Finance careers in Australia

Finance careers in Australia
SEEK content teamupdated on 19 April, 2024

Do you love working with numbers, budgets and excel spreadsheets? A career in finance could be your perfect match. Australia has a thriving financial sector, with a wide range of job opportunities and pathways, making it a great career choice.

Whether you’re considering an entry-level position or side-stepping into finance from another industry, you might be wondering about the next steps to take. In this article, we explore a list of careers in finance, and dive into the pros and cons of the industry, to help you decide if finance is the right career move for you.

What are front, middle and back office roles in finance?

Generally speaking, roles within the finance sector are grouped into three categories: 

  1. Front office: speaking and emailing directly with clients. This includes providing customer service, selling products or services, and consulting or giving advice on investments.
  2. Middle office: doing support work that helps the front office staff to do their jobs, like compliance, financial control, corporate strategy, IT maintenance, etc.
  3. Back office: the nuts and bolts that keep the company running in the background, such as hiring and paying staff, clearing and settling trades, and managing day-to-day operations.

It’s important to know what the differences are between front, middle and back office roles to work out which would best suit you.

What skills do I need to pursue a career in finance?

You need a combination of soft skills and technical skills, as well as financial knowledge, for a career in finance. The exact mix of skills you need depends on which type of role you’re applying for: quantitative, client-facing or transaction focused. Whether you want to analyse data, create investment strategies or nurture client relationships, there’s a role in finance that matches your interests and abilities.

Client facing roles (front office)

When you’re in a client-facing role, you’re at the frontline of the business. That means working with customers and clients, making sales, and answering questions. Some examples of front-office roles include financial planner and investment advisor. If you enjoy working with people, solving problems, and selling products and services, a client-facing role may be what you’re looking for.

Here are some essential skills required: 

  • Knowledge of capital markets, portfolio construction and financial planning, plus a thorough understanding of financial products and services
  • Proficiency in software applications used for financial analysis
  • Communication, education/coaching, sales and business development – plus interpersonal, analytical, maths and quantitative (numeracy) skills

Quantitative roles (middle office)

Quantitative roles are focused on manipulating numbers, like analysing data or creating risk-management strategies. Related careers include financial data analysis, portfolio management and financial software development. If you enjoy working with numbers, a quantitative role may be the perfect fit to let you flex your analytical mind. Some skills and experience you might need include:

  • Experience in entry-level finance 
  • Understanding of financial markets, instruments and analysis techniques
  • Proficiency in programming languages like R, Python, SQL and SAS
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Analytical and maths skills

Transaction focused roles (back office)

Transactional roles within finance provide support to the front and middle office teams with duties like processing the day’s transactions, managing accounts administration, and making sure the business is compliant. Transactional roles include data entry, payroll, accounting, auditing – and any other internal function that keeps a business running. Some skills you might need include:

  • Maths/numeracy 
  • Analytical skills
  • Accounting skills
  • Data analysis
  • Attention to detail
  • In-depth understanding of investment strategies, market trends, and economic and political factors.
  • Spreadsheet modelling, algorithmic trading platforms, database management.
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Leadership abilities for senior roles

Careers in finance: types of job opportunities

There is a wide range of opportunities across careers in business and finance. Whether you’re a people person, prefer analytical roles, or like the idea of financial planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a lucrative career in the private sector. Or if you want to work in government, there are also ministry of finance careers to consider. 

Here’s a list of finance careers, what they involve, the qualifications you need to get the job, and how much you’re likely to earn per year. 

1. Quantitative and analytical roles

i. Data scientist 

Data scientists in finance spend their days searching for patterns in data to understand trends or solve problems for financial institutions. They create statistical models, so they need to have strong analytical and maths skills, and have experience using programming languages like R, Python, SQL and SAS.

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a relevant field such as mathematics, computer science, IT or statistics. Industry experience as a data analyst, business analyst or similar would be highly recommended.

