Finance Major Salaries: What Do Finance Jobs Pay?
Jobs in the finance industry are some of the most attractive for business school graduates, offering fast career progression, a fast-paced work environment, and high salaries.
A bachelor's degree in finance can help you break into the industry, but a finance major like a Master of Finance can open up new opportunities, accelerate your career progression, and help you access higher-paying jobs in finance.
So, how much could your earning potential grow after a Master of Finance? And what are the highest-paying finance jobs?
Why Study a Master's Degree in Finance?
A Master of Finance program will get you up to speed on the fundamentals of finance – including data analytics, mathematics, and financial accounting – and offer you the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of finance, like big data, venture capital, or risk management.
Compared to a bachelor's degree in finance, a master's program will also set you up to work in some top-paying finance jobs.
Exposure to real-life business challenges during group projects and internships puts Master of Finance grads in good stead to excel in their job, fast-track their career, and secure a high finance degree salary.
"The value of a MiF is that it enables a graduate to move up the ladder more quickly than a bachelor's degree alone,” says Laurent Deville, director of the Financial Economics track at EDHEC Business School.
By equipping you with a diverse skill set, a deeper understanding of trends in the financial sector than a bachelor's degree, and an extensive network, a Master of Finance can help you access the more skill-intensive and higher-paying areas of finance like trading, investments, and risk management.
As Laurent concludes, "The MiF is a no-brainer. It will give you the expertise that is in demand in the profession, and it's an industry requirement.”
Future Career Prospects After Finance Majors
After graduating from your finance program, you will be well-equipped for finance jobs in all areas of the financial industry, from hedge fund management to investment banking. If you have studied a more specialized finance major, you'll be able to target more niche roles.
"A Masters in Finance allows our students to pursue more tailored careers in the finance industry as they are able to apply to more specialist positions,” explains Dr. Lara Cathcart, academic director of the MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School.
Master of Finance grads find exciting roles in areas like investment banking, asset management, consulting, venture capital, and private equity. The finance major starting salary in these roles is typically six figures.
Potential jobs that you could secure after a Master in Finance include investment associate at BlackRock (median salary: US$115,130, according to Glassdoor), a trader at HSBC (US$193,290), equity research associate at Morgan Stanley (US$135,952), asset manager at JP Morgan (US$100,801), or consultant at Boston Consulting Group (US$172,102).
You won't just work at financial institutions, either. Finance graduates will find their skills necessary in a wide range of organizations, including both public and private institutions. Just some of the organizations you could work in include government agencies, corporate finance, investment firms, and private equity firms.
What Do Finance Jobs Pay?
The median Master's in Finance salary for MiF graduates in the US is US$80,000, according to the 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
That is already twice the finance degree salary you can expect to make in typical BSc Finance jobs like underwriting assistant or risk management assistant. Some professionals, like financial analysts, can reach this salary in an entry-level position, but you're more likely to achieve this kind of median annual wage (and other high-paying jobs in finance) after a lucrative master's degree.
However, one thing to remember is that a Master's in Finance salary will also increase significantly in the years after graduation. At HEC Paris – ranked the number one Master of Finance in the world by the Financial Times – grads can expect a salary of around US$156,000 three years after graduation, representing a 92 percent increase on their pre-degree earnings.
MSc Finance graduates from Poland's Kozminski University increase their salaries by 93 percent, the most compared with any other MSc in Finance degree in the FT's Master of Finance ranking. At the same time, Warwick Business School grads can expect a Master of Finance salary that is 81 percent more than what they were earning before their degree.
At ESADE Business School, 94 percent of MSc Finance graduates find a job within three months after graduation, earning an average of US$118,000 three years post-program.
"Students develop a certain maturity and professionality that will allow them to consolidate the most competitive entry-level positions in comparison with a BSc,” explains Carlo Sala, academic director of the Master of Science in Finance at ESADE Business School.
"A BSc in Finance is an introduction to finance for students considering a career in finance but not necessarily committed to one,” adds David Simpson, recruitment and admissions director of the Masters in Finance at London Business School. "Masters programs are far deeper and, in many cases, more employment-focused than undergraduate degrees.”
Entry-Level Finance Jobs Salary
There are several finance-related fields that you can access with a bachelor's degree in finance. However, these are more likely to be in a junior position with lower salaries.
Here are a few popular entry-level roles for financial professionals and the median annual salary you can expect to receive. In these roles, you'll kickstart your career by assisting senior members of finance teams in an organization, applying your recently acquired skills from your degree, and learning more about the finance sector.
While these roles may not be the highest-paying finance jobs, you could still make a return on your Master's degree investment, particularly as a financial analyst or a personal finance advisor.
Remember, if you want to apply for some of the most competitive and best-paying jobs in finance – like an investment banker, asset manager, or financial analyst – a Master of Finance is the way to go.
