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How to Become a CFO

A CFO is the chief financial officer of a company and manager of the company's financial operations and accounting. CFOs are responsible for keeping an organization's finances compliant with government regulations and are one of the senior executives of a company. CFOs may also be responsible for some of the following duties:

  • Strategic financial planning of the company
  • Establishing financial goals
  • Managing a company's assets and debt
  • Arranging corporate budgets
  • Staying on top of financial trends
  • Reporting to a board of directors, stockholders and the chief executive officer

As is the case for all chief executives, there are not specific schools that prepare someone for the position of CFO. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chief executives and CFOs need extensive work experience, and many companies promote from within, although some may hire executives from outside of their company (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Many work their way up to supervisory positions from managerial ones.

While becoming a CFO can be lucrative, the work can also require long hours, business travel and vigorous demands.

The CFO career path: Helpful skills

CFOs, like other chief executives, may need a broad range of abilities in order to fulfill their job requirements. These can include the following:

  • Attention to detail
  • Leadership and communications skills
  • Problem solving and strategic thinking
  • Sales and negotiation experience
  • Skills in finance and accounting management

Education requirements of a CFO

Many top executives have a bachelor's degree in their field of focus and a master's degree in business management. CFOs may be required to have a bachelor's degree in accounting as well as a Master of Business Administration, or MBA (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). CFOs have varied backgrounds and can hold a degree in finance, accounting, or a related field. If the CFO is promoted from within the company, he or she may be able to substitute education with years of experience.

CFO salary

The income of a CFO may vary as much as the businesses that employ them. Compensation may include benefits such as stock options and performance bonuses, as well as the use of company-owned vehicles and memberships.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial managers earned a national median annual wage of up to $107,160 as of May 2011 (BLS.gov/oes, 2012). Financial managers are also expected to experience an employment opportunity growth of up to 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, nationally (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).

Sources:

"How to Become a Top Executive," BLS, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-4
"Occupational Employment Statistics," BLS, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113031.htm