role and explain how to become a financial manager.

Related: Your Guide To Careers in Finance

What is a financial manager?

A financial manager is a professional who is responsible for overseeing how an organization is faring financially. They work with company owners, executives and managers to share more about the financial health of the company through presentations, reports and budgets. Financial managers typically work in an office environment during normal business hours, although they may also need to work longer hours, especially during busy times of the year, like tax season. Although financial managers can work in the financial industry, like for banks and investment firms, they also find employment in many fields, from insurance to government.

What does a financial manager do?

A financial manager has several responsibilities, including:

  • Preparing financial reports and statements for upper management, executives and company owners

  • Sharing the financial health of the organization based on trends and data

  • Forecasting the financial needs and income of the business

  • Discovering opportunities for the business to reduce costs, earn more and meet long-term financial goals

  • Reviewing market trends to understand more about the industry and identify ways to expand the company

  • Using financial reports and data to advise management on key financial decisions

  • Overseeing the performance of other employees who work in accounting or finance for the organization

  • Keeping the organization in financial compliance

Foundational skills for a financial manager

If you want to become a financial manager, there are certain skills you'll likely benefit from developing so you can find success in your career, including:

  • Attention to detail

  • Communication

  • Math, including accounting

  • Analytical skills

  • Organization

  • Presentation

  • Management and leadership

  • Financial analysis

  • Data gathering

  • Financial reporting

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume (With Examples)

Financial manager salary and job outlook

The average salary for financial managers in the United States if $97,747 per year, although depending on where you live, you may realize a different annual earning. For example, financial managers in San Jose, California, report making an average of $137,854 per year, while those in the same position who live in Atlanta, Georgia, report annual earnings of $95,797 per year. Your experience level and education may also affect how much you make in this role.

As part of your compensation package, you may receive these common benefits from your employer:

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • Health insurance

  • Paid time off

  • Parental leave

  • Employee discount

  • Professional development assistance

  • Dental insurance

  • Employee assistance program

  • 401(k)

  • Disability insurance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for financial managers is positive, as the agency expects this role to grow by 15% through 2029, which is much quicker than the average for all other careers.

How to become a financial manager

To become a financial manager, consider these steps:

1. Earn a high school diploma

A high school diploma or equivalent is the first step toward becoming a financial manager. Because most employers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a related field, consider completing business and economics courses, as well as varying math classes so you can start your knowledge of the industry prior to college. You may also have the opportunity to join interest groups in school, which can prepare you for work you complete in a college major program.

2. Earn a bachelor's degree or higher

Explore your degree options at the college or university of your choosing, and think of opting to major in finance, accounting, business administration, economics or a related degree path. It's likely employers will require one of these degrees for employment as a financial manager. When you share your education on your resume, consider including some of the most relevant courses for the role, which may include securities, financial planning, microeconomics and general business.

You may also opt to get your master's degree in one of these fields, which can make you feel more equipped for your chosen career and set you apart from other candidates by appealing to hiring managers. By earning a master's degree, you're showcasing your advanced knowledge and proficiency in important subjects for the industry. Common courses for master's programs in a finance-related field include financial modeling, global markets, financial theory and finance principles.

Read more: Finance Degrees: What Are Your Options?

3. Gain experience in the field

Another crucial step to becoming a financial manager is to gain relevant work experience. While working toward becoming a financial manager, you can begin by working in finance at a business, whether you work as a bank teller or are a part of your company's accounts receivable team. You can even consider working in insurance sales, as an underwriter or in the position of loan officer, budget analyst or personal financial advisor.

Related experience not only prepares you for the role you want to work in, but it also helps you meet the requirements for certification. Experience also exposes you to professionals in the industry who can serve as your guide, answering questions and providing advice, and who may be able to give you insight into the industry and write your recommendation letters.

Read more: Work Experience and Your Career: Definition, Importance and Tips

4. Complete a certification program

While the employers you apply with may not require that you hold any certifications, you may see this qualification under their preferred list of candidate experience. Certifications are a good idea if you want to make sure hiring managers know you have the competency to be successful in the role. There are a variety of certifications you can earn in this field, but some of the most popular are:

  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA)

  • Certified treasury professional (CTP)

  • Certified public accountant (CPA)

To choose the certification you want to pursue, research more about the requirements to sit for the exam and what career path is best served by the certification. For example, if you ultimately want to work for an investment firm as a finance manager, then the CFA certification may be one to strongly consider. Each certification comes with its own set of qualifications you must meet before attempting the exam. It's common to need at least a bachelor's degree in the field and a certain number of years of experience.

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