How to Become a Financial Manager


Table of Contents

1. Overview: Job Responsibilities, Salary, and Common Requirements

2. A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Financial Manager

3. What Does a Financial Manager Do?

4. Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Financial Manager

5. How Do You Become a Financial Manager?

6. What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Financial Manager?

7. Popular Schools and Colleges in the U.S. for Aspiring Financial Managers

8. How to Get a Job as a Financial Manager

9. Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

10. Make Your Resume Stand Out

11. Ace Your Financial Manager Interview

12. Top Online Courses for Aspiring Financial Managers


Job Responsibilities

  • Oversee the financial and/or budget department of an organization
  • Prepare financial reports of various business activities
  • Keep up with the current financial trends and be able to predict some in the future
  • Plan the long-term financial goals of the business
  • Do market trends and competitors’ analyses
  • Advise the stakeholders and executives about the next financial decisions to make
  • Interpret the gathered financial information of the business being handled
  • Create strategies to generate more income and reduce costs
  • Ensure the organization is free from any financial risks
  • Verify the compliance of the organization to any business legalities especially in the subject of finances

How Much Does a Financial Manager Make?

Financial Managers made a median salary of $129,890 in 2019. The best-paid 10 percent made more than $208,000 that year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $68,370.


Common Requirements

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, Economics or any related field
  • Accounting knowledge
  • Knowledge of financial statements
  • Adeptness in Accounting software tools
  • Leadership skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Strategic financial planning

Similar Careers

Accountants and Auditors

Budget Analysts

Financial Analysts

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance Underwriters

Loan Officers

Personal Financial Advisors

Quantitative Analysts

Credit Managers

Insurance Managers

Common Skills

Accounting knowledge


Communication skills

Interpersonal skills

Financial reporting



Budget analysis


$129,890 per year
$62.45 per hour





A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Financial Manager

Ever wonder how businesses reach their financial goals smoothly while making sure there are fewer mistakes along the way? Well, they run to the help of financial managers to maintain the overall financial health of the company. These financial saviors monitor the current status of the organization, and from there, they plan out the future financial engagements they are going to make.

Financial managers are highly in demand at the moment because every organization needs the helping hands of these financial professionals. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for the profession from 2019 to 2029 is 15%, which is faster than the average for any other profession. They also earn an impressive wage of $129,890 per year based on their 2019 median pay. What’s not to like? If you are waiting for that last push to pursue this profession, this could be it!

What Does a Financial Manager Do?

Financial managers function as the financial planners of any organization. They have a handful of tasks that revolve around making sure the business is financially intact and it is maximizing any income streams for the business to flourish.

A financial manager’s typical duties include the following:

  • Oversee the financial and/or budget department of an organization
  • Prepare financial reports of various business activities
  • Keep up with the current financial trends and be able to predict some in the future
  • Plan the long-term financial goals of the business
  • Do market trends and competitors’ analyses
  • Advise the stakeholders and executives about the next financial decisions to make
  • Interpret the gathered financial information of the business being handled
  • Create strategies to generate more income and reduce costs
  • Ensure the organization is free from any financial risks
  • Verify the compliance of the organization to any business legalities especially in the subject of finances

Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Financial Manager

Do you have what it takes to be a successful financial manager? Here is a short checklist of things you can start with on deciding to pursue the coveted role.

You communicate well.

Although it is a primary prerequisite for every job to communicate well, landing a financial manager role will push you hard to develop your interpersonal skills. For developing your interpersonal skills you can take communication courses for upgrading your skills. You will be talking to a lot of different people coming from various levels of the organizational hierarchy–from the stakeholders to executives and down to the managerial roles and team members.

The role needs someone who will be able to translate well the complex financial terms and jargons into relatable statements which anyone in the business field can understand.

People trust you at your money-handling skills.

Well, being hired as a financial manager means you are good at handling your own money. A company will not entrust their business finances if you are not good at your own. If you are known to have a good credit and your friends ask you for financial advice, you can make the cut.

Being a responsible money-spender is a good sign of expertise in financial management, so keep your credit score well-maintained to prove your reliable in finances.

