Top Paying Salaries for Business Finance Majors

by Rick Suttle

Finance majors earned the highest starting salaries among business majors as of 2012, according to the NACE Salary Survey. While finance majors started at an average of $69,500 a year, the average starting salary for all business majors was $51,541. Finance majors can pursue numerous career paths, including banking, accounting and financial analysis. However, the best pay in the field is earned by financial managers, who plan or direct accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities and other financial activities for employers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to become a top-paid financial manager, you need at least a bachelor's degree. In return, you can expect to earn a six-figure income.

Financial Manager Average Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that financial managers earned average annual salaries of $123,260 a year as of May 2012. The top 10 percent earned $187,199 or more a year. To become a top-paid financial manager, you need at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, business, economics or a related major. Most finance managers have more than five years of industry experience. After four years in the industry, you may also consider getting certified as a Chartered Financial Analyst through the CFA Institute, which can enhance your prospects in the financial industry. You must pass three exams to earn Chartered Financial Analyst status, the BLS reports.

Securities Industries Pays the Most

In 2012, financial managers who worked for securities and commodities exchanges earned the highest average salaries of $171,380, according to the BLS. The New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange are examples of securities and commodities exchanges. Financial managers also earned considerably high salaries working for securities and commodities brokerage firms at an average of $165,830 annually. At an accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping or payroll services company, the yearly average was $155,270. The biggest employers of financial managers were companies that provide depository credit intermediation services, which includes commercial banks and savings institutions. The average pay here was $104,600 a year.

Top Pay in New York

Among the states, financial managers in New York earned the highest average salaries of $170,370 a year, according to 2012 BLS data. Those in New Jersey and Delaware made the second and third highest average annual salaries at $145,530 and $145,130, respectively. If you worked as a financial manager in California, you'd average around $137,150 annually. Financial managers in Washington, D.C. averaged $135,760 a year.

Slow Job Growth

The BLS projects a 9 percent increase in jobs for financial managers from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than the 14 percent national average for all occupations. Jobs for financial managers are highly contingent on the economy, and you may find more available jobs in this field if the economy is in good shape. Jobs for self-employed financial managers are expected to increase at an above-average rate of 20 percent, the BLS reports. Jobs in the depository credit intermediation industry are expected to decrease 14 percent during this decade.

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