How to Become a Financial Manager: A Career Guide


One of the most fundamental responsibilities of any corporation is managing finances. One wrong decision and the company could suffer significant financial losses. That is why every company needs a financial manager.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for financial managers is expected to rise by 15.5 percent from 2019 to 2029. As part of the overall management of a company, this profession offers high salaries. The average salary for financial managers in the United States is $106,546 per year. So, this is a position that is high in demand and very lucrative. What is next? Well, scroll down to find out how to become a finance manager, how long it takes, and what skills you need for the job.

What Does a Financial Manager Do?

A financial manager is responsible for providing financial guidance to organizations and companies. They act as a link between financial markets and the firm. They connect the two through investing and financing, also known as raising and spending money. Some of the many responsibilities you will have as a financial manager include:

  • Gathering and analyzing financial information.
  • Analyzing current market trends and competitors.
  • Creating financial forecasts.
  • Reviewing and managing the budget.
  • Monitoring cash flow.
  • Reviewing annual reports and the changes in asset balance.
  • Examining the current working capital to anticipate future cash flow.
  • Supervising and leading the accounting team.
  • Helping prepare financial statements and reports of business activity.
  • Developing strategies to reduce unnecessary costs and minimize financial risk.
  • Providing advice about business decisions that can impact the finances of the firm.
  • Helping develop business plans.

The overall goal of financial managers is to maximize the value of the firm and reduce unnecessary costs.

Becoming a Financial Manager

Like with most jobs, knowing how to become a financial manager is all about the preparation you put in. From undergrad and postgrad education to additional certifications you pursue, there are a few steps you need to go through before you obtain the position.

Financial manager: education


One of the first steps to becoming a financial manager is education. Those who aspire to become financial managers begin their career by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance, a degree in accounting, economics, or another business-related field. For some finance entry-level jobs, this level of education is enough. However, nowadays, when it comes to financial management education, many employers are seeking candidates that in addition to a bachelor’s degree have a master’s degree in finance, business administration, economics, or accounting.

Financial manager: license and certification

Professional certification is not a requirement for most jobs in financial management. However, certifications and licenses are a great way to demonstrate your level of zeal for the position. They also increase your likelihood of getting a job or promotion.

Generally, certifications require at least a year of preparing for examinations. Some popular finance certifications you can pursue are:

  • Certified Financial Planner(CFP)
  • Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
  • Chartered Market Technician (CMT)

Many of these certifications require you to have a bachelor’s degree or be in your final year of studies to sit in the exams. In addition to that, some work experience may also be required. The CFA requires at least 4,000 hours of work experience, the CFS requires 2,000 hours of financial services, work experience, and so on.

Financial manager: required experience

The road to becoming a financial manager does not end right after university. Instead, you need at least five years of experience in a finance-related position. Some common entry-level finance jobs are:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Investment Banking Analyst
  • Financial Auditor
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Budget Analyst
  • Insurance Claims Adjuster

Work experience is also a requirement if you want to further continue your education. Many finance-specific programs require it as part of their entrance criteria.

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Financial managers: skills


Besides the more obvious skill of working with numbers, a financial manager should seek and improve a set of soft and hard skills in order to advance their career.

Some key hard skills that finance managers should possess are:

Accounting skills – although you might not have to prepare the financial statements, it is crucial that you can read and discuss them with your colleagues.

Budget preparation skills – these skills help you understand the processes related to costing and budgeting within the company.

Technical skills – being tech-savvy helps you find, analyze, and sort financial information easier and faster.

Analytical skills – these skills assure you understand financial situations and can interpret them. They are crucial for you to come up with the necessary solutions to financial problems.

Some of the soft skills that will help you in this career include:

Communication skills – These skills enable you to give financial advice, discuss, and generally have better relationships with others.

Adaptability – the constant changes in the market and within the organizations, as well as advancements in technology, require financial managers to be good at adapting to new situations.

Decision-making – as one of the leaders of the financial team in the company, you have to take the burden of making decisions, and determining what the best course of action is.

Leadership skills – in your position as a manager, you should be skilled in motivating others, listening and giving feedback, and contributing to problem-solving in the workplace.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Financial Manager?

The exact time length of becoming a financial manager depends on the type of programs you enroll in, bachelor and master, as well as the certifications you pursue. Some full-time programs can take up to 4 years, whereas other part-time ones can be completed in up to 2 years.

Now that you’ve got a handle on how to become a financial manager, consider the responsibilities and requirements needed for this position. If you are up for the challenge and put in the work, then you can have a successful and productive career as a financial manager. With some extra work, and you can climb to even higher roles.


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