How to become a financial analyst: The education and skills you’ll need

August 01, 2023 · 3 min read · By ASU Online

Get the details on what financial analysts do, how to become one, the skills you'll need to succeed and the online degrees that can jumpstart your career.

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What does a financial analyst do?

Financial analysts study current and historical economic trends in financial data that help senior managers make informed business decisions. A financial analyst must stay up to date on who their organization is investing in and where the money is moving in order to protect the organization’s future earnings. This is accomplished by reviewing existing data and making informed recommendations for investments decisions. Specific tasks you might perform on an average day include:

  • Assessing an organization’s net worth on existing financial statements.
  • Studying marketplace trends, demographics and microeconomic factors specific to the organization's interests.
  • Suggesting investments to management that are most likely to build company wealth.
  • Advising on financial choices specific to the organization such as issuing bonds or splitting stock.
  • Track analytics behind stocks, bonds and other investments to maintain clients portfolios.

 

The skills every financial analyst needs

The skill set for a successful financial analyst is a combination of both technical financial skills and non-technical behavioral skills. 

  • Some of the technical skills required for this role include becoming proficient with accounting software such as QuickBooks and NetSuite, economic modeling, equity research and mathematical proficiency. 
  • The behavioral skills include transferable skills that would be especially beneficial as a financial analyst, such as strong interpersonal communication, leadership abilities and a problem-solving attitude.

Although specific requirements may vary between organizations, earning an undergraduate degree can teach you how to use these skills interchangeably and prepare you for a career as a financial analyst.

 

Financial analyst salary, job outlook and career paths

Financial analysts are in demand across many industries because of the economic assistance they provide an organization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of financial analysts is expected to grow 9% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average rate for all occupations. The median annual salary for financial analysts was $95,570 as of May 2021.

The opportunity for growth in this career path is extensive. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree you may start as a financial analyst where you can gain experience and specialize in a specific investment field of your choosing. You can potentially move on to a senior-level analyst position where you would be responsible for more high-profile projects. After that you could move into management positions as a finance manager, finance director and possibly even chief financial officer down the line in your career.

 

Prepare for a career as a financial analyst with these online business degrees from Arizona State University

If you’re taking the first step to become a financial analyst, you should consider earning an undergraduate business degree such as ASU Online’s Bachelor of Arts in business with a concentration in corporate accounting. This program teaches you to go beyond just crunching numbers and develops the skills you’ll need to be an organization’s financial leader. You’ll learn to excel at analyzing potential decisions and courses of action from a financial perspective.

Additionally, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can enhance your viability as a candidate for financial analyst opportunities. ASU Online’s Master of Business Administration program can help you grow your skills through a comprehensive curriculum with opportunities to improve leadership by studying business fundamentals used every day in the world of finance. This MBA program provides you the skills to make sound business decisions, incorporate data and analytics into your workflows and communicate effectively in high-stress environments.

A look into your career as a business intelligence analyst

Are you looking for a career that combines a passion for data with the ability to positively influence and support an organization? A business intelligence (BI) analyst does just that by analyzing complex sets of data within a company to determine recommendations for business growth and improvement.

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