Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Career Profile

Written By Staff

Top executives, including chief financial officers, are employed as the highest level of management in a business or organization. The chief financial officer oversees and directs a business or organization's annual and long-term financial goals and budgets. He or she is held accountable for the accuracy, timeliness, and legal and regulatory compliance of all financial reporting. Chief financial officers develop and implement financial and accounting tools and systems aligned with the long-term business goals of a company or organization.


A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to become a chief executive officer, along with five or more years of previous financial management experience. Top executives are usually promoted from within a business or organization to an upper-level position after accruing a considerable amount of work experience. Many chief financial officers are CPAs and/or hold a master's of business administration (MBA).

Median Salary:

$99,000 - $142,000

Salary levels for chief financial officers are generally relatively high, but do vary depending on the size, type, and location of the business or organization for which they work. According to the Robert Half 2013 Salary Guide, the average salary range for corporate accounting CFOs for companies with annual sales of less than $50 million ranges from $99,000 to $142,000. Salaries for CFOs for companies with annual sales of over $500 million range from $280,500 to $430,250.

Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 9% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Chief financial officers (CFOs) play an integral role in maintaining the financial health of corporations and businesses according to the demands of the economy. Historically, as long as the economy has reflected change and fluctuation, financial managers typically find an array of steady job opportunities. According to the BLS, however, the next decade may mean more limited job growth for some CFOs, as the largest percentage of employees in this occupation work in finance and insurance, and these kinds of banking and savings institutions are expected to decline in employment during this time. In smaller numbers, CFOs also work in management of other companies and enterprises, as well as provide professional, scientific, and technical services. Although competition for jobs is generally high in this field, candidates with the highest-possible education, as well as certification and/or specialty skills, should stand out among potential employees.

Continuing Education:

Continuing education is a way for CFOs to stay on top of the latest developments and useful resources in finance and accounting, and improve their professional skills in this field. Most CFOs are required to hold current CPA certification, and are also required to satisfy a minimum of state-specific continuing education requirements. Organizations like the Georgia Center for Non-profits offer credit courses in specialty topics of interest to CFOs, including IRS issues, capital campaigns, and methods of financial management. Students hoping to secure a top CFO position in this highly competitive industry may find that a terminal degree along with above-average continuing education experience provide a distinct advantage over those with only minimal qualifications.