Estimated pay range: $110k–$130k per year

ii. Data analyst

Data analysts work closely with senior stakeholders to help companies find ways to reduce costs and grow revenue. This means collecting and analysing data, looking for patterns, then presenting their findings and recommendations to the company’s leadership team, explaining what these patterns mean for the business. 

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as mathematics, computer science, IT, statistics or business analytics. Industry experience (or internships) working with raw data and programming languages would also be highly regarded. 

Estimated pay range: $85k–$105k per year

iii. Research analyst

Research analysts collect, analyse and interpret data to create investigative reports detailing different investment options for a company. They help companies make informed decisions about investing in stocks, securities and other assets to grow the business.

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as statistics, maths, marketing, business management or economics.

Estimated pay range: $70k–$85k per year

iv. Risk analyst or manager

Risk analysts identify and assess potential threats to a company’s financial and operational well-being. They use statistics and sometimes advanced maths to identify and understand these risks before suggesting ways for the company to reduce them. They also study and analyse industry trends and laws to advise companies on compliance. 

Qualifications: a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in commerce, finance, IT, maths or similar, and around five years of industry experience are needed for a job as a risk analyst. 

Estimated pay range: $100k–$120k (or $140k–$160k for a risk manager) per year

v. Forex currency traders

Foreign currency traders buy and sell international currency to make a profit, sometimes trading shares, stocks and shorts as well. Their job is to predict which currencies are likely to increase or decrease in value against the others, by analysing economic and political current events that may influence their value.

Qualifications: forex traders can come from a variety of backgrounds, however a bachelor’s degree in economics, business, maths, statistics, politics or finance is highly recommended.

Estimated pay range: $90k–$110k per year

2. Client-facing roles

i. Financial analyst

Financial analysts are responsible for the financial planning of a company. They analyse how much money a company makes and spends, and use past and current financial data to estimate future expenditure and revenue. They also plan and forecast potential financial risks to a company. 

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in finance, or a finance-related field of study such as accounting, economics, business administration or commerce.

Estimated pay range: $100k–$120k per year

ii. Private wealth manager

Private wealth managers or investment managers provide personalised financial and investment advice, and invest and manage money on behalf of private clients. They have a strong background and previous experience in finance, investment management, or financial planning. 

Qualifications: a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, economics or mathematics, and at least two to three years’ experience working in a financial investment role.

Estimated pay range: $150k–$170k per year

iii. Investment consultant

Investment specialists or consultants advise clients on investment opportunities and help them build and manage their investment portfolios. Investment consultants can work in the private or public sector. 

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in finance or a finance-related field of study such as accounting, economics, business administration or commerce.

Estimated pay range: $115k–$135k per year

3. Transaction-focused roles

i. Investment banker

Investment bankers advise and help large corporations and government agencies sell or buy securities (like stocks, bonds, banknotes or other financial assets). They provide investment advice that complies with financial regulations, and make money through fees or commissions on the financial products their clients buy. They also support clients with mergers, acquisitions, risk and wealth management. 

Qualifications: a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a finance related field such as business, accounting, economics or mathematics.

Estimated pay range: $155k–$175k per year

ii. Investment strategist

Investment strategists develop plans for how their clients’ investments are structured. This means looking at what mix of large-cap, mid-cap, international and domestic holdings is best to maximise returns, minimise risk and meet clients’ specific financial goals.

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in finance, or a finance related field of study such as accounting, economics, statistics, maths or commerce.

Estimated pay range: $150k–$170k per year

iii. Stockbroker

Stockbrokers give advice to clients regarding what trades would suit their investment goals, and make approved trades on their behalf. Most stockbrokers start as trainees or interns, under the guidance of an experienced stockbroker, learning through on-the-job training for at least the first year.

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or commerce, or a VET course in risk management and security trading, financial analysis and reporting, accounting or financial management. 

