Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
The study of professional financial processes and markets are inroads to virtually any career field possible. For international students looking for both a challenging and rewarding career, studying finance may just be the perfect industry. In your decision of how to invest in yourself—and your career—the kind of options and doors a career in finance provides might just be the investment into a rewarding future.
If you're thinking about your next degree as an investment, it may be a sign that pursuing a degree in finance is for you. You may wonder, "What kind of jobs can I get? How can I pay for my degree?" or "What kind of salary will I earn?" Finance majors enjoy some of the highest salaries in the job market, have many scholarships opportunities, and will have access to jobs and internships with a wider range of organizations after graduation than most other fields of study.
Do you think a career in finance might be for you? Consider the main areas of the financial professional field. The financial system is the means through which value is assigned to and invested in each part of the world's economy. Finance is about how people and organizations do or should create and manage wealth through managing expenses and developing investment portfolios. The financial sector provides tools for making decisions about how and where money, or liquid assets, should be spent or invested and for how long. Groups with more capital than they can use for themselves spend a lot of time and effort making decisions about where the best place to invest it, in an attempt to get the most ideal, or highest return on their investment in a given amount of time. The competition between organizations and individuals to attract these investments motivates them to invent better products & systems and create better jobs for more people.
Within academic institutions, finance programs may be housed as a sub-category of general business programs, but offer distinctive marketable skills. Some of the top study programs for finance in the US are University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), University of Chicago (Booth), and New York University (Stern). For any school or program you consider, you'll find that each degree program is structured differently and will require students to meet slightly different entrance standards and enroll in specific courses.
Pursuit of a finance degree will often include required courses like economics, statistics, accounting, business, and other math courses. You'll study the way that liquid assets are developed and managed. International students may also gain additional advantages by pairing a concentration in finance with a concentration in language or regional studies. Following several years of global financial crisis and re-structuring—an issue that is likely to continue to remain central both locally and globally for the foreseeable future—expertise in finance paired with language- or region-specific knowledge are likely to remain valuable. You can use the experiences you gain in the courses you take to help guide you to decisions about what kind of internships and jobs you might be interested in pursuing in the financial sector once you're ready.
Those international students who study finance often earn some of the highest salaries once they enter the job market. Many students who earn a degree in finance in the US later earn starting annual salaries between $30,000–$50,000 USD in the US, and can advance to earn between $45,000–$65,000 USD annually with a few years of experience, depending on the type of position they accept.
The decision to study finance opens doors to perhaps some of the widest ranges of jobs available, as every type of organization needs financial assistance and oversight, no matter what they do. Since graduates from finance study programs have skills that are valuable to so many different kinds of organizations, many groups offer scholarships on websites like IEFA.org which international students can use to connect with groups interested in investing in their education in finance by performing simple searches.
International students who study finance should view their degree as a smart investment for many reasons. The work of a finance professional is often challenging, but because finance is such a core part of the job market, financial professionals enjoy a wide variety of career options. If finance is a field you're interested in pursuing a career, the advantages are clear.