You are good at problem-solving.

A financial manager faces grueling problems on a daily basis. If you are one to take pleasure in using your critical-thinking skills, then you won’t have any trouble in taking the job. The task calls for someone analytical who can keep up with the continuous flow of overwhelming responsibilities.

From negotiating deals with clients and stakeholders to finding the best strategies for the business, you shall embody a natural problem solver within you.

You are eager to learn.

As the head of finances, you are going to spearhead the team on defining the best steps to take in earning more and making sure the business finances are in their best conditions. Also, you take every opportunity to know the whats, whys, and hows of every circumstance happening as you encounter them.

Your inquisitiveness will help you do well in finances as you are proactive in learning everything by yourself. 

You like sharing knowledge.

Are you one of those people who love imparting knowledge to others? Then being a financial manager might just work for you as they are tasked to pass down relevant information and processes to their team. A lot of times, they will be teaching the financial concepts to the organization they are in, so a gift for teaching is a plus for any aspiring financial manager.

You are a good planner.

As a financial manager, you will be planning and making the financial decisions of the business, so it is important to own the skill of effective planning. A successful financial manager can plan out the best ways to grow the company income and steer clear of any financial failures. 

You can work under stress.

Anything that deals with finances is deemed to be stressful, so be prepared to be thrown in an environment where constant pressure is palpable. Though any highly classified profession carries the weight of a stressful job, one who aspires to be a financial manager has got to have the guts to take on any responsibilities thrown in his hands.

The job is not an easy task, so whoever wants to enter the field of financial management shall prepare himself to a world of complexities with highly gratifying returns.


How Do You Become a Financial Manager?

To be a financial manager, one has to go through a series of requirements needed to be in the field. These will prepare any aspiring financial professional to get in their game once hired in the field.

This is how the typical path looks like for any aspiring financial manager:

1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in any finance-related programs.

To develop the needed expertise in financial management, the first step you should take is to finish a degree that relates to the subject of finance. There are a lot of programs one can choose from upon enrolling, but Finance, Accounting, Economics, Mathematics, Business Administration, and Management are your best bets.

  • Finance – This is the most advantageous among all the choices. It paves the way for any aspiring financial professional as it generally covers anything that governs the financial realm. From financial planning, investment banking, insurance, and money handling to commercial banking, this is the perfect degree for finance pursuant.
  • Accounting – Having to deal with financial reports, an Accounting degree plays to the advantage side as it deals with business finances. A lot of work of a financial manager can be learned on taking up an Accounting degree. Though it is more in-depth with scrutinizing financial statements, a financial manager could always get ahead when equipped with adeptness in the said responsibility.
  • Economics – A degree in Economics offers a broad spectrum of business and economic-grounded knowledge. As a financial manager, you will be tasked to understand the current market trends and analyze the potential next trends—this is where a degree in Economics nags a significant advantage. 
  • Mathematics – Dealing with numbers, a financial manager can consider taking up a Mathematics degree as this can give a great overview of how to crunch up figures from a business perspective. 
  • Business Administration or Management these degree programs might be to your advantage when pursuing a career in financial management as these teach you the basics and advancements when it comes to handling an organization. 

2. Get relevant internships.

Internships show your genuine interest in growing your portfolio as a budding financial professional, so make sure you take the opportunity to get at least one. These internship programs teach you the skills and knowledge not learned at the academe. You will be faced with the real-world examples of everything you are tackling inside the four corners of the room. Also, you will have the opportunity to create connections with potential employers.

3. Earn a master’s degree (optional).

Although it is not a requirement, a master’s degree in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, or any Finance-related degrees will help you be ahead of other financial managers out there. Not only this looks good on your portfolio, but it also boosts your qualification as an effective financial manager.

4. Obtain an ample amount of working experience to land the role.

As financial managers interact with the executives and stakeholders of a company, not anyone can easily secure the managerial role—especially those who are new in the workforce. It takes an ample amount of working experience in the financial field to work your way up as the manager. 

You will typically start at the entry-level as an accountant, financial analyst, securities sales agent, and more before you get promoted to being a financial manager, which can be a controller, treasurers and finance officers, credit managers, cash managers, risk managers and/or insurance managers.

