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How to Become a Financial Analyst

Career News August 26, 2013

To be a financial analyst, you need to be extremely smart and excellent with numbers. You need a degree in a subject like accounting, statistics, financial markets or others. You then have to decide if you want to attain a master’s degree and if you want to be certified or licensed. Various jobs may require any or all of the above.

What Does a Financial Analyst Do?

A financial analyst takes numbers, past and present projections, industry data and associated data, and mixes them together to come up with trend lines and plans for dealing with the world of business. You become the planning person for those who make decisions and give them some reasonable assurances that the world will behave sanely and consistency, despite the fact that it seldom does. Your job is to see and avoid business decisions that would result in the new “Edsel.”

How difficult is it to become a financial analyst? Well, you start with a four-year degree, perhaps add a master’s degree, and then go for certification, which are three tests over two to five years. Then, you can consider licensure, which is required for some jobs. A substantial commitment to say the least, without considering the four years of experience required to make it all happen. However, the work is fascinating and worth it for the right person.

Who Do Financial Analysts Work For?

You would work for any number of companies in a multitude of industries or for the government. Depending on which government agency you worked for, specific licensure may be required, particularly in the regulation areas. It is a far broader pool of possibilities than one may imagine, but it can be both challenging and satisfying. You have a chance, as a financial analyst to alter a company’s future and make a good living while doing it.

Government uses financial analysts, as well as business. Most analysts are connected to the bond markets and serve a special purpose in that arena. They have also shown themselves to be remarkably correct more times than not. There are always futuristic visions, graphs and pie charts in the profession, as well as tight deadlines.

College Goals

So start with accounting, marketing, or another related business course and proceed from there. There is not a specific course that is an entry way, but it does have to be business specific. Work on internships while in college. This work experience, even when unpaid, can count as experience as long as it is hands-on and under an authority’s supervision. In order to become a financial analyst, you need strong commitment, so you should decide early on what your long-term goals are. You need 4 to 5 years pertinent business experience on top of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You need to achieve certification that entails two to five years of study and work, and three tests, which is a significant commitment on its own.

The locale you work in depends on your talent and desire. New York and Washington are obvious destinations, but your talents are imbued with math and other such universal subjects. Your career could carry you anywhere in the world and be just as useful to you as it is to helping others.

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  • Live classes are held online and coursework is self-paced.
  • Students in the DataScience@SMU program have access to dedicated support services and join the Southern Methodist University (SMU) alumni network after graduation.
  • Students attend an in-person immersion at the SMU campus in Dallas, Texas.
  • The curriculum is truly interdisciplinary, bringing together subjects that data scientists use in the field every day.
  • Coursework is pulled from three SMU schools: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts.
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  • Live online classes: All classes are held weekly on a face-to-face video platform and are kept small, with a low student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Renowned faculty: The program is designed by many of the same School of Information (I School) faculty and data science professionals who teach our on-campus programs.
  • Multidisciplinary curriculum: Course work is designed with a project-based approach, encouraging the application of tools and methods to solve problems.
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