Explore the various classes, certificates, and certifications available for aspiring Financial Analysts and understand the impact these credentials can make on your career. Learn about the core skills, roles, and industry trends in financial analytics to make more informed decisions for your professional development.

Key Insights

  • Financial Analysts use their background in math, accounting, research, reporting, communication, critical thinking, and data analytics to analyze financial data and develop investment strategies.
  • Although not always required, having a bachelor's degree in a related field is often seen as the first step towards becoming a Financial Analyst. This formal education can lead to higher pay and can provide the necessary training and skills.
  • Several certifications and certificates are available to demonstrate proficiency in financial analytics. These include the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) among others.
  • Certificates indicate completion of a course or series of courses covering specific learning objectives, while certifications are achieved by passing an industry-standard exam.
  • Beyond academic qualifications, Financial Analyst positions often seek candidates who have completed additional licenses or certifications, such as from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
  • Noble Desktop offers courses in financial analytics, providing essential skills for aspiring Financial Analysts.

If you’re applying for jobs as a Financial Analyst and want to demonstrate that you possess the skills needed to succeed in this role, earning a certificate or certification is one way to do so. Certification is a great way to demonstrate to employers that you’re proficient in core financial analytics skills, technology, and language. Certifications are usually earned by passing a standardized test, whereas certificates are awarded to those who successfully complete a course that spans several weeks or months. This article will explore the certification and certificate options available to those interested in pursuing a financial analytics career, as well as the benefits of obtaining these credentials. 

What is a Financial Analyst?

Financial Analysts study financial data and perform various research tasks to spot investment opportunities and analyze possible outcomes for business decisions. These professionals play an integral role in helping to create more informed investment strategies for their organization or its clients. To do so, Financial Analysts routinely perform tasks for their employer like studying current events and developments in the market, examining financial statements, and creating financial models that can anticipate future performance. They also may study macroeconomic trends or hone in on particular industries or sectors. Financial Analysts rely on their background in math, accounting, research, reporting, communication, critical thinking, and data analytics to perform these tasks.

Because of how valued they are by organizations, Financial Analysts often find employment with large corporations like insurance companies, security firms, investment banks, venture capital firms, or government agencies. They play an integral role in supporting an organization’s budgeting initiatives, as well as writing financial status reports and recommendations. Their process often involves steps such as collecting data, organizing information, performing data analysis on these numbers, providing projections or forecasts, offering recommendations, creating Excel models, presenting their findings to organizational stakeholders, and writing reports or dashboards to convey suggestions. Depending on their professional focus, Financial Analysts do extensive research on their organization’s buy-side and sell-side financial data. They often focus on either credit markets or equity markets.

Read more about what a Financial Analyst does.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Financial Analyst?

Although it’s not required by all employers, a bachelor’s degree is often seen as the first step to pursuing a career as a Financial Analyst. While there are many ways to develop the skill set needed to become a Financial Analyst, earning a bachelor of science in accounting management or finance is a common path toward entry-level positions in this field. Some individuals also choose to study statistics, business management, economics, or math. The training provided during undergraduate study with core skills like finance principles and investment or portfolio management will likely make it easier to perform as an Intern or Junior-Level Financial Analyst. Some undergraduate and graduate programs even offer concentrations in financial analysis. These programs provide hands-on lab instruction and internship opportunities in business statistics, corporate finance, investment management, economics, accounting, risk management, professional ethics, and financial reporting.

Not only will a bachelor’s help you get a job in finance, but it also can lead to higher pay. In 2020, those with a bachelor’s earned $19,000 more a year than those with an associate degree and about $27,000 more than those with a GED or high school diploma.

In addition to education, many Financial Analyst positions also seek candidates who have completed additional licenses or certifications. For example, those who wish to sell financial products typically need a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license. Some organizations look specifically for Certified Public Accountants or Certified Financial Planners, both of which require certification.

Read more about if you need a degree to become a Financial Analyst.

Do Certifications Matter for Financial Analysts?

Earning one of the available certifications in finance is a great way to show employers that you have acquired the necessary financial knowledge and skills to be of value to their organization. In addition, some careers in finance require that applicants have a specific certification to apply for a job. Certification isn’t always needed for jobs in financial analytics.

Ultimately, whether you should seek certification will depend on the field of finance you wish to specialize in, your employer’s requirements, and your professional goals. 

Certifications vs. Certificates: What’s the Difference?

If you’re interested in exploring educational options in financial analytics, you may have heard about certifications and certificates. However, you may not know the difference or which is best for you. Certificates indicate that you’ve successfully completed one course or a series of courses that cover a range of finance-specific learning objectives. On the other hand, financial analytics certification is achieved by passing an exam in finance. Doing so indicates that you’ve mastered financial analytics as dictated by an industry-standard measurement.

How to Get Certified as a Financial Analyst

Seeking certification in financial analytics is a good way to hone your soft and hard skills, learn more about the current financial market, and convey to employers that you’ve devoted the time and effort needed to learn the language of finance. If you’re interested in being certified as a Financial Analyst, you’ll need to research to see which certification is required for your specialization. Because more than a dozen certifications are available for financial professionals, selecting the one most suited to your professional goals is important. 

Once you’ve found a good match, you will sign up for the exam. Some test-takers may wish to enroll in a course or program to prepare for the exam, whereas others may elect to prepare on their own for the test. A third party administers the multiple-choice exam. Those who pass it earn certification and can list this credential on their resume.

Top Certifications & Certificates for Financial Analysts

The following is a list of some of the most popular certifications and certificates currently available for Financial Analysts:

Key Takeaways