A financial analyst compiles financial information on companies and industries and analyses it in order to provide a recommendation to potential investors. Many of them work for investment banks, pension funds and insurance companies, providing a financial framework for investment decisions.
Research for a financial analyst includes reading the financial statements and 10Ks filed by publicly held firms; great importance is put on quarterly reports that compare a firm's performance with the current three month period to the same period in the previous year. They incorporate tax changes, commodity prices, and relevant costs and expenses before making a rating on investment viability.
An aspiring financial analyst will need at minimum a bachelors degree in finance, business administration, economics or accounting. Increasingly, a masters degree or an MBA is important to employers who are hiring financial analysts.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority licenses all financial analysts; there are several licenses that may be applicable depending on the nature of the work.
There were 221,000 financial analysts working in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Forty percent of them worked for large scale investors like insurance companies, security companies and pension funds. Many are employed by the government in various agencies.
Financial analyst jobs are expected to grow 37% over the decade 2006 - 2016, according to Department of Labor estimates. That is one of the fastest growing job categories tracked by the Federal Government.
Lowest 10% $20.33 $42,280
Median Salary $33.85 $70,400
Highest 10% $65.97 $137,210
Source: U.S. Department of Labor