5. Acquire related licenses, certifications, and registrations.

Getting certification strengthens your credentials as a financial manager. It is not a requirement to get licensed on a specialization, but it definitely helps to build up your professional expertise. These are some of the certifications you can get as a financial manager:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification is granted to investment management professionals who have completed a degree, obtained 4-year working experience in investment decision-making, and passed three exams from the CFA Institute
  • Certified Treasury Professional is a certification from the Association of Financial Professionals which grants financial professionals the “global symbol of excellence in the treasury profession.” It only requires you to pass an exam and a 2-year relevant working experience to qualify.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the professionally accredited license for an accountant who passed the exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Financial Manager?

Financial managers need a set of strong skill sets that relate to their job as the head of finance. Here are the skills and knowledge any aspiring financial manager should instill to himself upon securing the job:

Excellent communication skills

A financial manager is expected to have the capacity to communicate well with other colleagues due to the fact that he is holding a managerial role. A financial manager interacts with various people coming from the different levels of the organizational hierarchy, so it’s essential to be articulate in explaining financial complexities into a simple elaboration.

Analytical skills

A financial manager’s role is very crucial in any organization as they spearhead the financial engagements of the company. You will encounter extreme troubles that will call for resolutions you need to make as you face them. A sharp mind and strong analytical skills should be innate to you as you are carrying a big responsibility on your shoulders.

Interpersonal skills

As the lead of the finance department, you will be communicating with other departments to lay down information to make things work in the company. You will be needing to develop exceptional interpersonal skills in order to build a rapport with the said units. A good relationship with other people working in the company makes a financial manager’s work easier to relay concerns and resolve them.

Leadership skills

Well, as a manager, a financial manager is expected to be able to run the finance department’s activities smoothly. He is leading his team on accomplishing the financial tasks of the whole company—a sense of direction and responsibility is a requirement to fulfill his duties.

Preparation of financial statements

One of the main tasks of a financial manager is to prepare the financial statements of the company. It is done for the benefit of the organization when doing internal financial reports to monitor the activities of the business. These financial statements will help the financial manager identify the next steps to do for the growth of the company in the coming months or years.

Budget Analysis

Budget preparation takes a big chunk on the roster of responsibilities a financial manager takes on. The budget of a company should align with the current goals and strategies of the organization. The financial manager’s task is to make sure the budget is in sync to these, and all the resources will be used efficiently during the timeframe given. 

Understanding of the Accounting principles

It is hard to fulfill the duties of a financial manager if the assigned person is not knowledgeable in even the basics of Accounting. This is a non-negotiable requirement for any aspiring finance professional as you are dealing with financial complexities on a daily basis. Subjects of the cash and accrual accounting, financial statements, cash flows, receivables, and payables are among the terms you have to be familiar with.

Strategic mind

As the head of the finance or budget department, you also have the task of finding strategies to reduce costs and generate more income for your company. You should be able to keep up with the current market trends to identify which are worthy investments or strategies to roll out on your company’s financial goals.

In no particular order, here are the top 43 business schools in the US that excel in offering Finance degrees according to U.S. News & World Report.

  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • University of Chicago (Booth)
  • New York University (Stern)
  • Columbia University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of California—Berkeley (Haas)
  • University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (Ross)
  •  University of California—Los Angeles (Anderson)
  • University of Texas—Austin (McCombs)
  • Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  •  Arizona State University (W.P. Carey)
  • Boston College (Carroll
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Cornell University (Johnson)
  • Creighton University (Heider)
  • Dartmouth College (Tuck)
  • Duck University (Fuqua)
  • Fairfield University (Dolan)
  • Fordham University (Gabelli)
  • Georgetown University (McDonough)
  • Gonzaga University
  • Indiana University (Kelley)
  • Loyola University Chicago (Quinlan)
  • Loyola University Maryland (Sellinger)
  • Loyola University New Orleans (Butt)
  • Marquette University (Fisher)
  • Santa Clara University (Leavey)
  • Seattle University (Haub)
  • University of Florida (Warrington)
  • University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign
  • University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
  • University of Rochester (Simon)
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Scranton
  • University of Southern California (Marshall)
  • University of Virginia (Darden)
  • Vanderbilt University (Owen)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (Olin)
  • Xavier University
  • Yale University

How to Get a Job as a Financial Manager

So you’ve learned every detail you need to know in getting into the field of the financial world—where to next? Well, you now have to go on and start finding that perfect job for you! You won’t have much trouble finding a company for yourself as any enterprise that deals with finances (basically everyone) calls the need of a financial manager.

