Getting a Degree in Finance

Despite what some may say, a college education is still a good investment – especially if you select a degree program that potentially pays well. Finance certainly falls under that category. The average entry level just-out-of-college position in finance starts at slightly less than $54,000. However, depending on the industry sector, entry salaries can go even higher. The new college graduate can earn as much as $75,000 providing consultation to science and technical industries.

Money, however, should not be your only consideration as you choose your career path. To be successful, you will need to enjoy the area of study you enter. Are you good at math? Are you a good communicator? Thinking about your talents, as well as qualities you may need to develop going forward, is a responsible and practical approach to building a successful future. Finance is a lucrative and flexible area of study that will allow you to pursue careers such as fund raiser, financial analyst or examiner, and investment adviser.

If you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance, you can expect to complete college courses in statistics, calculus, management and international investment. Be sure to select a college that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Success Begins in College
Beyond earning good grades, there is a lot the finance undergraduate can do to prepare for the professional world – and it’s never too early to start. Keep abreast of the business and financial news by reading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Being aware of industry and economic trends is smart, and can help you interact, exchange information, and network with others.

Developing your soft skills, in fact, is very important. After all, it’s not just what you learn in class that interest your future employers, but your ability to communicate effectively and work with others. This comes with practice. Look for opportunities in your college to participate in events such as sponsored dinners, business etiquette lectures, or other activities aimed at developing personal skills. Programs such as these are often sponsored by local businesses in partnership with schools. When you write your first professional resume, it’s important to highlight your soft skills, and provide examples of how you are able to conduct yourself in a professional environment. Internships are a perfect way to learn soft skills.

Find an Internship
Competition will always be tough for the best positions in any field. For the finance major, this means the more you can do while you’re still in college, the better. Summer internships are one way to get your foot in the door. Finance internships are sometimes offered by local businesses. Partnerships between state and local government and industry are another possible source for finding an internship. Check with your Chamber of Commerce for potential leads. Even federal agencies such as the Veterans Affairs Office regularly offer opportunities for finance interns, or “student trainees,” as they are sometimes called. The U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program is another rich source of possibilities for finance students. This program offers opportunities around the country, and abroad – not just in Washington D.C.

Outlook for Finance Majors
Financial analyst positions are expected to be among the top-growing professions for the next five years, with over 100,000 new jobs opening up or being created.

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