Like all graduate-level degrees, MBAs demand a considerable amount of time and work from students. But in the end, the outcome -- a solid career path and a potentially high salary -- usually justifies the workload.

Using data, this page demonstrates that an MBA in finance can lead to fruitful careers. In fact, many financial managers earn over $120,000, and the industry may grow by 19% in the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects. For more information about the job outlook for MBA graduates in the field of finance, keep reading.

What Can You Do With an Online MBA in Finance

You can pursue several high-paying careers with a finance degree: financial manager, chief financial officer, and financial controller. Learn more about these careers and salaries in the table below.

Financial Manager Average Salary: $127,990
  • Large and Medium Corporations
  • Public Sector
Financial managers oversee money matters for businesses, government groups, and nonprofit organizations. They review company finances and prepare financial reports. These professionals may also help the company's management decide how to allocate their financial resources.
Chief Financial Officer Average Salary: $130,872
  • Large and Medium Corporations
Chief financial officers work in executive positions in companies. They take on the highest level of financial management, which means they direct a company's spending policies and budget administration. These professionals may also take on other high-level accounting tasks. CFOs often need good public speaking skills, as they present financial reports to the rest of the company's administration.
Financial Controller Average Salary: $81,627
  • Large and Medium Corporations
  • Public Sector
Financial controllers prepare financial reports for companies. They produce other important money-related documents like balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and financial prospectuses. They may also manage certain departments, like the finance or accounting department.
Sources: BLS/PayScale

Learn More About MBA Finance Degrees, Programs, and Careers

Finance Pay Comparison

How much you can make with an MBA in finance versus a bachelor's in finance depends on many variables, including where you work, how long you work, and what title you hold. The following chart illustrates the difference in median pay between bachelor's degree holders and master's degree holders in sample finance jobs.

Degree Job Average Job Salary
MBA Senior Financial Analyst $79,447
Bachelor's Financial Analyst $59,890
Source: PayScale, 2019

Interview With a Finance Expert

Brandon Renfro is an assistant professor of finance and a practicing financial planner. He has worked in the financial services industry since 2010 and holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional designation from The American College of Financial Services. He lives in Hallsville, Texas, with his wife and daughter and is a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in finance? Is it something that has always interested you?

I remember the first finance lecture I ever heard in college. It was about the time value of money in a retirement planning context. That single lecture had me hooked. Only with hindsight have I realized that if something excites you that normally bores others, you have found your thing. I had no idea at the time that I would become a finance professor myself, but looking back it seems obvious. Retirement planning is still an interest of mine too, and I maintain a professional practice in addition to teaching.

What was the job search like after graduating with your MBA?

After my MBA I immediately started working part time for an investment management company. I then continued with my master's in finance and went on to my Ph.D. Fortunately, the finance field in higher ed does not suffer from the same labor surplus that other fields are known for, and I was able to quickly find a full-time academic position.

How can students set themselves apart from fellow MBA and finance graduates?

Professional credentialing beyond the MBA can be a big differentiator. Depending on the field you want to go into, CMA, CFA, or CFP could be viable options. Because MBAs are typically mid-level managers, some leadership or management experience would be useful too; this can include managing teams for civic groups or nonprofits. The edge here is to show that you can get results when given responsibility for groups or resources.

How has earning your MBA advanced your finance career path?

I was exposed to a lot of topics I likely would not have been exposed to outside the MBA. This helps even when teaching finance courses to undergraduates or in the MBA program because I am able to relate the material better to non-finance courses. There's also the universal understanding that an MBA is a practitioner's degree, which I think makes me more relatable to non-academics. Everyone knows an MBA represents a practical, application-oriented education.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects about working in finance? Some of the most challenging aspects?

The most rewarding is when you see a genuine feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment from someone you have helped. This applies to students when they finally understand a concept they have been struggling with, and also to people who feel better about their own retirement. The most challenging thing about working in finance is that people tend to have an aversion to finance much the same way they do to math. They can convince themselves that something is too difficult for them to understand. That can make it hard to help some people because you have to get past that artificial barrier.

What advice would you give to students considering pursuing an MBA and a career in finance?

Differentiate. Everyone you will be competing against in the job market will also have an MBA. That goes back to those credentials and work experience. Think about what will make you stand out and strengthen that.

What Certifications and Licenses are Needed for a Career in Finance?

For many careers in finance, you don't need to earn another license or credential after you graduate from your finance MBA online program. For some career paths, however, earning certain credentials can help you advance in your career and give you a leg up on the competition. Furthermore, a handful of careers -- like the Certified Public Accountant -- do require specific credentials to practice in the field. You'll find a few of the most widely recognized financial certifications and licenses below.

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