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Career Paths for MBA in Applied Finance Graduates

Organizations of every type rely on professionals with finance expertise to guide financial planning, investments and other aspects of financial management. With this broad demand, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance can prepare graduates to pursue various career paths across sectors and industries.

The online MBA with a Concentration in Applied Finance program at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) helps students expand this career versatility. The program combines core business management studies with leadership skill development and advanced, targeted finance coursework. The integrated skills, knowledge and credentials graduates gain can give them a distinct competitive edge in the crowded finance job market.

How Do I Know if a Career in Finance Is Right for Me?

A Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey found that over one-third of prospective business school students are interested in pursuing careers in finance when they graduate. Investopedia notes that “jobs in the financial sector can be highly lucrative, which helps explain why they’re in such great demand.”

Getting a high-paying job with a good deal of advancement potential motivates many people. But, with so many people interested in a finance career, competition for jobs can be fierce. Plus, employers expect quite a bit of their employees. As a result, positions may require lengthy and irregular hours.

Finance professionals must handle high-pressure, high-stakes environments and love the analysis and application of economic and financial theories. Still, variety in finance roles and industry applications for financial services can equate to distinctly different career paths from which grads can choose.

What Types of Work Can an MBA in Applied Finance Prepare Me For?

The most common and straightforward applications of a finance MBA are roles in investment banking, corporate finance or financial advising. Professionals working in finance sector firms or as independent financial advisors provide clients with services like financial analysis, planning, consulting and investment portfolio management. Professionals in corporate finance may perform the same functions within their organization, analyzing, managing and guiding its financial operations and investments.

UIS’ applied MBA in finance coursework prepares students to work in all these areas. Students also study an array of business topics like information technology management, marketing and organizational behavior. The program helps students develop advanced critical-thinking, leadership and strategic decision-making skills.

This combination of specialized finance expertise, generalized business knowledge and strategic leadership skills helps graduates excel in managerial roles beyond the traditional financial sector.

What Are Some Careers I Could Pursue with an MBA in Applied Finance?

The career trajectory for finance professionals will vary depending on the environment. Financial advisors, for instance, may start as analysts for a financial consulting firm and work their way up to financial advisor or financial planner roles. The next level of advancement is that of senior advisor. Once a professional builds experience and a reputation in this position, a financial advisor could also leave to start their own firm.

Investment bankers similarly start as analysts or associates and work their way up through the ranks of portfolio managers, investment managers and so on. The “investment banker” umbrella includes many roles, like securities traders of certain sorts, venture capitalists and more. These environments lead to a great deal of innovative investment in green tech and fintech.

Professionals who work in finance roles for corporations may start as financial analysts or specialists and progress through finance manager or director roles. While titles may vary by organization slightly, the top of the corporate finance food chain is often the chief financial officer (CFO) or vice president (VP) of finance.

Here is a snapshot of average annual base salaries for finance-related jobs according to BusinessBecause’s analysis of Glassdoor data (May 2021):

  • Financial analyst: $72,000
  • Financial manager: $96,000
  • Finance director: $146,000
  • CFO: $154,000
  • VP Finance: $173,000

Finance MBA graduates can apply their diversified skillsets effectively in any number of industries and fields, from marketing to nonprofit management. There is no question that career possibilities are expansive for professionals with the knowledge and competitive edge from an MBA in finance degree.

Learn more about University of Illinois Springfield’s online Master of Business with a Concentration in Applied Finance program.

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