Estimated pay range: $95k–$115k per year

iv. Sales and trading

Salespeople and traders work together to find new clients for the investment company, such as major banks, insurance companies and big corporations. They prepare and present investment portfolios to prospective clients in order to sell the firm’s financial products.

Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in a finance-related field of study such as accounting, economics, sales and marketing or commerce.

Estimated pay range: $90k–$110k per year

v. Portfolio manager

A portfolio manager handles investments for clients and creates strategies that fit their needs and risk appetite. They meet with clients to:

  • understand their investment goals, 
  • develop investment plans, 
  • help them choose where to invest, 
  • manage their risks, 
  • track their investments, and 
  • advise on when it is best to sell to avoid losses.
Qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in finance or related fields such as business, accounting, economics or mathematics.

Estimated pay range: $150k–$170k per year

vi. Private equity associate

A private equity associate helps manage investments in companies. They research potential investments, analyse data and work with senior team members to make investment decisions. They help monitor current investments, look for ways to improve them and prepare reports for investors. 

Qualifications: a bachelor's degree in finance, business or a similar finance-related field, and two to four years of relevant experience in private equity, investment banking, private equity or management consulting.

Estimated pay range: $85k–$144k per year

vii. Chief investment officer

At the top of the corporate ladder is the position of chief investment officer (CIO). At this level, they are responsible for overseeing the investment activities of an organisation, like a company or a fund. CIOs make the important decisions about where to invest money to achieve the organisation’s financial goals, and work closely with other leaders to:

  • develop investment strategies, 
  • assess risks, and 
  • monitor the performance of investments. 
Qualifications: CIOs usually have a master’s degree in finance, business administration or another finance-related field, and often have additional qualifications in economics or accounting. You need a minimum of five years of professional experience at executive level and significant investment experience.

Estimated pay range: $300k+ per year + bonuses 

Buy-side vs. sell-side finance careers: What’s the difference?

There are two sides to the finance industry: the buy-side and the sell-side (some firms do a little of both). Understanding the distinction between buy-side and sell-side careers can help you decide which path best suits your skills, interests and career goals

  • Buy-side firms buy and invest securities on behalf of institutions and high-net-worth individuals, profiting from management fees and/or performance fees. Some examples of buy-side roles are portfolio manager, private equity associate, hedge fund manager, venture capitalist.
  • Sell-side firms create, promote and sell traded securities (such as stocks or shares) to the public. They do this by helping companies raise debt and equity capital, then sell these to private investors and institutional investors. Sell-side firms make their money from commission. Some examples of sell-side roles are investment banker, sales and trading, equity research, and commercial/corporate banker.

What certifications do I need to pursue a career in finance?

The type of certifications you need depends on the career you want to pursue. Here’s a look at ones that you may want to consider.


The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification focuses on management accounting, strategic cost management, and strategic business analysis, covering topics such as:

  • management control systems, 
  • customer profitability analysis, 
  • strategic governance and the strategic audit, 
  • financial analysis in product portfolio management, and 
  • risk management. 

To be accepted into the CMA program you need an MBA in accounting, finance or commerce, or a professional qualification in accounting and have completed the CMA preparatory program, along with five years’ relevant experience

This certification is best for: those in (or aspiring to be in) leadership roles in strategic finance such as accounting manager, chief financial officer, finance director, finance controller, financial analyst or financial risk manager.

Duration: delivered through either a Registered Provider Institution or via the ICMA’s online provider, the Global Business School, this intensive online course can be completed over seven days (56 hours).

Fees: $3,950 + 10% GST for Australian residents


The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program provides a strong foundation in:

  • investment analysis, 
  • portfolio management and 
  • ethical practices in the investment industry.

This certification is best for: those with backgrounds in finance, accounting, economics or business who are aspiring to roles such as as a research analyst, portfolio manager or private wealth manager.

