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How to Become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Career News August 23, 2013

You don’t have to take risks to make lots of money in a long-lasting career. However, you do have to provide value. The skills and discipline of a CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, are indeed truly valuable to a company that is trying to stay profitable. It sounds like a job you might find at the end of a long and illustrious career, right? Actually, it can be within your grasp with some commitment and some time.

What Does a CFO Do?

A CFO has major responsibilities to the company he or she is employed by, including controllership duties, which involve presenting and reporting accurate financial information. You’re not just creating and editing records like a CPA—you’re actually responsible to the shareholders, creditors, employees and analysts. Decisions involving the entire company are made based on the information that the CFO provides.

The CFO also has treasury responsibilities, which means he or she is responsible for the financial condition of the company. This executive will decide how to invest the company’s money, and will oversee capital structure, equity, financing and other issues. Thirdly, the CFO must be active on forecasting and developing strategy for a good business economy. You might even say the whole future of the company is riding on major decisions influenced or ordered by the Chief Financial Officer.

How Do You Become a CFO?

A Chief Financial Officer must not only be skilled as a student of finance, but also have a broad range of knowledge that will help a company’s planning stages. CFOs are expected to understand accounting practices, business strategy, investor point-of-view and technology. Corporate experience is also required since this is where you will be involved, and treasurer or controller experience in particular is essential.

Certified Public Accountants do sometimes move up to CFO positions, since they have experience in presenting and collecting financial information. However, the big business environment is important since you will be positioning yourself as a major team builder, one who can delegate, encourage others, and deal with all business departments.

College Training

While you could take a course for CPA or business, some colleges actually offer CFO leadership training as a degree or certification. Subjects in this training course might focus on information technology, policies, security, transformation, management, and of course, heavy financial training. You can start learning at a bachelor’s degree level and work your way up to a master’s degree or even a doctorate in a related field.

This is a high-paying career option, considering that even small companies will pay CFOs $100,000 to $200,000 per year, while larger corporations can pay three to ten times that figure. If this kind of responsibility and pay interests you then the primary focus right now should be learning business administration, finance theory, economics or perhaps even subfield training, such as medicine or education. While it is possible for a lower level executive to be promoted to a high ranking position, more and more companies requesting strong analytical and communicative skills, not to mention a thorough understanding of complex financial data. This is what college training can do for you—give you the extra edge!

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4 Program(s) Found
  • Enhance organizational performance and create effective traditional and virtual teams through motivation, organizational culture, and change management.
  • Address the legal and ethical implications of human resources and administration in an organizational setting.
  • Analyze business policy and strategy in relationship to competitors.
  • Resolve conflict by utilizing various management styles and best practices.
  • Understand employment and compensation requirements including insurance, salary, labor, health, and safety.
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Available business concentrations include Accounting, Economics, General Management, Marketing, and Human Resource Management.
  • Ranked among the Best Online MBA and Online Graduate Business Programs in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Programmatic accreditation provided by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Campus-based and online business programs include Entertainment Business (BS), Internet Marketing (BS), and Business Intelligence (MS)
  • Students will explore business concepts like marketing, global media management, and business technology and design
  • Courses designed to prepare students for a career in business and Career Development advisors available to all alumni
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • The online format of the program combines live weekly classes, multimedia coursework, and collaborative group learning exercises.
  • The program prepares information professionals to design and manage mission-critical information technologies within organizations.
  • Students will learn to leverage IT resources for strategic advantages, improve organization-wide information management, and develop more effective IT policies for government, corporate and nonprofit organizations.
  • Designed and taught by Syracuse faculty, our online master’s degree programs promote close collaboration and innovative thinking as students work toward harnessing the power of information to solve complex challenges.
  • 42-credit MS in Information Management which can be completed in as little as 21 months
  • 30-credit MS in Information Management for Executives, which requires students to have six or more full-time professional experience in the information management field. This track can be completed in as little as 15 months.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses

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