Financial Analysts


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Since financial analysts work with numbers and compile data, you should take as many math classes as are available. Accounting, business, economics, and computer classes (especially data science) will be helpful as well. A good grasp of computer spreadsheet programs such as Excel is vital. Take extra care as you research and write reports in any subject matter or in public speaking, and it will pay off later when you must conduct investment research and write and present investment recommendations.

Postsecondary Training

Most employers require that financial analysts hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, economics, finance, or statistics. Other possible majors include communications, international business, and public administration. Some companies will hire you if you hold a bachelor's degree in another discipline as long as you can demonstrate mathematical ability. In college, take business, economics, and statistics courses. Since computer technology plays such a big role in a financial analyst's work, computer classes can be helpful as well. English composition classes can prepare you for the writing you will need to do when preparing reports. Some employers require a writing sample prior to an interview.

Financial analysts generally continue to take courses to keep up with the ongoing changes in the world of finance, including international trade, state and federal laws and regulations, and computer technology. Proficiency in certain databases, presentation graphics, spreadsheets, and other software is expected. Some employers require their employees to have a master's degree in business administration or finance.

Many top firms offer summer internship programs. Check company Web sites for the particulars, such as assignments and qualifications. An internship can provide you with helpful contacts and increase your chances of landing a job when you finish with college.


The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association offers the Fundamentals of Alternative Investments Certificate Program. In this online, self-paced course, you’ll learn about traditional vs. alternative investments, risk management, investment returns and risks, due diligence, private equity and venture capital, hedge funds, and other topics. Visit for more information. 

Other Education or Training

The CFA Institute offers webcasts, podcasts, online courses, and other continuing education opportunities. Recent topics included behavioral finance, fixed-income analysis, ethics, and standards of practice. The Association for Financial Professionals and the CFA Society New York also provide continuing education. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing 

Financial analysts can earn the title chartered financial analyst (CFA). The CFA charter is recognized around the world as a standard in the finance industry. Many employers expect job seekers to be CFA charterholders. While certification is not required, it is recommended. The CFA program, which is administered by the CFA Institute, consists of three levels of examinations. These rigorous exams deal with such topics as economics, financial statement analysis, corporate finance, and portfolio management. The CFA Institute states that a candidate may need to spend up to six months to prepare for each level. The CFA Institute reports that the average candidate takes four years to earn the CFA charter. Candidates who do not successfully complete all three levels within seven years must reregister. Before taking the exams, you must already have a bachelor’s degree (or four years of professional experience) and have four years' of work experience. The Association for Financial Professionals, Chartered Alternate Investment Analyst Association, Investment Adviser Association, and Global Academy of Finance and Management also offer certification.

For certain upper-level positions, some firms require that you have a certified public accountant license.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is the primary licensing organization for the securities industry. Visit its Web site,, for more information on licensing requirements for financial analysts who work as financial services brokers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Two to three years of experience as a junior financial analyst is necessary to qualify for positions at top companies.

Research, organizational, and communication skills are crucial for this job. Financial analysts conduct in-depth research, often looking for hard-to-find data. Organizational skills are important when it comes to compiling and presenting this data. Once you have explored a company's financial situation, you must communicate complicated ideas through presentations and/or written reports. You should be able to clearly communicate ideas, both verbally when making presentations and on paper when writing reports. 

The work requires strong analytic skills, so a knack for numbers and attention to detail are also helpful. An interest in solving problems will go a long way. It is important that a financial analyst be accurate and thorough in preparing financial statements.

You should enjoy reading and be able to retain what you read, since it is important to keep up with what's happening in the industry and take it into account when offering financial solutions to employers or clients. Since many financial analysts must travel at a moment's notice to conduct research or complete a deal, flexibility is another important characteristic.

Financial analysts should be able to work well under pressure, as this line of work often demands long hours and entails strict deadlines. You should have good interpersonal skills and enjoy interacting with others. Deals or important contacts can be made at social functions or business conferences.