Career Outlook: Finance

Chicagoland projections from the Illinois Department Employment Security


Standard Occupational
Base Year
Employment 2004
Employment 2014
Total, All Occupations 3,959,437 4,348,224 388,787 9.82
Financial Managers 16,206 18,024 1,818 11.22
Financial Analysts 8,824 10,423 1,599 18.12
Financial Specialists, All Other 7,076 8,107 1,031 14.57


Nationwide projections from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Standard Occupational
Classification (SOC)
Base Year
Employment 2006
Employment 2016
Total, All Occupations 150,620,175 166,220,300 15,600,125 10.36
Financial managers 506,347 570,362 64,015 12.64
Financial analysts 220,568 295,157 74,589 33.82
Financial specialists, all other 129,135 144,378 15,244 11.80


Employment of financial managers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2010. While mergers, acquisitions and corporate downsizing will continue to adversely affect employment of financial managers, growth of the economy and the need for financial expertise will ensure job growth. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance, particularly those with a master’s degree, should enjoy the best job prospects. Strong computer skills and knowledge of international finance are increasingly important; so are excellent communication skills because financial management jobs increasingly involve working on strategic planning teams.

The banking industry, which employs more than one out of eight financial managers, is expected to continue to consolidate. Employment of bank branch managers, in particular, will grow very little or not at all as banks open fewer branches and promote electronic and Internet banking to cut costs. In contrast, the securities and commodities industry will hire more financial managers to handle increasingly complex financial transactions and manage investments. Financial managers are being hired throughout industry to manage assets and investments, handle mergers and acquisitions, raise capital, and assess global financial transactions. Risk managers, who assess risks for insurance and investment purposes, are in especially great demand.

Some companies may hire financial managers on a temporary basis, to see the organization through a short-term crisis or to offer suggestions for boosting profits. Other companies may contract out all accounting and financial operations. Even in these cases, however, financial managers may be needed to oversee the contracts.

Computer technology has reduced the time and staff required to produce financial reports. As a result, forecasting earnings, profits, and costs, and generating ideas and creative ways to increase profitability will become the major role of corporate financial managers over the next decade. Financial managers who are familiar with computer software and applications that can assist them in this role will be needed.


Median annual earnings of financial managers were $81,800 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $59,490 and $112,320. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of financial managers in 2004 are shown below:

  • Security brokers and dealers – $74,580
  • Accounting, auditing, and bookkeeping – $83,380
  • Local government – $59,000
  • Commercial banks – $57,180
  • Insurance underwriters – $48,550
  • Financial analysts – $61,910
  • Budget analysts – $61,640