Risk Management Assistant, US$41,000
For this role, you'll need to know how to identify and combat the potential financial risks in an organization. Risk management assistants will know how to assess financial risks and perform a risk assessment to evaluate a company's financial health.
As an entry-level position, you won't approach the same kinds of salaries as more senior roles in the financial sector. However, you could see higher salaries by moving up in the role. At a reputable financial institution, a role as a financial manager could come with six-figure salaries.
Underwriting Assistant, US$47,000
An underwriting assistant will work alongside a senior underwriter to assess whether customers are valid for loans, mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. They generally work for financial institutions like banks or insurance providers.
Because this is a junior role, an underwriting assistant can achieve a national average salary in the US of around US$47,000, on the lower end of the spectrum for the finance sector. On the other hand, a more senior underwriter could see a median salary of almost US$77,000.
Working as a certified public accountant brings plenty of opportunities to work for a wide range of organizations, including the big-four accounting firms. You'll be tasked with managing financial accounts for your clients and may advise clients on tax regulations.
While working as a junior accountant or certified public accountant doesn't come with the highest median annual salary compared to other finance positions, you will have the chance to progress to being a senior accountant or a financial manager.
Personal Financial Advisors, US$66,000
Much like financial managers, personal finance advisors advise organizations on their financial policies. However, as personal financial advisors work at a much lower level than financial managers, they can expect lower salaries, usually five-figure instead of six-figure.
As a personal finance advisor, you'll be responsible for assisting clients with financial questions, whether that's to do with investing, loans, or improving their credit score. Roles as personal financial advisors are some of the best-paying finance jobs for bachelor's degree graduates or those will little experience after a MiF, so it's worth researching if it's something for you.
Financial Analysts, US$74,000
Financial analysts work on improving the financial performance of insurance companies, consulting firms, and other corporations. As a financial analyst, you should be comfortable analyzing financial data and identifying market trends or other economic trends that may be pertinent to the organization you're working in.
A financial analyst is one of the best-paying jobs in the financial industry if you're just getting started. However, because financial analysts earn more than other entry-level positions, you might need specific work experience and relevant skills to land the role straight out of your finance degree. Regardless, financial analysts certainly earn enough to make a master's degree in finance a worthy investment, and you could make more by training as a chartered financial analyst.
Highest Paying Jobs in Finance
A huge variety of jobs are available in the finance industry, but some are better paid than others. These are the top five highest-paying jobs in finance that you could aim for after your Master's in Finance degree or after working in an entry-level position for a couple of years.
As with most finance jobs, you can expect even higher salaries if you remain in your role for a few years or more - the salaries outlined here are typical starting salaries in the role.
Private Equity Associate, US$104,00
Like personal finance advisors, a private equity associate advises clients on financial policies. However, this role is usually concerned with investment banking and assisting clients with identifying the best investment opportunities. Consequently, you should be able to analyze market trends and evaluate the best ways of maximizing returns on investment.
At US$104,000, the median annual salary for this position is far higher than any entry-level finance job. With a role at a lucrative asset management firm, you could reach salaries of more than US$150,000 per year.
Hedge Fund Manager, US$119,000
As a hedge fund manager, you'll manage hedge funds for organizations and high-wealth individuals. Because these are typically high-risk investments, the role comes with a lot of pressure - and a high salary to boot.
Base salaries at some of the largest hedge funds in the world, like BlackRock, Bridgewater, and AQR Capital Management, are almost always in the six-figure category. However, you can expect your salary to rise significantly if you manage a lucrative portfolio or work in a specific investment niche.
Investment Bankers, US$134,000
In this role, you'll typically work for an investment bank, assisting clients on how to raise money in capital markets, including by selling bonds and stock. Your responsibilities might also include helping with mergers and acquisitions.
This is one of the most sought-after jobs in finance, mainly because of the huge paychecks that come with it. With a Master's in Finance, you'll be qualified for the higher-paid investment banking opportunities, which could see you earn a median annual wage of US$134,000 or more.
Financial Managers, US$134,000
Financial managers make some of the highest salaries in the financial sector, often reaching upwards of US$200k. They are responsible for advising organizations and private clients on their financial health and will do this by monitoring cash flows and analyzing financial reports for weaknesses in finances.
As a financial manager, you'll be a vital member of any company's finance department, meaning you'll also be paid one of the highest salaries of any finance job.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO), US$178,000
It makes sense that Chief Financial Officers are some of the highest-paid finance professionals, mainly because they sit at the most senior level in an organization. A chief financial officer will make significant financial decisions for organizations, making overall budget decisions and determining which projects get the green light for financing. They must also ensure that the business abides by any finance regulation, particularly if the organization is undergoing a merger or acquisition.
Because this is one of the highest-paying finance jobs out there, it's a popular goal for MiF graduates. There's also plenty of opportunity for even higher salaries at the right company – the median salary of a CFO can reach upwards of US$400,000.