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Financial Manager Career Outlook

Financial managers have the responsibility of overseeing the financial health of organizations, such as private and public corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. Through their expertise and knowledge, financial managers assist organizations in sustaining financial health by producing financial reports, projecting profits, and directing investment activities, as well as with providing guidance on compliance with laws and regulations of the organization’s respected industry. Students obtaining a Master of Public Administration degree may seek employment within this field, so it is important to understand the duties, skills and requirements of a typical financial manager.

Education & Experience

Before becoming a financial manager, individuals tend to have a background in finance, such as through experience gained in a leadership position within a company. Although the minimum qualification requirement is a bachelor degree and extensive work experience in a related industry, more financial managers are finding that a master’s degree can help with developing the skills, experience, and connections needed to advance within the industry. In particular, advanced learning can help students develop more robust analysis strategies, management techniques, as well as analytical and communication skills. Communication is specifically important for financial managers, as they often must translate complex topics for clear employee comprehension. As a result, financial managers looking to advance in the industry tend to select a graduate program with coursework that crosses finance with communication and organizational leadership, such as a Master of Public Administration program.


Although the job market is competitive, the occupation is growing, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2024, the number of financial manager jobs will grow by 7%, creating an additional 37,700 jobs. Annual wages of financial managers often depend on which section of public administration that they work within, with federal and local governments offering the highest salaries of $107,120 and $99,760, respectively.


Today, the duties of financial managers have expanded beyond managing organizational earnings and expenses to include examining complicated statistics and formulas to develop new methods for increasing efficiency and revenue. Current duties depend largely upon the organization that they’re working for, yet some of the typical responsibilities may include:

  • Developing financial reports that highlight current activity, as well as predictions for future quarters
  • Staying up-to-date on industry trends, as well as laws and regulations
  • Managing and providing leadership to peers
  • Analyzing company reports to uncover irregularities, as well as potential options for cutting expenses
  • Assessing markets to expand income within current investments and find new and more profitable investments
  • Assist executives in making decisions that can determine the future of the organization

Depending on the type of organization, financial managers may also be responsible for specific assignments that are relative to the firm’s sector. For example, financial managers that work with local governments should understand state and federal laws and regulations, while nonprofit financial managers should understand the protocols for earning and maintaining nonprofit status.


To accomplish these duties in an effective manner, there are a number of skills that financial managers will need, including:

  • Communication – One of the key responsibilities of financial managers is communicating in a lucid and effective manner so that peers and employees fully understand the intricate process of financial management and clearly comprehend potential projections and reports. Effective communication is particularly important for financial managers that work directly with high-level executives who rely on the provided information to make important decisions.
  • Analytical – Financial managers may spend long hours analyzing data and formulating conclusions to share with their organization’s leaders. In order to be effective with this task, they should have exceptional analytical skills as a number of a firm’s decisions may be based upon the analysis and reports provided by financial managers.
  • Alert & Aware – Remaining alert and aware is essential for working within the financial industry, especially considering that a few missed mistakes could lead to conclusions that completely alter a report, or incorrectly influence a company’s decision or investment. Staying vigilant is particularly true for the financial managers that take on accounting responsibilities.

By earning a degree in public administration, a finance manager can become equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to manage or serve in various high-level positions in a governmental agency or special interest groups, such as professional or political organizations. These degree holders may also be able to work as financial consultants. Public administration degrees may also provide financial managers with the opportunity to assist the public, be it in a local or international setting.

Traditional Forms of Financial Managers

  • Cash Managers oversee the cash flow of the organization in efforts to ensure that the firm’s financial needs are being appropriately adhered to. This position is primarily responsible for assessing future projections which highlight whether there may be a deficit or surplus of cash.
  • Treasurers plan and oversee an organization’s financial plan to ensure that the company is on track to reach annual goals. Treasurers also oversee acquisitions, direct investing, and raising capital, primarily through the stock market, in efforts to achieve designated goals.
  • Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are responsible for developing documentation on the firm’s financial performance, which typically occurs on a quarterly and annual basis. CFOs may also be responsible for making projections on future profits, as well as an annual budget that assists the firm in achieving its objectives.
  • Risk Managers must understand potential risks and develop initiatives that prevent the potential for financial loss. Primarily, risk managers should be concerned with a firm’s exposure to uncertain or unstable conditions within the financial market, as these insights can greatly diminish current and future losses.
  • Controllers usually have an accounting background and oversee the development of financial statements, some of which may relate to future projections, quarterly revenue, and past expenses. Additionally, controllers should be comfortable in developing quarterly and annual budgets, as well as conducting extensive audits.

Financial managers are integral to the financial health of the organizations they represent. Along with running complex statistics and formulas, financial managers may be responsible for effectively communicating their reports and findings with organizational leaders to ensure short and long-term financial health. The curriculum provided by a Master of Public Administration program can help individuals improve their communication abilities and assist in the development of skills that can help them advance within the industry.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration program is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary program that helps produce graduates with the skills needed to effectively manage a demanding and evolving industry. Our rigorous curriculum helps provide you with an all-inclusive study of organizational management concepts, decision-making processes, strategic planning, and fiscal management.

Recommended Readings
4 Project Management Budgeting Tips for Public Administrators
5 Reasons to Pursue an Online Master of Public Administration


Financial Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Financial Manager; Summary, US. News

Salary and Career Info for a Masters in Public Administration Degree,

Financial Manager; Work Environment, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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