Make money managing money.
If an afternoon spent retooling your budget sounds like a good time, you may be the perfect candidate for a job in finance. Occupations in this industry generally involve managing money, analyzing financial information or completing similar tasks.
Factors such as income, unemployment, work-life balance and future job prospects were used to find the best jobs in finance. The following represent the top finance jobs according to U.S. News & World Report's Best Jobs rankings. Income and unemployment data comes from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median salary: $127,990
Unemployment rate: 1.4%
Financial managers make sure a business or organization's finances are on solid ground. They may work closely with executives or department heads to analyze financial data, prepare reports and make recommendations. Some specialize in a specific area of finance such as risk, insurance or credit.
A bachelor's degree in a field such as finance, accounting, economics or business administration is the standard education in this field. However, a master's degree may be preferred, particularly for higher positions in larger organizations. Employers may also look for managers who have five or more years of work experience.
Learn more about financial managers.
Median salary: $88,890
Unemployment rate: 0.9%
Often working one-on-one with clients, financial advisors help people manage their money more effectively. They make investment recommendations for long-term goals such as retirement or college and then monitor funds to track their performance. Some financial advisors may also help identify financial goals, review insurance needs and provide tax guidance.
One quarter of financial advisors are self-employed, and more than half are employed in the securities and investment sector. Most have a bachelor's degree. Financial advisors may need to be licensed by their state, depending on the services they offer. Professionals can also earn a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
Learn more about financial advisors.
Median salary: $70,500
Unemployment rate: 1.8%
The core of an accountant's job involves recording transactions and ensuring the accuracy of financial statements. However, accountants may do more than keep the books for a business. They may be involved in analyzing data, making financial recommendations and filing tax forms.
Accountants enjoy a relatively low-stress job that allows for a good work-life balance, according to U.S. News rankings. A four-year degree in accounting or a similar field is required by most employers. However, if you want to earn more money and pursue jobs at large accounting firms, consider becoming a Certified Public Accountant. CPAs need additional education and must pass a rigorous exam but are often rewarded with higher incomes and more challenging work opportunities.
Learn more about accountants.
Median salary: $120,910
Unemployment rate: 0.9%
You may not think of lawyers as having a finance job, but professionals in this field can specialize in money matters. For instance, tax lawyers work with individuals and corporations to navigate and adhere to tax laws while securities lawyers are specialists in the area of buying and selling stocks.
Attorneys need a Juris Doctor degree which means most people in this field spend seven years between their undergraduate studies and law school. Then, lawyers need to pass a bar exam so they can practice in their state. Working as an attorney can be a high-stress job, but it is one that comes with a good income and low unemployment.
Learn more about lawyers.
Median salary: $102,880
Unemployment rate: N/A
For those with an affinity for math and statistics, the work of an actuary might be a particularly good fit. Actuaries are responsible for analyzing data and determining the risk associated with certain decisions. More than 70% of actuaries work in the finance and insurance sector, where they may decide whether someone is approved for insurance coverage and what rates they will pay.
To become an actuary, you'll need a bachelor's degree in actuarial science, mathematics, statistics or a similar field. Workers can pursue professional certification from two organizations: Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Learn more about actuaries.
Median salary: $64,040
Unemployment rate: 1.7%
Cost estimators have a job that comes with good future growth and relatively low stress. Workers in the field are typically employed by trade contractors, construction companies or manufacturers to determine how much something will cost. For example, they may be called upon to determine the production costs for a new product or the construction expenses of a building.
Most people in this field have a bachelor's degree, although employers may hire people without degrees if they have applicable work experience. Cost estimators may also receive on-the-job training in software specific to their industry.
Learn more about cost estimators.
Median salary: $85,660
Financial analysts may manage mutual funds, oversee individual portfolios or analyze the risk associated with certain investments. They are finance professionals who can work with individuals or corporations, and they often specialize in following the trends of certain industries or markets.
A bachelor's degree is the standard education in this profession, with many people studying fields such as accounting, economics or finance. Those who are selling insurance products will need a license. Financial analysts can also receive certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst from the CFA Institute.
Learn more about financial analysts.
Median Salary: $63,040
Unemployment rate: 3.2%
Just as their name suggests, loan officers review loan applications to determine whether funds should be extended to a person or business. They may meet with applicants personally, recommend an appropriate type of loan and review applicants' financial information. Loan officers may specialize in a specific type of lending, such as mortgages, commercial loans or consumer loans.
While mortgage loan officers need to be licensed, other workers generally only need a bachelor's degree and some on-the-job training. Most loan officers work full-time in an office. While the unemployment rate for this profession is higher than other jobs mentioned here, it is expected to have above-average future growth.
Learn more about loan officers.
The best jobs in finance:
-- Financial manager.
-- Financial advisor.
-- Cost estimator.
-- Financial analyst.
-- Loan officer.