Financial analysts provide investment guidance to businesses and individuals. They analyze stocks, bonds and other types of investments to gauge which are performing well and which aren't, and make recommendations based on their research and evaluations. Typical duties include researching economic and business trends, studying a company's financial statements, and analyzing commodity prices, tax rates and regulatory trends. Because the job requires so much research and expertise, the pay is good. Salaries for financial analysts who are just starting out are typically in the lower range of the profession, however.
On average, financial analysts earned close to $88,000 a year as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This salary, however, accounts for all financial analysts, regardless of experience. The lowest 10 percent earned $46,300 a year or less, which is probably closer to the range for starting salaries. Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a financial recruitment agency, reports an analyst’s starting salary is closer to $38,000 to $46,000 per year at a small company with annual sales of fewer than $25 million.
The size of the company also influences starting salaries for financial analysts. The larger the company, the more money analysts tend to make. For midsize companies with sales between $25 million and $250 million, an analyst with up to one year of experience earns $41,000 to $50,000 per year. Those at companies with annual sales over $250 million make $43,000 to $54,000 annually.
Besides company size, education can improve a young financial analyst's earning potential. Analysts with a master’s degree or professional certification earn five to 10 percent more than their bachelor-degreed counterparts, according to the Robert Half survey. At small companies, an analyst with advanced education or certification makes $40,000 to $51,000 starting out vs. the average starting salary of $38,000 to $46,000. Those with advanced credentials at midsize companies earn $43,000 to $55,000 per year vs. the average of $41,000 to $50,000 per year. With up to one year of experience and a master’s degree, an analyst makes $45,000 to $59,000 at large companies vs. the average of $43,000 to $54,000 annually
A company's location also affects starting salaries for financial analysts. Those working in Stamford, Connecticut, for example, earn 31 percent more than average, according to the Robert Half data. At a small company in Stamford, a financial analyst with up to one year of experience can expect to earn $50,000 to $60,000 per year, even without a master’s degree. In Chicago, starting salaries are almost 22 percent higher than average. On the other end of the spectrum, financial analysts in Lincoln, Nebraska, earn close to 22 percent less than the average.