Financial managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as an accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.
Financial managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in those same fields. These disciplines help students learn analytical skills and methods.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although it is not required, professional certification indicates competence for financial managers who have it. The Association of Government Accountants (AGA) offers the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation to financial managers working with federal, state, or local government. To earn this certification, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, pass examinations, and have professional-level experience in government financial management. To keep the certification, CGFMs must complete continuing professional education.
The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of work experience, or a combination of experience and education, and who pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) credential to those who have at least 2 years of relevant experience or 1 year of experience and a graduate degree in business, finance, or a related field. This association also confers the Certified Corporate Financial Planning Analysis Professional (FP&A) credential to those who have a bachelor’s degree or who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program with a finance-related major and will graduate within 2 years. Both credentials require passing an exam.
Certified public accountants (CPAs) are licensed by their state’s board of accountancy and must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Financial managers usually have experience in another business or financial occupation. For example, they may have worked as a loan officer, accountant, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.
In some cases, companies provide management training to help prepare motivated, skilled financial workers to become managers.
Experienced financial managers may advance to become chief financial officers (CFOs). These executives are responsible for the accuracy of an organization’s financial reporting.
Analytical skills. To assist executives in making decisions, financial managers need to evaluate data and information that affects their organization.
Communication skills. Financial managers must be able to explain and justify complex financial transactions.
Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports, such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must be precise and attentive to their work in order to avoid errors.
Math skills. Financial managers need strong skills in certain branches of mathematics, including algebra. Ability to understand international finance and complex financial documents also is important.
Organizational skills. Because financial managers deal with a range of information and documents, they must have structures in place to be effective in their work.