Duration: the CFA program includes a series of three exams and is delivered by the CFA Institute. You study for the three increasingly complex exams according to an assigned curriculum, at your own pace. Generally over 300 hours of study is required in advance of successfully completing each level.

Fees: $2,000

Financial advisor insurance certifications 

There’s a range of financial adviser insurance certifications available including:

  • the Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL)
  • ASIC Financial Adviser Exam 
  • Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF)

This certification is best for: anyone working within the finance and/or insurance industries or looking to do so.

Duration: varies by specific certification and provider.

Fees: varies by specific certification and provider.

Degree courses 

You can enrol in a bachelor’s degree, honours degree or master’s degree in finance at virtually any university in Australia. Many careers in finance require at least a bachelor’s degree, with more senior positions requiring graduate degrees as well. There are plenty of options for finance degrees to suit your career goals.

This certification is best for: anyone looking to enter or progress their career in the finance industry.

Duration: a bachelor’s degree generally takes three years of full-time study.

Fees: varies by degree and provider.

Other relevant courses

There are several other certifications and courses that can be valuable for a career in finance, such as:

  • CPA (Certified Practising Accountant), and 
  • CA (Chartered Accountant).  

Duration and fees: varies by certification and provider.

The pros and cons of pursuing finance careers in Australia

When you’re looking to change careers, it’s important to weigh up a number of factors to get a better idea of your potential job’s  suitability for you now and in the future. Below are a few points to consider before you make a decision.

Pros of finance careers in Australia

  • Higher-than-average earning potential: finance careers salary ranges tend to offer high wages across the board. Entry-level salary ranges from $53k upwards, with the highest paying careers in finance having salaries of $250k upwards.
  • Prestige
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Variety in daily tasks
  • Networking opportunities with VIPs and company leaders
  • Lots of opportunities for professional development and development of transferable skills

Cons of finance careers in Australia

  • Competition for roles
  • Long hours, often including nights and weekends
  • Lack of work/life balance
  • Fast-paced and high pressure/stress environment
  • Job insecurity: many roles are offered on a contract basis rather than permanent.

Is finance the right career for you?

Before embarking on a finance career, it’s important to ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I enjoy working with numbers and analysing data?
  • Am I comfortable with risk and uncertainty?
  • Do I have strong communication and problem-solving skills?
  • Am I detail-oriented and able to work under pressure?
  • Am I interested in the financial markets and how they work?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be well suited to a career in finance. However, whenever you’re considering a major career change, it's essential to consider all the demands, challenges, pros and cons before jumping in. 

Careers in finance offer an exciting range of job opportunities if you have solid numeracy skills and an analytical mindset. Whatever your specialisation, with the right qualifications, you’ll find a wide array of roles in Australia with competitive salaries and promising career paths. 


What do most careers in finance deal with?

Most careers in finance involve:

  • managing money, 
  • analysing financial data, and 
  • making strategic financial decisions. 
This includes roles in investment management, banking, financial planning and corporate finance.

What are some careers in finance?

Some common careers in finance include:

  • portfolio manager, 
  • financial analyst, 
  • investment banker, 
  • financial planner, 
  • accountant, 
  • private wealth manager, and 
  • risk manager.

What is the highest-paid finance job?

One of Australia’s highest-paid finance jobs in 2023 was the CFO role for Macquarie Bank, at a salary of $10.5 million. The highest-paying jobs in finance are usually CFO roles or those in investment banking and hedge fund management.

Is finance in demand in Australia?

Yes, finance is in demand in Australia, particularly for roles such as financial analyst, accountant and investment banker. However, the demand can vary depending on economic conditions and industry trends.

What careers can you do with a finance degree?

With a finance degree, you can pursue a variety of careers in finance including:

  • financial analyst,
  • investment banker, 
  • financial planner, 
  • accountant, and 
  • risk manager. 

Your career path will depend on your interests, skills, and career goals and what opportunities of interest arise throughout your career.

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