A career in finance can be lucrative. As a professional working in tech, there are many wonderful career options available to you if you are considering a career change. However, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to transition from your current career in tech. This article is about the actionable steps you can take to transition careers from tech to finance.
Step 1. Research and Validate You Want a Career In Finance.
If you’re considering a career change from tech to finance, then you need to clarify your personal goals and expectations. Why do you want to leave your tech career? Why finance?
Finance is not an easy field to transition into without any previous finance-related knowledge or experience. This means that choosing to make this transition is an important decision that needs to be evaluated carefully.
But before taking the plunge and following through on this massive decision, it’s important to really ask yourself if this is truly the career for you. What can you expect to earn in finance? What areas of work opportunities will be available to you?
Does Finance Pay More Than Tech?
This is a broad question and the answer to this is in no way straightforward.
Starting salaries in the two fields are nearly identical. Given that technology companies frequently offer stock-based compensation bonuses, it may actually edge out beginning position salary on Wall Street. However, individuals who stay on Wall Street often see significantly higher income growth as the chart below from payscale shows
According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for Software Engineers is more than the average base pay of an Investment Analyst. That said though, there is the possibility that over a long period of time, the investment analyst will out-earn the software engineer.
Compensation is always highly emphasized in the finance sector but when compared it seems that the tech sector pays more for entry-level positions.
One of the reasons tech companies offer more entry-level positions is because employment in tech companies may come with stock-based compensation, but then again its reported that wage growth is often much higher for people that continue working in finance and gain more years of experience.
According to salary analysis by Payscale, Software engineers and investment salaries usually start at similar levels but finance experts can expect to earn more over time as compensation normally grows in finance.
Then again, finance does not pay as much as it used to while tech companies are all the rage in today’s world meaning there is still a lot of room for growth. At the end of the day, if you’re focused on long term compensation then finance seems to be the way to go.
The trade-off in this situation is that generally, tech professionals enjoy a much better work-life balance. So at the end of the day, the question is which is more important to you?
Are There Different Areas of Finance?
When it comes to finance there are three major areas; Corporate finance, risk management, investments, and the financial market.
- Corporate Finance: Corporate finance broadly deals with the management and control of an organization’s money. In most large businesses. Finance decisions are made by managers or the board of directors alongside the finance committee. These decisions include cash and capital budgeting, financial statement development and analysis.
- Investments and the Financial Market: This area of finance deals with investments involving financial markets and institutions, for example banks. These investments may include stocks, bonds, commodities, or derivatives.
- Risk Management: This area deals with identifying, quantifying, analyzing, and mitigating risks that face companies, including their investments all in an effort to help the company make money.
Having different areas of finance to choose from, also means having different possible career options and job descriptions to choose from as well.
If you decide to specialize in risk management some positions would include risk officer, risk specialist, consultant, or analyst. In corporate finance, some positions are financial analyst, auditor, or accountant. Investments have positions like traders, mergers, and acquisition specialist.
Step 2. Find and Connect with Finance Professionals with a Tech Background.
Before taking any steps into the world of finance it’s important to network with finance professionals that share a similar background to yours.
The good news is that one thing finance professionals are well known for is the value they place on networking and building relationships.
The goal of networking with these professionals is to gain detailed insight into the challenges you are expected to face when making this career transition. Professionals with a similar background to yours have already experienced these challenges and will be able to outline them for you.
They can share insight on the best programs to enroll in, how to navigate coursework and earn qualifications, the can share their ideas, and can even alert you of any mistakes to avoid when preparing to make this transition.
A good rule of thumb before meeting with any professionals is to have already drafted a list of possible questions to ask them. You can try asking what they love about finance or even what they hate.
Working hours, work-life balance, and compensation are some other great questions to ask. Their insight will help you paint a clearer picture of how possible it is to change from a career in tech to finance and will also alert you of all the good and bad things to expect with this career change.
Finding finance professionals with backgrounds similar to yours may not seem easy, but a good place to start is on internet forums. Sites like Quora, Facebook and Reddit among others are filled with professionals that will be willing to answer any questions you may have.
In the event that you’d feel more comfortable discussing with people face to face, you can try using your network of teaching colleagues and friends to find and network with former tech professionals who successfully transitioned into the world of finance.
Step 3. Get Training And Finance Qualifications
The next step on your career transition journey to finance is building on the foundational knowledge that you’ll need to become a finance professional. This involves earning the basic degrees and qualifications that are required.
As someone transitioning from a previous career in tech, one of the most common ways to get a technical degree in finance is by pursuing a master’s of business administration (MBA) degree and working as a finance analyst.
You should also know that most MBA programs are structured to prepare students for a career in either corporate finance or financial services.
A lot of colleges around the world offer online MBA programs including the University of Florida and Penn State University. But the choice is yours, depending on whether you’d rather partake in an online program or would prefer an on-campus program.
Would you prefer an online masters or would be more comfortable attending on-campus classes? Think deeply about it. Keep in mind that finance is an industry that mainly recruits candidates from top schools, so the choice of the institution you make can greatly affect your career.
Additionally, something to keep in mind when searching for masters programs is the prerequisite requirements for entry needed by different programs. The good thing is that MBA programs normally require professional work experience, which you already have from working in tech.
