A smiling professional who has advanced their career in finance.
A smiling professional who has advanced their career in finance.

Navigating your options: 9 finance careers for recent graduates


Do you have a passion for numbers, data analysis and financial management? Are you looking for a career that offers both challenges and rewards? With opportunities ranging from financial planning to risk management, the ever-evolving field of finance offers diverse career paths for those with the right skills and qualifications.

It’s important to understand the scope of the finance industry is not limited to traditional finance roles. With many other industries also relying on financial professionals, a career in finance could place you in a wide range of industries and businesses, with a number of roles to choose from. In this article, we’ll explore the various career pathways available within the realm of finance. We’ll delve into the key responsibilities, salary expectations and opportunities for further study, which can give you a competitive edge in this exciting and fast-paced field.

9 careers in finance to consider

Michelle Kwello is the Managing Director and CFO at Lantern Partners. As someone who did not follow a traditional path when it came to her financial career, she shares her thoughts on achieving career aspirations.

“As a term, ‘finance careers’ covers a multitude of roles and disciplines. I think there can be an assumption that there is just one kind of finance person, when, in fact, there’s a huge range of careers out there,” she says.

“Of course, what ties a lot of them together is that they’re numerically focused. But in terms of who you’re interacting with, who your clients are and the type of work you’re doing, it’s a really broad range.”

Are you a recent graduate with a degree in finance or a related field, wondering what career paths are available to you? Let’s take a look at nine different finance careers, their tasks and responsibilities and the salary expectations for each role.

Financial planner 

A financial planner is a professional who helps individuals and businesses create a comprehensive financial plan to achieve their financial goals. 

To be successful as a financial planner, you must possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and a deep understanding of financial products, markets and regulations. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Analysing financial data 
  • Identifying investment opportunities 
  • Providing financial advice 
  • Managing client portfolios 

In Australia, the average salary for a financial planner is between $105,000 and $125,000 per year. 

Reporting officer 

A reporting officer is a professional who is responsible for ensuring a company’s financial information is accurate, complete and compliant with relevant regulations. They work closely with other finance team members, including accountants and auditors, to collect and analyse financial data and prepare reports for internal and external stakeholders. 

Effective communication skills, attention to detail and a strong understanding of financial reporting standards and regulations are critical for success in this role. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Collecting and analysing financial data 
  • Creating financial reports 
  • Providing financial advice to management 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 

In Australia, the average salary for a reporting officer is between $85,000 and $100,000 per year. 

Risk manager 

A risk manager is responsible for identifying and managing potential risks that could affect an organisation’s financial stability. This role involves developing risk management strategies, conducting risk assessments and monitoring risk exposure. 

Technical skills include knowledge of risk management principles, financial analysis and regulatory compliance. Soft skills include communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Identifying and analysing potential risks 
  • Developing risk mitigation strategies 
  • Managing risk assessments 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 

In Australia, the average salary for a risk manager is between $135,000 and $155,000 per year. 

Compliance officer 

A compliance officer ensures an organisation complies with regulatory requirements and industry standards. 

This role involves developing compliance policies and procedures, conducting compliance audits and providing training and education to employees. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Developing compliance policies and procedures 
  • Conducting compliance audits 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 
  • Providing compliance training 

In Australia, the average salary for a compliance officer is between $70,000 and $90,000 per year. 

Head of finance 

The head of finance oversees an organisation’s financial operations and strategies. This role involves managing financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting and analysis, as well as developing financial strategies to support the organisation’s goals. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Developing financial strategies 
  • Managing budgets 
  • Analysing financial data 
  • Overseeing financial reporting 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 

In Australia, the average head of finance salary is between $160,000 and $200,000 per year. 

General manager 

A general manager is responsible for overseeing an organisation’s overall operations, including managing the financial processes for the business. 

Rather than focusing on one functional area of management—such as HR, procurement or administration—this role is a lot more hands-on. It involves overseeing all aspects of the business, developing and implementing business strategies, managing budgets and financial reporting, and leading cross-functional teams. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Managing staff 
  • Developing policies and procedures 
  • Managing budgets 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 
  • Implementing business strategies 
  • Leading cross-functional teams 
  • Financial reporting 

In Australia, a general manager salary is between $135,000 and $155,000 per year. 

Hospital administrator 

A hospital administrator oversees the daily operations of a hospital or healthcare facility. This role involves managing budgets, ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations and developing and implementing policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Developing budgets and financial plans 
  • Hiring and training staff 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 
  • Overseeing patient care 

In Australia, the average hospital administrator salary is between $65,000 and $100,000 per year. 

