American workers are encountering an apparent lack of available career pathways as they try to transition into higher-paying industries. Thankfully, online education makes the skills and credentials necessary to advance into one’s dream job more accessible. Online programs make it possible for career changers and current professionals alike to boost their skills in a time- and cost-effective manner, opening doorways to industries that had previously felt out of reach–including the finance industry.

An online master’s in finance–particularly one that allows students to study at their own pace–can help you learn the finance theories and acquire the real-world knowledge necessary to prepare you for a number of positions within the industry. We take a look at a few of the top-paying master’s in finance careers in this article, but first let’s address a few common questions.

How Will a Master’s in Finance Help Me Advance My Career?

A master’s in finance can support your career by:

  • Granting you the foundational knowledge needed to make a career change
  • Offering the time and direction you need to specialize in the area of finance that captures your interest
  • Helping you develop the strong business acumen and exceptional communication skills needed for leadership roles

What Is the Job Outlook for Master’s in Finance Graduates?

Demand for finance hires is expected to increase by nearly 24 percent over the next 10 years, according to the market research tool Burning Glass. This growth is likely driven by fintech start-ups and traditional firms searching for quality candidates.
How Will Earning a Master of Finance Increase My Salary Potential?
According to PayScale, the average salary for graduates with an MS in Finance is $78,000. Many higher-level positions, such as those at the director and executive levels, earn much more, as you’ll see below.

Master’s in Finance Careers

Job Title Average Salary Requested Skills/Experience Premium Skills/Experience
Senior Financial Analyst $82,556
  • Financial Analysis, modeling, and reporting
  • Forecasting
  • Microsoft Excel
  • ERP and data analytics software
  • SQL
  • Business planning and control
  • Management reporting
  • Statistical analysis sytems
Portfolio Manager $89,598
  • Portfolio investment and management
  • Financial analysis
  • Commercial loans
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Software architecture
  • IT support
  • Business development
  • SQL
Financial Controller $139,795
  • General ledger accounting
  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Budgeting
  • Public accounting and compliance
  • Team/project management
  • Economics
  • Business and financial strategy
Vice President of Finance $139,795
  • Financial analysis, modeling, and reporting
  • Strategic planning
  • Financial management
  • System integration
  • Big data analytics
  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) $138,511
  • Accounting
  • Strategic planning
  • Financial analysis and reporting
  • Senior financial management
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC)
  • German language

*Skills/experience data from PayScale and Burning Glass

Senior Financial Analyst

Financial analysts are a key operational component for business and corporations, helping their employers and/or clients make smarter financial decisions and better forecast revenues and expenditures by analyzing current and future market trends. Senior analysts have greater responsibilities, often leading teams of junior analysts and working with the C-suite to help set company-wide financial directives.

With data-driven decision making shaping the future of business, today’s senior analysts should have experience with various data collection tools and methods. Knowledge of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and data analytics software can greatly benefit job seekers. In addition, candidates with experience with business planning and control systems (BPCS) and statistical analysis systems (SAS) may be able to earn a higher salary.

Portfolio Manager

A portfolio manager establishes and maintains investments. Working with individual clients or large organizations, they are generally employed in investment firms, banks and other lending institutions, corporate finance departments, and insurance companies. Risk assessment is crucial in this position, as are due diligence and excellent customer service skills.

The wealth management sector is no stranger to technological innovation, and many of today’s cutting-edge developments–A.I., big data, machine learning–have their role to play here. While many organizations still work with older IT systems and database architecture, firms that invest in analytics are better positioned to address the demands of their clients. It’s therefore beneficial for portfolio managers to have, at minimum, a baseline understanding of how analytics can improve operations.

Financial Controller

A financial controller is the primary person responsible for the documents that explain, summarize, and/or forecast a company’s past, present, and projected finances. These documents include profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and any paperwork submitted to state and federal agencies. Financial controllers may draft these documents themselves or oversee the staff assigned to them, but they are ultimately in charge of ensuring such reports are delivered completed, correctly, and on time.

Controllers must have excellent communications skills in order to distill complex financial concepts to employees and stakeholders outside of financial departments. Most businesses look for controllers with a master’s degree in finance or business. Earning a license as a certified financial manager or accountant can also be beneficial for the job hunt.

Vice President of Finance

The vice president of finance oversees the daily initiatives related to an organization’s financial matters with the aim of maximizing profits for company growth or expansion. Reporting to the chief financial officer or or chief executive officer, a VP of finance is likely to direct multiple teams, overseeing accounting operations (including payroll and taxes), budgeting, investments, financial analysis and reporting, insurance, and strategic planning.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Chief financial officers are one of the final decision-makers directing the financial actions of a corporation. As part of the C-suite, they use their overarching vantage point to direct a company’s financial strategies, identify profitable areas of operations, capitalize on promising market conditions, optimize capital structure, and share financial reports, decisions, and outcomes with key stakeholders, including analysts, creditors, shareholders, the rest of the C-suite, and employees.

As the finance industry has long been a global one, job-seekers with foreign language skills or international market experience can find themselves in high demand.

About the Online MS in Finance at Pace University

The online Master of Science in Finance from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University combines advanced finance theory with experience in real-world applications, preparing you to make the informed decisions on which clients and businesses rely. Based in New York City, one of the largest hiring areas for finance professionals, our program places students on the front lines of the finance industry, keeping them abreast of the latest trends and challenges. Asynchronous and fully online, the Pace MS in Finance can be completed in as little as two years, part time, and is suitable for newcomers and experienced financial professionals alike.

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Consider the online MBA with a Corporate Finance concentration.