There is more than one path to becoming a chief financial officer at a company today, but for any medium to large size corporation, you will probably need a master’s degree in business administration. And while finance is a large part of the skill set needed to be a CFO, to be successful a CFO needs to have a strong knowledge of accounting as well as finance. Additionally, expert CFOs have a strong understanding of their company and of the particular industry the corporation competes in.
The Best Degree to Get to Become a CFO
Although there is more than one possibility for a degree that will lead to becoming a CFO, it is the study of accounting that will often bring the greatest rewards. The finances of any corporation will rest on the financial records of a company, and there is no one more suited to interpreting the numbers than an accountant. Other aspects of the job of a CFO can be garnered from several years of experience working for a company or a similar company in the same industry. Another important element to becoming a CFO by way of accounting is passing the certified public account examinations.
If accounting is the best degree to prepare a person for the job of CFO, then finance is a close second. Some would say it is more important in today’s world where getting money for the various short-term and long-term needs of a corporation can be complicated. As far as accounting goes, most people with a background in finance can read the financial statements produced by corporate accountants quite well.
The Advantage of a Master’s Degree
Regardless of which area of business you get a bachelor’s degree in, you will have a much better chance of becoming a CFO with a master’s degree in business administration. Having a degree in a specialty area of business will lay a strong foundation for a master’s degree, and an MBA will fill in the missing gaps of an undergraduate study of business. Although there are many companies that will have a CFO without an MBA, the competition will increase as the corporations become larger. Having an MBA can give you the edge you need in landing a CFO position.
The Need for Job Experience
To become a CFO, you will need to learn the particulars of your industry and those of the corporation for which you are working. All businesses have particular needs and unique challenges and, as such, operate in different ways depending upon the product being sold or service being offered. Often, the experience gained by working in a particular industry over time is invaluable when it comes to advancing up the corporate ladder to a CFO position.