How to Become a Finance Manager



Although there is no one set path for becoming a finance manager, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


1. Determine if this profession is suited to your personality and professional interests

2. Pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field

3. Get entry-level work experience in finance as a student 

4. Get a permanent job in finance after graduation 

5. Advance into roles of greater responsibility as you gain experience

6. Earn an MBA degree in finance or a related field

7. Pursue relevant industry certification or training if required

8. Advance into the role of Finance Manager once you’ve gained enough experience to be competent in the role


Below, we've covered these steps in greater detail, as well as provided some information on what finance managers actually do, what their work environment is like, and what you can do to become one!





What Type of Experience Will I Need 

Because of the complex and advanced nature of a financial manager's role, most employers require that you have around five years of experience in related positions, such as financial analyst, accountant, auditor or collections manager.



What Formal Education Will I Need?

To become a financial manager, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, although some employers might prefer that you have an MBA.





What is a Finance Manager?

Finance managers are responsible for planning, directing and evaluating the operation of the financial and accounting departments of businesses, government agencies, non-profits, and other organization. Their main objectives are to develop and implement financial policies and procedures, as well as performance standards for their organization.



What Do They Do?

Although their duties can vary, finance managers are generally responsible for the following:


• Developing and implementing financial policies

• Planning, organizing, evaluating and directing the operation of various internal departments and staff, such as accounting, finance and audit

• Preparing or coordinating the preparation of financial statements and financial management report such as cost-benefit analysis

• Notifying senior management of any trends that may be of concern to the financial performance of the organization

• Liaising and meeting with other department managers concerning policies and procedures



What is the Work Environment Like?

Finance managers generally work full-time in a regular Monday through Friday work week, with some flexibility possible. However, longer hours may be required depending on current deadlines and workload. 


Financial managers work closely with top executives and with departments that develop the data that financial managers need. Their work can be slow paced at times, and fast-paced at others, such as when facing deadlines, and at month, quarter and year-end.





Is Becoming a Finance Manager a Good Career Choice for Me?

It’s not always about if you can; whether or not you should is of equal, if not greater importance. If the following traits, interests and attributes describe you, then you might be very well-suited for a career as a finance manager:


• You have a natural aptitude in math, and working with numbers

• You have a keen interest in budgeting, finance, and accounting theory

• You’re willing to keep abreast of relevant laws and regulations 

• You’re interested in a well-paying career that involves much dedication

• You’re self-motivated and willing to work long hours when necessary 

• You have the ability to lead and motivate others

• You’re precise and attentive to your work 

• You have a high tolerance for confrontation and conflict

• You’re comfortable presenting information to others

• You’re interested in the idea of working with top executives



How Much Do They Earn?

Finance Manager Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Financial Managers was $121,750 in May 2016, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $65,000, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $208,000.


Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Financial Managers occupational group earn an average salary of $106,774 per year, or an average wage of $53.85 per hour. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 15, 2019).


Please Note: The salary or wage of a finance manager can vary, typically based on the following factors:


• Their level of education, training and experience 

• The region in which they work

• The scope of their duties and amount of responsibility inherent in the job

• The size and type of their employer

• Whether or not they receive financial benefits, commissions, or other special remuneration



Who Employs Them?

Finance managers are employed with small and large organizations in the public and private sectors, including government agencies, multinational corporations, retailers, insurance companies, transpositions companies, financial institutions, charities, manufacturing companies, universities, and general businesses.



Finance Manager Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has a listing of "Finance Manager" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, when available:




What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you display competence, initiative and dedication, many opportunities to advance your career will become available to you. For example, you could move into a role such as finance director, managing director or chief financial officer (CFO) with your organization, or an outside organization.


You could also choose to move into a different industry. For example, if you start your career with an engineering company, the knowledge and skills gained can be applied in virtually any other industry, such as education.


Alternatively, since the expertise you’ll gain as a financial manager is highly transferable, you could choose to move into areas outside of finance entirely, such as Human Resources or Operations. 


Please Note: Moving into a new role, either related or unrelated to finance, may require you to undertake further professional training. 



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “finance manager”:


• Accountant

• Bank Manager

• Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

• Controller 

• Credit Manager

• Finance Assistant

• Financial Planner

• Financial Trader



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Finance Managers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a finance manager. You can find relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Finance Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are MILLIONS of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Sources for This Career Guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Wages & Salaries in Alberta: "Financial Managers.” (n.d.). Government of Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 20, 2019.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Financial Managers.” (May, 2016). United States Government Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 30, 2017.

• Job Profile: “Financial Manager.” AGCAS editors (December, 2016). Prospects website. Retrieved May 30, 2017.

• Career Advice: “Steps to Becoming a Successful Financial Manager.” Ralph Heibutzki (n.d.). Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved May 30, 2017.

• Jobs Database: “Finance Manager.” (May 30, 2017). New Zealand Government - Career New Zealand website. Retrieved May 30, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant for this profession. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: