Finance continues to be one of the most lucrative career opportunities while at the same time requiring less formal education than other highly paid fields such as medicine. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, particularly at the more senior levels, finance is a promising field for women. More and more pressure is being brought to bear on businesses to diversify their workforce and leadership, meaning that more opportunity for growth and leadership development could be found in finance businesses in the coming years. Job security is high since financial professionals are in high demand, have access to critical information, and are integral to business operations and success.
There are many different career types in the financial sector, from Wall Street traders to more garden-variety accountancy and bookkeeping roles. More senior financial professionals may manage staff, make recommendations to leadership, and help shape the success and direction of organizations. Coaching core staff on project management and operations can fall within a finance professional’s duties, creating opportunities for connection, collaboration, and good people skills to contribute to success. Other roles focus on a specific subset of financial management, such as account payables, payroll, or project accounts.
To get a sense of potential education and growth trajectory available to women considering a career in finance, we can look at an established professional’s career path. Joey Horn completed a moderate amount of education; her undergraduate degree was a BA from Williams College, during which time she was already working as a financial analyst. This makes it clear that a targeted economics, business, or accounting course of study is not necessarily a prerequisite to a career in finance, though attention should be paid to how you might get your foot in the door. Horn’s second degree, an MBA from Yale University, was likely integral to her future success. She had reached a directorship while completing her MBA, and quickly rose to a vice president position. Dedicated, management-level study such as an MBA provides the expertise and credibility for those interested in senior and leadership-level finance roles, and a recognized school such as Yale not only carries weight with employers but also exposes you to beneficial relationships for lifelong networking and opportunity.
You can see how this strong foundation helped launch Horn’s career, as she continued on to a series of director, vice president, and partner roles as a finance management and leadership professional. Having built her career, she enjoys the freedom of operating as an independent consultant with in-demand skills and experience.
For women considering their future career path, or looking to make a change to an existing career, finance can make the most of their skills and talents while offering significant and meaningful rewards. With as little as six years of studies and a clear growth trajectory, those with leadership qualities, strong communication and interpersonal skills, an eye for detail, and excellent analytical capabilities can shine and achieve a trusted, valued position. There’s a surprising amount of flexibility as you launch your career. It’s possible to get an entry-level job and work your way up while adding educational credentials where appropriate. Alternately, zeroing in on a solid foundational degree, participating in internships, and completing an MBA are all options.
An individual’s taste for challenge and achievement will also determine which path in finance suits them. Some women may prefer a lower-intensity career path with more flexible hours or less responsibility. Bookkeeping and finance support roles in smaller companies, as a remote worker, or in a part-time capacity can allow freedom and flexibility, reliable employment, and competitive compensation. For the more ambitious, a management position in a smaller company’s finance department or an analyst role might provide the challenge and rewards that they desire. For the highest-achieving individual, launching a career in finance could take them to the very top. Directors, VPs, and C-Suite leaders often have a background in finance and take on a wide variety of high-intensity challenges on a regular basis.
Careers in finance offer incredible opportunity to those seeking stability and job security, as well as more ambitious women seeking exceptional challenges and opportunities. While men have traditionally dominated the industry, more and more women are building impressive careers, achieving impressive heights, and enjoying the fruits of their labor. And with a greater push for equal opportunity in the field and in leadership, there’s never been a better time to dive into a finance career, prove yourself, take on new challenges, and reach for the top.