How to become a financial analyst in the USA

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How to become a financial analyst
How to become a financial analyst

The future Wall Street wolves, who dream of wearing fancy suits and earning huge annual bonuses, have many important decisions to make. Among the most pressing questions are which university to enter and which financial specialty to choose. It is a vital issue, so let us discuss it in detail. 

Young people dreaming of a career on Wall Street often ask the question of which university to choose. This is a fair question as barriers to entry into many industries can be overcome through good academic performance and skills in areas such as quantitative analysis and analytical thinking.

If you want to get a job at a leading investment bank or hedge fund, studying at an elite institution is a must. Competitive institutions with a large alumni base located in the northeastern United States provide students with a special advantage. The top 10 most valuable US universities include Ivy League Universities such as Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, Penn, Cornell, and Princeton, as well as New York and Boston Universities.

Which financial specialty to choose?

You don’t need to have a degree in finance to get a job as a financial analyst. Investment banks and other Wall Street firms are looking for evidence of learning achievement, not evidence of any particular specialty. Much of the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as a financial analyst will be acquired through on-the-job training. Therefore, potential employers will evaluate your ability to learn rather than memorize Excel functions.

Of course, a major in Finance won’t hurt you. However, there are several other majors that can be just as attractive. For example, mathematics, economics, engineering, and most other science-related majors will give you the analytical and quantitative skills you need to impress any Wall Street company. 

What salary can you expect?

Seventy to eighty hours a week is common for a novice financial analyst. In addition to working hours, it is beneficial for young analysts to communicate with potential clients, as well as with other professionals in the field during their limited free time. 

Salary expectations for financial analysts are pretty high. Especially when you consider that the base salary doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, analysts at many private firms can double their base salary through performance bonuses.

The average base salary for financial analysts in the United States is $93,000 with a bonus of $37,500. Successful analysts fill positions such as assistant, vice president, director, and managing director with excessive pay increases. Entry-level positions at leading Wall Street hedge funds have average salaries of $320,000. As of 2022, the average wage on Wall Street is over $480,000, the highest since the 2008 crash.

Financial analyst salaries are expected to grow by 11% through 2026, faster than the average. However, competition for these vacancies is likely to remain fierce. The industry is so cutthroat that many Wall Street banks and private companies start recruiting top-tier potential candidates two years before a position becomes available.