Here is a list of ways to find your job as a financial manager:

Look up for companies that you want.

First things first, you should have your preferences that you will prioritize. After all, you have dream companies that you want to work for. You can look for job openings on these particular companies through their websites. That’s the easiest way to snag the role. Or you can also ask some connections who work for the same company and personally inquire for any job vacancy.

Get referrals from friends, former colleagues, and acquaintances.

As someone who’s in the financial realm for quite some time, you may have now accumulated a number of professional and personal connections who can hook you up a job opportunity. These people who have worked with you or personally know you are a big help in referring you to companies that are hiring. Plus, you are personally tapped, which means there’s a high probability of being hired.

Search online for job openings.

Considered it to be the easiest method of finding a job, online job websites offer you a wide selection of companies you can work for. These job openings posted online gives you an early glimpse of how your workload is going to look like so use that to your advantage by picking the best fit for you. Here are some of the most well-known job portals you can use to search for your next job:

Go to career fairs.

A practical way to score a career opportunity is through attending career fairs. This kind of events happen once in a while, at every area there is, so it’s suggested to watch out for upcoming job fairs near you when you are on a job hunt.

These are some websites you can check out to know when your area is holding a career fair:

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

The annual salary of a financial manager is quite impressive, with a median salary of $129,890, one can enjoy the highly gratifying returns of doing the job. However, just like any other profession, the geographical area affects how much a financial manager makes. Here’s the mean annual wage of financial managers in 2019, according to BLS.

State2019 Mean Annual Wage
New York$210,240
New Jersey$177,410
Rhode Island$161,880
North Carolina$150,140
South Dakota$139,620
North Dakota$133,980
New Hampshire$129,440
State2019 Mean Annual Wage
South Carolina$125,060
New Mexico$107,260
West Virginia$89,99,620

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

You’re done with looking up your prospect companies, and now you are down to crafting that resume to amplify your chances of getting hired. Aside from the non-negotiables of creating a resume—sharp objective, relevant work experiences, education, and so on—here are some additional tips to make your resume stands out among a pile of other candidates’.

1. Align your credential to the job description and requirements.

In your application to being a financial manager, it’s worth taking a look at the job requirements and job descriptions of the posting you are applying for. This way, you can ensure your skill set matches the requirements and you can align your resume to what the company needs.

Here’s how the job descriptions and job requirement template usually looks like:

Financial Manager Job Summary

We seek a highly skilled and reliable finance manager to join our growing company. In this job, you will play a vital role in monitoring the financial activities of the organization while providing the needed guidance to the upper management on financial planning.

The financial manager’s goal is to help the company’s leaders to create sound business decisions and materialize the company objectives.

Financial Manager Duties and Responsibilities

  • Monitor day-to-day financial activities within the organization, including payroll, invoicing, and more transactions
  • Prepare management reporting monthly and quarterly
  • Aid in the strategic data analysis, research, and modeling
  • Help manage the organization’s financial accounting, monitoring, and reporting
  • Check compliance with accounting policies and regulations
  • Oversee financial department employees
  • Help acquire outside finance services such as tax preparation, auditing, banking, investing, and more if necessary
  • Review the financial status and performance of the company to identify necessary improvements
  • Create strategies to minimize the financial risks
  • Research new market trends
  • Present financial reports to board members, executives, stakeholders, and clients during meetings 

