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How to Become a Financial Manager

Financial managers must usually have a bachelor’s degree and more than 5 years of experience in another business or financial occupation, such as loan officer, accountant, auditor, securities sales agent, or financial analyst.


A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is often the minimum education needed for financial managers. However, many employers now seek candidates with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, or economics. These academic programs help students develop analytical skills and learn financial analysis methods and software.


Professional certification is not required, but some financial managers still get it. The CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification to investment professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree, have 4 years of work experience, and pass three exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credential to those who pass a computer-based exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience.

Work Experience

Financial managers usually have experience in another business or financial occupation, such as loan officer, accountant or auditor, securities sales agent, or financial analyst. 

In some cases, companies provide formal management training programs to help prepare highly motivated and skilled financial workers to become financial managers.


Because financial management is so important in keeping business operations efficient, experienced financial managers who display a strong grasp of the operations of various departments within their organization may be promoted to management positions. Some financial managers transfer to closely related positions in other industries. Those with extensive experience may start their own consulting firms.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Financial managers increasingly assist executives in making decisions that affect the organization, a task for which they need analytical ability.

Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

Detail oriented. In preparing and analyzing reports such as balance sheets and income statements, financial managers must pay attention to detail.

Math skills. Financial managers must be skilled in math, including algebra. An understanding of international finance and complex financial documents also is important.

Organizational skills. Financial managers deal with a range of information and documents. They must stay organized to their jobs effectively.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition