How to Become a

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The complete career guide to be a Chief Financial Officer (CFO): salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $134,330
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • High Income Potential
    Career Attribute

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) takes care of the fiscal aspects of a business or an organization to preserve financial assets. As a CFO, your primary role is to oversee various departments such as human resources, accounting, and treasury and investor relations.

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What is a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)?


The job responsibilities of a CFO include the following aspects:

  • Develop and maintain strong working relationships with the board and senior management and regularly present up-to-date financial data to the audit committee.
  • Support the creation and implementation of compliance training programs for knowledge sharing, based on the assigned division and in accordance with Corporate Compliance.
  • Collaborate with fundraising or development to evaluate the utilisation of funds and develop a customized planned giving initiative.
  • Be proactive in establishing an integrated management reporting structure that gives key insights on different aspects of the business and potential opportunities, in the form of financial statements and variance reports.
  • Monitor the credibility of the organization’s accounting and finance teams via a timely reporting protocol and accurate assessment of performance regarding budget forecasts.

Day In The Life

As the CFO of an organization, your role involves functioning as a senior manager and leader, for staff and other stakeholders. You will spend time observing the progress of the business and its annual budget for financial improvement opportunities. The CFO is held accountable for maintaining regulatory compliance requirements and tracking internal controls as they pertain to internal, external and regulatory financial reporting. In tandem with efforts by senior management, you will contribute to optimizing the structure and strategic direction of your organization, to promote long-term financial health.

With employees, you will communicate job expectations clearly and ensure their performance is consistent over time via job appraisals, updating productivity standards and sharing opportunities for personal development. The accounting and billing departments at a company also fall under your purview since you are in charge of coordinating monthly financial statements and other documentation through the year, to be shared with the Board of Directors and other senior leadership, e.g. the CEO, President and Chief Operating Officer. Occasionally, in the absence of an in-house media relations team, you are expected to represent the organization not only to various media, but also government and funding agencies along with the general public.

Work Schedule And Typical Hours

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a key executive in any organization and a member of the upper management. This position is probably the third most important member of the executive management team of any company after the CEO and the chairman. CFOs are responsible for critical time sensitive tasks in business as financial planning, risk management, record-keeping and financial reporting. Accordingly, the work of CFOs can get really stressful as obvious by the fact that CFOs of large companies work 80 hours per week on average. Some CFOs of small companies may still work the regular schedule of 40 hours per week only while of course gaining lower compensations. Moreover, CFOs need to be flexible regarding their workplace as they commonly have to travel or attend external meetings with partner companies.

Projected Job Growth

The employment of CFO is directly related to the state of the economy and is expected to increase by about 15 % from 2019 to 2029 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is one of the highest growth rates expected for a job which can be attributed to the increased rate of cash flow, globalization, different opportunities of investment available in recent years as well as the technological advances. However, this growth may be significantly affected by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that significantly affected the growth of the economy. The growth in the demand for CFOs does not indicate that being hired as a CFO is easy to achieve but it is rather extremely competitive and requires solid knowledge, experience and skills.

Typical Employers

You cannot normally graduate and get hired directly as a CFO except if you work for a small startup company. Normally, working as a CFO requires years of experience and once they are prepared, they have a wide range of employers that includes private corporations and public authorities. Governments hire CFOs to manage different taxation issues, set the financial policy and manage the government funds. Important skills here would be proper understanding and adhering to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) established by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory entities as well as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to protect the company from charges of fraud.

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How To Become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

To build a promising career as CFO, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field like accounting, business, finance, or economics in order to be considered for entry-level positions. Many employers prefer a CPA, CMA, or CFA designation. Interested candidates might advance more quickly with a masters’ degree in business administration, public administration or accounting. Being a continuous learner is helpful in this industry, and further education can be done via non-degree programs on accounting best practices, market trends, peer networks, etc.

A proven track record from previous work experiences in creating operational budgets and providing recommendations to senior staff at an organization regarding fiscal policies and financial management, will distinguish you from other potential candidates in the market. Since you will have to enforce compliance with accepted principles regarding accounting, state and federal government protocols, and funding requirements, this is an ideal career if you have a deep understanding of corporate financial law and best practices related to risk management. Advanced skill in data analysis and forecasting is also helpful, along with superior proficiency in MS Office and financial management systems (FMS) like SAP. You should have a penchant for analyzing complex financial information and reports in a fast-paced and international environment.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Chief Financial Officer (CFO) salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)'s can make an average annual salary of $134,330, or $65 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $84,600 or $41 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #24 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Chief Financial Officer (CFO)s

  • 2.5%   Doctorate
  • 18.8%   Masters
  • 40.8%   Bachelors
  • 7.1%   Associates
  • 19%   College
  • 10.7%   High School
  • 1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Chief Financial Officer (CFO) job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 37,600 jobs for a total of 593,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #330 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Chief Financial Officer (CFO)s

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Depository credit intermediation 80,100 5,100 5%
Management of companies and enterprises 64,700 3,200 3%
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services 24,700 1,300 1%

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