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What Is the Career Path for a Financial Manager?

A financial manager uses accounting, finance, tax and financial audit skills to prepare a corporation's financial statements and ensures they are complete, accurate and in compliance with accounting rules, industry guidelines and top management's recommendations. A financial manager may become an accounting manager after three to five years, depending on company, industry, experience and academic training.

Financial Manager Responsibilities

A financial manager prepares a corporation's financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), corporate policies and government regulations. A financial manager typically has a four-year college degree in accounting, finance or investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median wages of financial managers in 2008 were $99,330, excluding annual bonuses. A financial manager may advance professionally by seeking a professional certification such as a certified public accountant (CPA) license.

Accounting Manager

An accounting manager ensures that GAAP financial statements are complete and accurate. Complete financial statements include a balance sheet, an income statement, a cash flow statement and a retained earnings statement. An accounting manager typically holds a master's degree in a business field. The U.S. Labor Department reports that median wages of accounting managers were $59,430 in 2008, with the top 10 percent earning more than $102,380. An accounting manager may pursue a CPA license to increase career growth opportunities. A competent accounting manager may become an accounting director after two to five years.

Accounting Director

An accounting director may oversee accounting and reporting activities for a company's segment or area. An accounting director typically holds a master's degree in a business field and a CPA license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median wages, excluding annual bonuses, of accounting directors were $59,430 in 2008, with the top 10 percent earning more than $102,380. A competent accounting director may become a controller after three to five years.

Controller

A controller may coordinate accounting and financial reporting activities for a region, a country or business unit. A controller typically holds an advanced (e.g., master's or doctorate) degree in business or compliance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median wages, excluding annual bonuses and stock options, of controllers were $99,330 in 2008, with the middle 50 percent earning $72,030 to $135,070. A competent controller may become a chief financial officer (CFO) after five to 10 years.

Chief Financial Officer

A CFO is a corporation's finance chief and may report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO). A CFO uses finance skills and significant business experience to advise a CEO on corporate matters. A CFO typically holds an advanced degree and may be a CPA. Labor Department surveys shows that median annual wages, excluding bonuses and stock options, of chief financial officers in 2008 were $91,570, with the middle 50 percent earning $62,900 to $137,020.



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