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How to land a job in the finance industry

by Chloe Baird
Posted: June 09, 2021

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There are plenty of reasons to join the financial services sector in Australia.
For one, this is a huge industry with strong growth. There are more than 800,000 professionals employed in financial services roles. This equals about 6% of employment across Australia’s workforce. 
The financial services sectors also holds one of the top three positions for output sectors in Australia at 9%. This is just behind health and education and mining. 
There are also some really interesting technological trends that are emerging in financial services (such as the use of data science and artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the need for ever-increasing cybersecurity measures) which means there are opportunities for those with a specialised skillset.
Are you thinking of beginning a career in financial services and are wondering where to start?

Read on to discover how to get your first job in finance and what skills you need to succeed. 

job in finance

Where’s a good place to start in the finance industry?

The financial services industry in Australia is a key part of the economy. Every other industry in Australia relies on the finance industry in some capacity. 
In a similar way, every business relies on its finance department to ensure that the company is staying on course with its budget goals and that it continues to remain profitable. In most cases, a business relies on its finance department in order to make informed decisions. This is true for all businesses – whether they’re a global corporation or a small, local businesses that contracts a freelance Accountant to do the books.


Some of the best entry level jobs in finance include:


Payroll Clerk

Payroll Clerks have a unique position in that they sit within a company’s HR department but deal with a company’s finances. They process payroll transactions, collate data for payroll information, identify and resolve payroll discrepancies, maintain superannuation and other deduction and contribution records, and establish and implement financial reporting as needed. 
Starting out as a Junior Payroll Clerk could help you move into either an Accounting or an HR role. You don’t need formal qualification to start working as a Junior Payroll Clerk, however, like many corporate jobs, a VET qualification in a related area could help your resume stand out. 
As a Payroll Clerk, you can expect to earn a salary of $63,000 per year. 

Accounts Payable or Receivable Clerk

As an Accounts Payable Officer, you’re responsible for reviewing, processing, verifying and reconciling all payments made by your employer to third parties. An Accounts Receivable Office does the same thing, except that they verify that all payments made to the company from third parties are correct. 
You don’t need a formal qualification to work as an Accounts Payable/Receivable Clerk, but some knowledge of the industry could help you land your first junior position. Studying one of OC’s pathway programs, such as the Accounting Pathway Program, could help.
The yearly wage for an Accounts Payable/Receivable Officer is around $65,000.

Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers manage a company’s financial books. This may involve data entry, running reports, reconciliation, paying bills, and any other task that helps a business’s finance operations run smoothly. Some of their day-to-day responsibilities include Recording financial transactions and making sure the books are balanced properly, bank reconciliation and running financial reports. In some cases, their job may also cover the duties of a Payroll Clerk and Accounts Payable/Receivable Officer.
Bookkeepers who provide BAS services need to register with the Tax Practitioners Board – and to apply for BAS Agent registration, you must have completed a certificate IV such as the FNS40217 Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping

Bookkeepers in Australia can expect to earn around $60,000 per year.

jobs in finance

How can I get a job in finance with little to no experience?

The finance industry is huge, with opportunities out there for entry-level roles. Getting an entry level job where you can build up your knowledge, skills and expertise is a great place to begin if you’re looking to make finance your career. 
That said, landing any type of job with no experience can be tough. But this is where a VET qualification could help you. 
You might be surprised to learn that many jobs in finance don’t actually require a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, no formal qualification is required – however, having a certificate IV or a diploma under your belt could help your chances of success. 
Now’s the time to get cracking on building a resume to impress potential employers. 

Potential careers in the finance sector

One of the best things about working in finance is that there is a wide variety of jobs out there beyond Accountants and Bookkeepers.
Some of the potential career outcomes you could work towards include: 
•    Financial Analyst
•    Financial Advisor
•    Budget Analyst
•    Actuary
•    Investment Banking Analyst
•    Tax Accountant
•    Auditor
•    Forensic Accountant
•    Asset Manager.

How do I know if a job in finance is right for me?

Here’s the thing – you don’t actually need to be a maths genius to be able to launch your career in finance. But there are a few other skills employers will be on the lookout for when you start applying for finance jobs.
Here are 5 skills you need to succeed in the finance industry:


1. Communication skills

Anyone working in finance will tell you that the stereotypes are way off. If you start a job working in the finance sector, you’re unlikely to be spending your entire day sitting in front of a computer and crunching numbers. A big part of your job is interacting with others, whether you’re working alongside other members of the accounting and finance team, presenting financial reports, or explaining your latest ideas on how to save the company money. Having excellent communication skills is vital if you work in a customer-facing role, such as a Tax Accountant.


2. Tech skills

As technology continues to evolve, so to does the finance industry continue to innovate. This means that if you’re considering joining the finance industry then you need to be prepared to continue learning throughout your entire career. If you don’t invest in expanding your skillset and keeping up with the latest technological advancements, then you’re at risk at falling behind. When you’re first getting started in the industry, it will help if you’re familiar with programs like Excel and other industry-related software such as Xero, QuickBooks or MYOB. 
Higher level jobs may require you to familiarise yourself with business intelligence software, enterprise resource planning software and data management.

job in finance industry

3. Keen eye for detail

Attention to detail is very important when you work in finance, as you need to be able to spot errors and then be able to trace them back to the source to see where things went wrong. 
While you don’t have to be a mathematician to work in finance, a love of numbers and an eye for detail will certainly help you succeed. These days, your ability to utilise relevant software is more important than the fact you can do long division in your head. But you’ll still need the right kind of maths skills in order to be able to look over a report and notice if something is wrong or not. 

4. Problem-solving skills
As we mentioned above, a keen eye for detail will enable you to spot errors and miscalculations. But how do you go about fixing these errors or tracing the mistake back to its source? This is where your problem-solving skills will come into play. 


5. Analytical thinking 

Analytical skills refer to your ability to collect and analyse information and use it to solve problems and find solutions. Analytical thinking involves finding relevant patterns and interpreting data, and using this data to make informed decisions. Working with facts, data and numbers, you can see how analytical skills would be necessary.  

Where can I study a finance course online?

If you’re thinking of launching your career in finance, one of the best places to start is with a qualification or certification. 
OC offer a number of online accounting and finance courses, both nationally recognised qualifications and non-accredited courses. Studying an online course could be the first step towards a rewarding career in this lucrative industry. 
Depending on your career goals, there are many different paths you could take in finance. For one, if you study accounting you might be surprised at the career opportunities that open up for you later, as accounting can act as a great foundation for many other jobs. 
But if you decide to stick to finance, you could work your way up to Finance Director or Chief Financial Officer with the right kind of training and determination. 
Now’s the time to act. Enrol in an online accounting course with OC and see where you career could take you.
 

 

Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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