How to Become a Financial Analyst in 4 Simple Steps

What is a Financial Analyst?

If you have a head for numbers and a knack for solving problems, the role of financial analyst might be for you.

Financial analysts examine current and historic economic data to identify trends and determine the best financial paths.

Often, financial analysts specialize in a certain field, product, or area.

This is a complex, rewarding job that requires a broad understanding of economic, legal, and political forces that shape business ventures. Learn how to become a financial analyst in this handy guide.

Some of your responsibilities as a financial analyst may include:

  • Analyzing economic information gathered from academia, major publications, and internal reports for trends
  • Synthesizing information into a report or financial model
  • Effectively delivering your report or model to executives, teams, investors, or stockholders.
  • Maintaining databases of financial records and other valuable information
  • Investigating potential business opportunities and investments

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most financial analysts work full time and a third work over 40 hours a week. Work days are filled with meetings and calls and don’t leave much time for research, so many analysts take work home with them.

BLS states that the largest industry employing financial analysts is “securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities.” Most work in offices, traveling often to meet with clients. The majority of analyst jobs are available in financial centers in large cities, particularly New York.

The average financial analysts’ salary is: $85,660.

Top five skills needed:

Analytical skills

The foundation of a financial analyst’s job is analyzing data and extrapolating it to current financial situations. A good eye for spotting trends and patterns in copious amounts of information is invaluable to an analyst.

Math skills

You’ll be working with numbers consistently, and may need to do calculations on the fly. A strong math base is required.


Sometimes a myriad of options will present themselves to you. The ability to make a strong choice based on evidence is vital. The success of a business or a person can hang on one choice, and while some would find the pressure overwhelming, financial analysts find it exhilarating.

Technological skills

Financial analysts use software tools and databases to obtain, analyze, and apply their information. They must be confident in using and creating spreadsheets, graphs, models, and presentations.

Communication skills

Analysts don’t just crunch numbers, they apply those numbers and present them. There must be clear and effective communication between the analyst and their client. Often, a persuasive and directive manner will benefit you.

Attention to detail

One misplaced or overlooked number could have major financial ramifications. Analysts must be meticulous.

What is a Financial Analyst

Becoming a Financial Analyst

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Financial Analysts

Preparing for a future career should start as early as possible. There are several high school courses that can assist in building a strong foundation for your career as a financial analyst.


An important part of financial analyst’s career is presenting information in a clear and effective manner. Learn those skills in communication classes.


Mathematics courses in general are recommended for financial analysts to build math skills. However, statistics classes that focus on analyzing numbers are particularly helpful for future financial analysts.


If economics courses are offered at your school, particularly AP courses, take advantage of them and begin learning about the economy as soon as possible.

Beyond these basic courses, decide if you’d like to work in a specific industry and take classes to prepare you for the field. If you want to be a financial analyst for the aerospace industry, take physics.

Formal Education Requirements

The minimum degree required for financial analyst positions is a bachelor’s degree. Generally, financial analysts hold degrees in business fields such as finance or economics. However, some financial analysts hold degrees in mathematics, engineering, or physical sciences. Other analysts specializing in certain fields might obtain degrees related to the field. No matter the degree, any potential financial analyst should take business courses, especially finance and economics.

Higher level and permanent positions often require a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a master’s degree in finance. Financial analysts working in specialized fields are encouraged to obtain a higher degree in that field as well. If you’re looking to advance your career as a financial analyst, the most important step you can take is higher education.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Bachelor Of Science in Finance Degree Program 4 years

A bachelor’s program is usually four years. Most programs require a high school diploma and transcript. You can complete courses online, though in-person is preferred to gain hands-on experience and communication skills.


General Education Courses (40 Credits)

  • Success in Science, Engineering and Technology
  • University Success
  • University Success in the College of Education
  • 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy:
  • English Composition I
  • English Composition II
  • Christian Worldview
  • Applications of College Algebra
  • College Mathematics
  • Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Applications of Algebra
  • Environmental Science
  • U.S. History Themes
  • Psychology in Everyday Life
  • Everyday Sociology

Major (56 Credits)

  • Principles of Marketing
  • Introduction to Economics
  • Ethical and Legal Issues in Business
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior and Management
  • Business Statistics
  • Intermediate Economics
  • Fundamentals of Business Finance
  • Production/Operations Management
  • Intermediate Finance
  • Investments and Portfolio Management
  • Strategic Management
  • International Trade and Finance

Electives (30 credits)

  • Intermediate Microeconomics
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Entrepreneurship
  • Special Topics
  • Professional Writing in Business
  • Professional Speaking in Business
  • Business Systems Design and Applications
  • Database Management
  • Business Data Communications
  • Business Systems 1
  • Business Systems 2
  • Information Systems and Operations Strategy
  • Managerial Operations Analysis 1
  • Managerial Operations Analysis 2
  • Real Estate Analysis

The average cost of a bachelor of science in finance degree program is $60,480 – $82,500.

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master of Business Administration in Finance Degree Program 2 years

A bachelor’s degree will be required for acceptance to a master’s program, which is generally two years. An MBA is generally most beneficial to analysts.


General Education Courses (36 Credits)

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Data Analysis for Decision Making
  • Economic Analysis for Managers
  • Business Process Analysis and Innovation
  • Corporate Responsibility: Ethics and Sustainability
  • Finance Management
  • Human Resource Systems
  • Marketing Management
  • Seminar in Organizational Dynamics
  • Organization Development and Change
  • Leadership and Innovation
  • Business Strategy and Competitive Advantage Capstone

MBA Emphasis (12 Credits)

  • International Finance
  • Investments
  • Capital Markets

The average cost of a master of business administration in finance degree program is $30,096 – $69,600.

Step 4: Get Certified

Certification through the CFA Institute will benefit you career.


Bachelor’s degree, four years of work experience, and pass three rigorous tests


Level I exam has 240 multiple choice questions, Level II exam has 20 item sets (mini-cases), and Level III exam has 8-12 essays and 10 item sets.


The program enrollment fee is $450 and each test has a fee.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Financial Analyst and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1 : Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$60,480- $82,500
Certification $450
Total 4 years$60,930 – $82,950

Option 2 : Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$60,480- $82,500
Master’s2 years to 3 years$30,096- $69,600
Total6 years to 7 years$91,026- $152,500

Financial Analyst Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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