Another way to earn qualifications toward a finance career is by earning qualifications from closely related fields, these include business, math, banking, economics, and accounting.
After completing an MBA, you may want to consider sitting for either the Chartered Financial Analyst exam (CFA), Chartered Alternative Investment Analysts Association exam (CAIA), Securities Industry Essential exam (SIE), or the Chartered Wealth Manager exam (CWM), once again depending on what area of finance you choose to work in.
The choice you will make will depend on what area of finance you hope to specialize in. This is why validating your career choice is important.
However, one of the best ways to earn your qualifications and certifications is by landing a finance graduate role in which employers offers the opportunity to have on-the-job training while earning your qualifications and degree on the side. These roles are however not so easy to get.
This is why networking with local professionals in the field is very handy; they will be able to better help you navigate through these certification and qualification processes easily. They may even introduce you to other professionals In their own network and help you land a job.
Step 4. Acquire Finance Experience
Alongside earning your qualifications and certifications, acquiring actual work experience in the field is a great way to prepare you for a career in finance.
Firstly, acquiring work experience is a prerequisite for gaining entry into an MBA program. Although this professional experience does not have to be strictly finance-related, having finance experience will show that you have knowledge about business.
Work experience can also prove useful when approaching professionals in the field. It will show that you are dedicated to this career change and can even help you grow your network some more.
Work experience will also help you gain some necessary soft skills you’ll need to excel in the profession. These include; strong quantitative skills, good communication skills, expert problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills, attention to detail, logic, and dedication.
Lastly, work experience in the field will let you stand out among other candidates when applying for jobs in the finance industry.
The best way to acquire work experience is by volunteering to shadow one or more finance professionals already working in the field and assist them with their daily tasks. This is another area where networking will prove very useful to you.
When networking with these professionals, do not be afraid of indicating that you wouldn’t mind shadowing them at their jobs. You would be surprised at the number of people that enjoy having opportunities to teach and mentor.
Decide on a setting you will be comfortable working in and ask your network if any of them are willing to have you. Remember that there are different areas of finance, so ideally you should try approaching a professional that works in an area or areas that interest you.
Another great thing is that your work experience will give you a more personal look into the day to day happenings of the field and may serve to harden your resolve.
Step 5. Update Your Professional Brand Assets
Changing your line of work from tech will require you to change and fine tune the way you present yourself professionally.
Your professional brand assets are your CV, your LinkedIn profile, and your personal website.
Polishing these assets will make you stand out and make you attractive to recruiters and more job opportunities for you.
- Your CV: Highlighting your skills and experience on your resume in a way that fits the requirements of a finance professional is important. Using a functional CV that lists your relevant skills will shift the focus to what you can offer the company and what they stand to benefit from having you fill that position.
Your CV is an effective way to show employers how you will be a great asset for the position you’re applying for.
- Your Linkedln Profile: Most recruiters and hiring managers use Linkedin to fill job positions. Actually, Over 90% of them do this! At the very minimum, make sure the information on your Linkedin profile matches what is on your CV. As someone moving into a new career it’s also important to let recruiters know that you’re open for hiring and looking for new opportunities.
Optimize the headline section of your profile by listing major skills that will be required in your new profession. Also optimize the summary section of your profile by highlighting your work experience, certifications, technical skills and expertise.
- Your Personal Websites: Your personal website gives you the opportunity to show your work rather than just talk about it. In today’s competitive employment market, job searchers must do all they can to differentiate themselves from the competition, and having a personal website is one of the most effective methods to do so.
A personal website establishes you as someone passionate about their work creates the perception that you’re a thought leader, and helps you build a personal brand
Bonus Tip: Take Action
Changing careers will always be a scary and daunting thing to follow through, but the good news is that it is very doable. You are not the first; many others have done it ahead of you. But you still have to do your own part to make this work for you.
Now that you’ve decided that a tech career is no longer for you and you’re interested in pursuing a finance-related career, it’s time to follow all the tips listed in this guide.
Be committed to making this career change an actual reality. Motivate yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people who are ready to support you.
After using this guide to draft out your action plan the only thing that’s left for you to do is to get up and start doing it.
Need to do more research into the world of finance? Start now, Need to decide the best program for you? Run it by your network and make a decision already. Connect with professionals in the field and start acquiring all the work experience you’ll need as soon as possible.
Be patient with yourself, but also give yourself a timeframe for achieving this dream of yours.
Changing careers can be a difficult thing to do, but with the right tools and attitude, you can make it happen! The six tips in this article are tested and proven when making the action plan that’ll you’ll need to make this career change a successful one for you.
Do some research into how a finance career best fits your experience, skills, personal needs, and wants. Network with professionals who have a similar teaching background as you, and build on your foundational knowledge by acquiring more work experience, skills, technical degrees, and qualifications you’ll need for your new role.
Update your professional brand assets to align with the requirements for finance professionals and market yourself as a perfect candidate for opportunities in your new career path.
Finally, take action and treat your career change as a job in itself. Make sure to invest your time, energy and any other resources you require into turning this dream of yours into a whole reality.
Finance is a great field to pursue a career in, equipping yourself with all the experience, skills, and qualifications that are needed to succeed will help you do things right and will make the transition much smoother for you.