Office manager 

An office manager is responsible for the smooth running of an office. They oversee administrative staff, manage budgets, implement policies and procedures, and ensure compliance with regulations. 

An office manager is an essential role across almost every industry and by no means is restricted to a traditional financial office model. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Managing office finances 
  • Overseeing office maintenance and cleaning 
  • Ensuring office supplies are stocked 
  • Managing office staff 

In Australia, an office manager salary is between $75,000 and $85,000 per year. 

Practice manager 

A practice manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a medical practice. They oversee the administrative staff, manage finances, handle patient complaints and ensure their practices run efficiently. 

Key tasks and responsibilities include: 

  • Managing budgets 
  • Hiring and training staff 
  • Developing policies and procedures 
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations 
  • Maintaining a safe working environment 

In Australia, the average practice manager salary is between $70,000 and AU$80,000 per year. 

A word about salaries 

There are three factors that may significantly impact your salary in a finance-based role. 

1. Industry. The industry you work in can play a significant role in determining your salary. For example, a finance professional working in investment banking may earn significantly more than someone in a non-profit organisation

2. Location. Salaries may vary between states and positions in cities often pay higher salaries given they’re based in financial hubs. Local demand for work and cost of living also affect salaries. 

3. Skills, experience and credentials. Those with specialised skills, further education or more industry experience may command higher salaries. Supply and demand also play a role—if you possess skills that are in particular demand or that not many other candidates possess, you will attract a higher salary. 

It’s important to note that hard work, dedication and a commitment to ongoing learning and development play a crucial role in achieving success. However, Kwello shares some important advice about finding your passion before chasing a salary. 

“Being conscious of your career choices as you progress is important. Of course, salaries are important too, but I think you’ll be miserable if that’s your only driver. 

“First figure out what your ideal role is for job satisfaction. Think about the type of industry and the type of finance specialisation. These are the things you need to think about when you’re considering where to direct your training and education.” 

Skills and attributes for a career in finance 

Having a head for numbers is certainly important in a career in finance, but it’s not the only skill you’ll need to succeed. 

Kwello explains the importance of having a range of finance skills that include a broad range of hard and soft skills to be successful in your role. While a career in finance demands a certain level of hard skills—logical reasoning, critical analysis and an affinity for numbers—there are merits to possessing human-focused attributes. 

“Soft skills become critical to your success, particularly in more senior roles. It’s about the ability to have empathy and strong communication skills. The ability to build relationships, lead your team and have personal resilience in your career.” 

Important skills include: 

  • Strong analytical and numerical skills 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem-solving 
  • The ability to interpret complex financial data 
  • The ability to identify patterns and trends 
  • Attention to detail 
  • The ability to work as a team 

Ready for a career in finance? 

Working in finance can lead to numerous opportunities and career paths across various industries. With the constantly evolving nature of the financial landscape, continuing to learn and specialise is essential. 

If you’ve recently completed an Australian bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in a similar discipline, VU Online’s Graduate Certificate in Finance can provide you with the necessary tools to succeed and climb the career ladder. Created to prepare you for the next step in your career, this course will also lay the foundation for any further postgraduate studies. 

“Further study and technical training are vital for any career in finance,” says Kwello, “because there are always so many changes to compliance and legislation. In many cases, continuous professional development is required in order to even keep membership to your professional body because the standards are changing all the time.” 

For those seeking to enhance their financial expertise or become business leaders, you might also consider an MBA specialisation

The Master of Business Administration (Finance) program encompasses four fundamental facets of finance and financial management while offering a capstone project that substantiates your skills and expertise to prospective employers. You will also acquire a comprehensive understanding of various business aspects, preventing you from being restricted to a single career path. 

“The world changes so quickly,” says Kwello. “Careers change so quickly. The type of careers changes so quickly. It’s important to try and identify what lights you up and what will be personally satisfying for you in your career.” 

Careers in finance Australia 

“Educating yourself on the breadth of careers that are available to you within finance is really important,” says Kwello. “You may have been exposed to only one element of finance that may not have been for you, but that doesn’t mean a career in finance isn’t for you. Make space for exploration and adventure.” 

If your goal is to pursue a career in finance or enhance your existing one, developing your financial skills is essential. Through further study with VU Online, you can learn to hone your skills, open yourself to new opportunities and climb the finance career ladder.