How to Become a Financial Analyst

How to Become a Financial Analyst: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a financial analyst, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a financial analyst:


• You want to be fully immersed in the world of securities and finance

• You are interested in a highly lucrative career

• You have a keen interest in analyzing industries and making decisions to help investors

• You are interested in a competitive career in which there is plenty of peer support

• You are able to endure high levels of stress, tight deadlines and long working hours

• You have strong data analysis abilities, and confidence in your abilities


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a financial analyst. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Financial Analyst

Not including Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, the absolute minimum educational requirement for becoming a financial analyst is an undergraduate degree in a field such as finance, economics, computer science, mathematics, statistics, or any other field that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to understand and work with numbers and financial information.


A degree in an industry-related program, may also be considered an asset. For example, a degree in geology or petroleum engineering is considered an asset for analysts working in the oil and gas industry.


A major in business isn’t necessarily an advantage if you want to become a financial analyst, as each company trains the incoming class of financial analysts before they begin the job.


Success Tip: Although the minimum educational requirement for a career as a financial analyst is a bachelor’s degree, many employers will only employ candidates with a graduate degree in a relevant field, such as an MBA.




Financial Analyst Job Description

Financial analysts perform in-depth analysis of publicly traded companies based on a number of financial metrics in order to analyze and evaluate investment opportunities. Financial analysts must collect financial, economic and statistical data, and use specialized software to analyze the data and prepare reports based on their findings.


The reports prepared by financial analysts are used to determine a company’s value and make recommendations to potential or existing shareholders and clients, as to whether buying, selling or holding shares in that company is a good or bad investment in the present or in the future.


Financial analysts must immerse themselves in the world of finance, which involves a heavy reading load; they must keep abreast of news stories, market movements, and industry profiles by reading relevant financial newspapers, websites, magazines, and books. 



Financial Analyst Job Duties

• Define potential risks and returns from investments

• Make recommendations to clients regarding investments which may help them reach their financial goals

• Study companies (mainly those which are publicly traded) to estimate their earning power and evaluate their securities

• Prepare reports for stockbrokers, institutional investors and retail clients

• Work with investment bankers to attract new clients

• Actively market recommendations to in-house sales people as well as external clients



Certification Needed to Become a Financial Analyst

Most employers require or at least encourage their junior-level financial analysts to complete the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program offered through the CFA Institute, typically prior to becoming employed, although they may also allow junior-level analysts to pursue the designation while employed. The CFA program is extremely competitive; the CFA Institute notes that only 1 in 5 students who enter the program pass the full set of exams. 


Success Tip: If you want to become a financial analyst, you may find it much easier pursuing the CFA designation before applying for financial analyst jobs, as they are highly competitive. 





Skills Needed to Become a Financial Analyst

In order to become effective in a career as a financial analyst, you need to posses a certain set of skills. These skills will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, and employers will likely need to see evidence of them on your resume when applying for financial analyst jobs.


• Analytical skills, required to conduct thorough research and make recommendations regarding investment decisions

• Able to effectively create reports and presents findings

• Proficient with various financial data analysis software packages

• Mathematical skills, used for estimating the value of financial securities

• Able to pay extremely close attention to details with regards to data

• Excellent decision making skills, used for providing a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell a security

• A vigilant awareness of financial trends



Characteristics Needed to Become a Financial Analyst

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a financial analyst, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as a financial analyst is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• A keen interest in analyzing industries and making decisions to help investors

• High ethical standards

• Professional accountability

• Interested in working in a highly lucrative career

• Enjoy taking a methodical approach to collecting information

• Enjoy consulting with others and directing the work of others

• Able to endure stress and long hours

• Willing to sacrifice some of the ‘life’ from a ‘work-life’ balance

• Patience and long-term career commitment, as it takes years to become an expert in financial analysis



Who Creates Jobs for Financial Analysts?

Banking houses and financial advising firms employ most financial analysts, although some are employed on a full-time or contractual basis, in the head offices of following types of organizations:


• Securities firms

• Investment banking firms

• Banks

• Trust companies

• Insurance companies

• Mutual and pension funds

• Accounting firms

• Investment counseling firms

• Large private corporations


Some Notes on Financial Analyst Jobs


• The job market for financial analysts is notoriously competitive, and when the markets are good, there a many more jobs than when markets are not performing well.

• Since most financial analysts work in the head office of the organization that employs them, financial analyst jobs are typically found in large urban centres.




Financial Analyst Jobs

Our job board below has "Financial Analyst" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.


Career Advancement for Financial Analysts

Financial analysts that demonstrate skill, integrity and ambition often put themselves in positions to move into roles of greater responsibility as their careers progress. For example, after three to five years of hard work at a firm, financial analysts can become senior financial analysts or associates.


Financial analysts with strong client bases, contact lists and excellent reputations may start their own financial consulting firms. Alternatively, some financial analysts choose to work as analysts for a few years and then return to school or into other positions in finance, such as investment banker, investment advisor, or financial consultant.



Financial Analyst Salary

The salary level of financial analysts can vary depending on their level of education, their level of experience, the type of industry they cover, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors. Many financial analysts also receive performance-based bonuses, which often depend on the success of the analyst, and the health of the financial markets.


Financial Analyst Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Financial and Investment Analysts occupational group earn an average of between $32.69 and $52.97 per hour.


Financial Analyst Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary of Canadian workers in the Financial and Investment Analysts occupational group is $70,210 per year.


According to the Globe and Mail, financial analysts earn a base starting salary of between $60,000 and $100,000 for the first few years, and it can increase to nearly $1-million, based on responsibilities and experience.


According to a survey conducted by CFA Societies Canada, Canadian professionals holding the CFA designation earned an average of $239,215 in 2011.


Financial Analyst Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of American workers in the Financial Analysts occupational group is $76,950. The lowest 10% of income levels in this group are below $47,130 and the top 10% are above $148,430 per year.



Financial Analyst Career: Working Conditions

Work Setting: Financial analyst jobs are typically found in large urban centres, in company head offices. They most often work in an office setting, within an established corporate culture. Financial analysts spend a great deal of time working with computers and custom-designed software. Some work related travel may be required of financial analysts.


Working Hours: Financial analysts typically work regular weekday business hours, although they frequently work very long hours as their deadlines are quite strict. They may spend most of their daytime hours consulting with others and attending meetings, while their after-hours efforts may be needed in order to complete data compilation, analysis and report creation. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that more than a third of financial analysts work more than 40 hours per week.


Work Environment: Financial analysts often work under a great deal of pressure in order to meet strict deadlines and present accurate and successful investment recommendations; their work affects the portfolios of clients who typically have significant amounts of money invested with the firm that employs the analyst. 



Careers Similar to Financial Analyst

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Financial Analyst, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Business Valuator

Finance Manager

Financial Advisor

Quantitative Analyst




References: Financial Analyst Career Information

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a financial analyst.


Alberta Learning and Information Service website:

Talent Egg website:

The Globe and Mail website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:



Scholarships for Becoming a Financial Analyst

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Financial Analyst can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Financial Analyst: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a financial analyst. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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