Financial Manager Requirements and Qualifications

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting, or any related field; MBA is preferred
  • 5+ years’ experience in financial management
  • Ability to interpret large quantities of complex data into actionable information
  • Exemplary strategic planning experience in a managerial role
  • Proficient in MS Excel, PowerPoint, and some financial management software
  • Creative and critical thinking skills
  • Knowledge in financial reporting using data mining tools like SQL, Access, etc.
  • Able to handle multiple  high-value projects simultaneously
  • Stellar written and  verbal communication skills
  • Professional certifications like CFA/CPA are a plus

2. List down your certifications garnered.

A roster of certifications and licenses instantly boosts your resume as this shows how adept you are in financial management. Your hard-earned titles won’t go into waste as these are highly preferred by employers. So to polish your resume, make sure to add each certification you have and supply little details about when you got it and what its specialization is. The more you can list down; the more impressive your resume is going to look.

Here is a list of certifications a financial professional can pursue to boost his credentials:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
  • Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

3. Add reliable references.

It’s a given that you already have worked prior to jumping up a notch to become a financial manager so you have good options as to who you are listing down as your character reference. Former colleagues and superiors you have worked with closely during your previous jobs fit perfectly as references because they can provide the precise work ethics you have. Just make sure as you put them in your resume, you have their permission to have them asked by any possible employer.

4. Put every detail of your career in reverse chronological order.

An employer will lose interest if you have written down things in chronological order. Remember, they want to find out the latest happenings in your career. They also want to see the growth of your career over time, so be sure to put in all the relevant working experiences, trainings, seminars, and educational background that will strengthen your employability.

Ace Your Financial Manager Interview

Finally, you have secured that awaited interview! What to do now? Well, of course, you have to prepare answers for possible questions to be asked on you. This is not your first time to attend an interview, so you know how the drill works. You are going to get asked about yourself, what you did in the past, and your future career plans—we’ll skip those. Instead, we are going to focus on the main points of the interview that relate to the job.

Here are the possible questions you should prepare for your financial manager interview:

1. Describe your role as the financial planner of the organization. How does your financial planning look like?

This question is one of the first questions to be thrown at you to warm things up. The employer wants to know how much you understand your role as the lead of the financial planning process of the organization. So give them just what they need.

Tell them your knowledge and experience gained in the past responsibilities you have handled and identify your methodology in planning the finances of a company. This question warrants your understanding of the role so be elaborative and honest on how you are going to tackle the responsibilities.

2. How do you stay in harmony with people you interact in the business?

Any similar question that asks about how well you communicate well with coworkers and external units demands an answer to your ability to build rapport within the business. As a financial manager, you will be dealing with a bunch of departments you have to talk to. Keeping a harmonious and effective communication within and outside the organization is one of your key tasks, so give examples of how you create rapport with them.

3. Explain your methodology in planning, pitching, and rolling out financial strategies?

Every employer seeks for someone who has exceptional planning skills—after all, your main job is to plan the financial activities of a company. Show them your skill set by identifying your methods and giving details about how you run them down. Just keep in mind that in order to successfully answer this inquiry, you shall be able to display your dexterity in planning.

4. What are the technological advancements you incorporate to your tasks?

Being a financial manager calls for the need to be in the loop of technological advancements that will make his work easier. Understanding the technical aspects of finances, a financial manager will learn how to use financial management software like QuickBooks, Kissflow Finance & Ops Cloud, Zoho Finance Plus, Xero, Oracle Financials Cloud, Sage Intacct, and many more. 

5. As a financial manager, how do you motivate your team members and give credit to their work?

As a leader of the team, you ought to develop good leadership skills and a sense of recognition for your team members. This question wants to know how you serve as a leader and how you give credit where it is due. Answer the question with your leadership techniques, communication and reward initiatives, and motivational strategies to show how you tick as a leader.

Those are just some of the potential questions that can be asked to you aside from the common interview questions. Just freely answer them with integrity to exude genuineness. Sit up and be confident in working up answers to prove your eagerness to land the job. That’s what the employer will want to see from you aside from your credentials.

Top Online Courses for Aspiring Financial Managers

Sharpen your skills in finance management by taking these top online courses

To gear you up on becoming a financial manager, here are some of the top online courses from Skill Success you can take that specializes in financial management:

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