To become a finance director, it usually is necessary to have a graduate degree in accounting or finance, along with experience in executive positions. Ten years or more of education and experience might be necessary to rise to this position, especially at a major company. As people develop careers in this field, it also is important to stay updated on legal trends and industry events. This can be important later, when finance directors will be responsible for legal compliance and other matters and need to know what is happening in their industry.
Personnel in this role are in charge of supervising financial operations at a firm. The term “finance director” is more common in locations such as the United Kingdom; in the United States, the term “chief financial officer” is preferred for someone in this position at a company. Finance directors work with other top executives to set company policy and work on expanding markets and financial viability. A person who wants to become a finance director needs money management skills, familiarity with executive environments and good people skills.
A student who would like to become a finance director can take extra math classes in high school and might want to consider accounting and finance classes if they are available. In college, the student should pursue an accounting or finance degree. Many colleges and universities offer such degree programs, although students might want to seek out schools that have a particularly good reputation. The reputation of an undergraduate institution can be important when applying to graduate school.
In graduate school, there are a number of options available for a student who plans to become a finance director. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be one choice, but students also can pursue advanced degrees in other areas of the business and financial world. While on track for a graduate degree, it also can be a good idea to seek out internships. Internships can be excellent opportunities for professional development and might provide networking contacts as well as practical experience.
Graduates can apply for executive positions to get experience under a finance director or other experienced executive. Companies might be reluctant to hire a new graduate to become a finance director, because they prefer applicants who have experience as well as skills. As people acquire job experience and become more comfortable at a company, they can apply for higher-ranking positions. With sufficient experience, it might also be possible to jump to a different company to take advantage of a better job offer.