Jobs in finance take many forms. There are accounting jobs, hedge fund jobs, and CFO roles aplenty. Still, these roles have many of the same skills in common, which makes them something of a unified field for those interested in numbers, cash, and how to keep companies in the black rather than the red.
This short guide is about how you can find yourself a path into finance – either from the standing start of emerging from school or as a career change after some years in a different field. Read on to learn the essentials of getting into finance at any age.
Your schooling is an important part of your decision to enter finance. If you struggled in math class, it’s fair to say that working with numbers may not be for you. If, on the other hand, you excelled in that subject, you’ll already be well-placed to start courses in more advanced math, equations, and excel algorithms that are the bread and butter of careers in the financial field.
If you’re still at school, do focus on your math studies – trying to go the extra mile to learn as much as possible while you’re still young. If you’ve already left school, do just think back to your math classes to help you decide whether finance is really the career path you should follow.
Anyone can go to university at any age. It’s common for mature students to decide on a university course several years into their first career after having a change of heart and acknowledging that they need training and qualifications to progress towards their chosen career. Meanwhile, school leavers may head to university straight away in order to pick up skills in finance.
One way to bypass lengthy courses in finance is to apply for master’s degrees, many of which you can take online, remotely, and on your own schedule. An online MBA accounting certificate, for instance, can fast-track you into a career in accounting. A master’s conversion into finance can convert your business degree into the financial field. Search for the best course to match your career aspirations, and get in touch with the admissions office to get to grips with what you’ll need to do to be accepted onto a career-defining course.
If you’re convinced that a career in the field of finance is for you, you needn’t wait for the start of term to begin tooling up for your career. You can dive in right away with a series of online readings or books you purchase online to help you gain those important skills required for this specialist field. A simple online search for the best books in finance, banking, accounting, or investing can give you a head start when you do eventually begin your course.
Other than readings, you can also search through YouTube for videos, tutorials, and lectures that’ll help you understand the demands of the job you’re looking to assume in finance. These resources are accessible and wonderfully put together – aimed at novices and new entrants into the field, as well as those looking to progress in specific and special skills.
Whether at university or in your first job, a mentor can do a huge amount for your early career in finance. They’ll be able to point out shortcuts and tricks to the trade that it might otherwise take you months to pick up on your own. They’ll support your progress, offering critical feedback when it’s useful and praising you when you’ve done a good job. Plus, they’ll be someone you can quickly turn to when you’re unsure of yourself in those first weeks and months of your career.
Finding a mentor is easy. Be open about your desire to learn and to quickly progress in your career. Reach out to senior colleagues via email or, even better, by approaching them at their desks. Finance professionals tend to admire ambition and will be more than happy to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of workers.
Several jobs in finance take many years to actually fully qualify for. Take accounting as an example: it’s a complex field that requires workers to go through a series of rigorous exams in order to prove their suitability for what is a very important part of the global economy. Other fields are just as grueling and can take several years to get through before you have all the qualifications you need to push on in your career.
There are plenty of ways to make progress in your career. One option is to always keep an eye open for job vacancies within your company and within your field. Sideway moves often help workers progress faster than internal climbing and can accelerate your rise to seniority. Another option is to keep training and learning in your spare time – something that’ll keep building your skills and showing off your capabilities.
Once you’re fully qualified for your job in the field of finance, you’ll also be able to begin specializing in the sub-field that you enjoy the most. You can choose to work exclusively for startups as their CFO or exclusively as a consultant to firms that require the services of an accountant on a temporary basis. Whichever route you choose will determine the path that your career will take as it matures.
This is an exciting moment in your career. Much of the hard work may be behind you, and much of the reward may lie ahead. You’ll be confident in your craft, you’ll have plenty of colleagues you know and trust, and you’ll be earning a salary that reflects how hard you’ve worked to get to this point. Finding a specialism is the cherry on the cake: you’re able to choose when you work and how you work, given that you have such a valuable and sought-after set of skills.
Forging a career in finance takes numerical skills, analytical skills, and a great deal of hard work. But as you’ll have learned from this short guide, it’s also an exciting journey and one that anyone can perform.