Do numbers add up for you? Do dollars make sense? If so, consider investing your undergraduate years in a finance major to prepare for a career in business and financial services.
There are dozens of occupations on the finance side of the ledger. Here are a few of the most common possibilities for bachelor's degree holders:
If you've ever wondered how insurance companies determine what insurance policies should cost or who they will (and will not) insure, then explore becoming an actuary, a professional forecaster in the world of finance, particularly for insurance companies.
Actuaries gather and analyze data to predict the probability or risk of certain events taking place. These events include death, sickness, injury or loss of property. This data is used by insurance underwriters (see description below) to establish a price, or premium, for an insurance policy that is high enough to allow the insurance company to cover claims and other expenses and still make an adequate profit.
All organizations -- large, medium and small -- have limited financial resources. Budget analysts determine how an organization can best use its financial resources.
Budget analysts, who can work either in the public or private sector, offer advice and technical assistance to those in the organization who are responsible for some aspect of budgeting. They often collaborate with department and division managers to help develop and submit budgets for launching new initiatives, sustaining existing ones, and reducing costs and/or increasing revenues.
You've just won the lottery -- now what? The smart move would be to invest some or even all of the money.
Financial advisors help people invest wisely and profitably, whether they've won the lottery or not.
Sometimes called financial planners or financial consultants, these professionals use their knowledge of investment strategies, tax laws, insurance and real estate to help individuals make good financial decisions that will help them achieve their short- and long-term goals. Similarly, financial analysts -- sometimes called security analysts or investment analysts -- work with and for banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, and securities firms to help those businesses make wise investment decisions.
Like budget analysts, financial managers work for organizations, but their responsibilities are more varied and broad.
Financial managers, sometimes called controllers or finance officers, oversee the development of financial reports, manage investment-related activities and ensure that the organization implements and consistently uses sound cash-management strategies. Income-and-expenses statements, balance sheets, analyses of future revenues or expenses -- it's all under the broad umbrella of the financial manager, who needs to be well-versed in both organizational policies and procedures as well as outside regulatory laws.
Insurance underwriters, who often work closely with actuaries, use actuarial findings along with other data (e.g., medical reports, consultants' findings) to decide whether to issue insurance policies to the people or organizations that apply for them.
Underwriters also help determine the premiums to be charged for various policies based on their assessment of the insurance company's risk in issuing those policies.
These combined roles make the underwriter the main link between the insurance agent you'd meet with to discuss insurance coverage and the insurance carrier that actually issues insurance policies.
People apply for loans every day: to buy a car, purchase a home or pay college expenses. Similarly, business owners take out loans to expand their operations or obtain inventory to sell.
Loan officers are the professionals at banks, credit unions and other financial institutions who help make these loans a reality. As a loan officer, you'll be part salesperson and part analyst. You'll be the initial contact for someone seeking a loan, helping him fill out the application, and then you'll analyze and verify the information on the application to determine whether the person is a safe bet to pay back the loan.
For More Information
To learn more about these bachelor's-level career possibilities in finance, check out the following detailed reports produced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: