Interested in a career as a Financial Analyst? Here's what you need to know about the educational paths that can lead you there, including popular degrees, tips for entering the field without a degree, and key skills required in the job.

Key Insights

  • A Bachelor's degree in math, statistics, economics, accounting or a related field is typically the minimum requirement for becoming a Financial Analyst. However, higher roles such as Senior Financial Analyst may require a Master’s degree in finance or an MBA.
  • A Financial Analyst's role involves studying financial data, creating financial models, studying market trends, and making informed investment strategies. They are commonly employed by large corporations like insurance companies, security firms, and investment banks.
  • While a degree is often preferred, entry-level finance positions may also be available to individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent. Work experience, networking, and self-study can contribute significantly to one's career in financial analytics.
  • Common degrees for Financial Analysts include Finance, Accounting, Economics, Math, Statistics, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
  • Additional certifications like a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license, Certified Public Accountant, or Certified Financial Planner can be beneficial for those pursuing a career in financial analysis.
  • Noble Desktop offers a range of courses in financial modeling and analysis, providing practical experience and expert instruction on key concepts and techniques.

Although there are no formal requirements to pursue a career in financial analytics, most employers seek out candidates who have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. Aspiring Financial Analysts sometimes choose to study math, statistics, economics, accounting, or a related field as undergraduates. For those interested in applying to more advanced finance roles, such as Senior Financial Analyst, additional education is often needed, such as a master’s in finance or an MBA. Not only does a graduate degree teach you the skills needed to excel in higher-up Analyst roles, but degrees such as this often provide hands-on training that can set you apart from other job candidates. While the educational requirements needed to work in finance will ultimately depend on your employer, as well as your specialization, a strong background in math, data analysis, business, and financial literacy are core skills needed for this profession.

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.

Common Degrees for Financial Analysts

For those interested in becoming Financial Analysts, the following are some of the most common degrees you may consider to prepare you to enter this profession:

Tips for Starting a Financial Analyst Career Without a Degree

Most Financial Analysts have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, accounting, or a related field. However, not all job openings require applicants to have an undergraduate degree. If you have a high school diploma, you may be eligible for certain entry-level positions in finance. The following are some tips to help you find a job if you’re interested in a career as a Financial Analyst but don’t have a bachelor’s degree:

Learn the Skills to Become a Financial Analyst at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop, an educational provider located in New York City, offers a range of classes devoted to financial modeling and analysis. Financial Modeling Bootcamp is a hands-on, 18-hour course that teaches students fundamental financial concepts, such as corporate valuation, accounting, and finance. Participants in this small class create their own discounted cash flow using Microsoft Excel. Over three days, expert instructors also help students develop a comprehensive financial model for an actual company. As a prerequisite to this bootcamp, students should have intermediate Excel proficiency.

Noble also has a Financial Analyst Training Program that provides expert instruction on timely corporate and financial concepts, such as making a full valuation model. Those enrolled in this intensive program receive instruction on fundamental Excel skills, such as using shortcuts and PivotTables. Advanced Excel techniques are also covered in this 30-hour program, like Goal Seek and cash flow projection tools. All learners also receive instruction on creating a three-statement financial model for a public restaurant company.

In addition to the Financial Modeling Bootcamp and Financial Analyst Training Program, Noble Desktop also has in-person and live online financial modeling training courses. The

Excel Bootcamp offers 18 hours of instruction on core business Excel skills like working with VLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, and What-If Analysis for Goal Seek. FinTech courses are also available, like Algorithmic Trading with Python, Python for Data Science Bootcamp, and FinTech Bootcamp. This course provides students with hands-on training from expert instructors in FinTech skills like working with Python and SQL for data analysis, creating machine learning models, and working with different data types like integers, floats, and strings. All students have the option of a free course retake for up to one year, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

Key Takeaways