How Do You Become a Chief Financial Officer?

Chief Financial OfficerTo become a Chief Financial Officer, you will need a broad range of skills and several years of experience. If your goal is to become part of the C-suite and hold the executive title of CFO, you need to learn how to climb up the ladder as quickly as possible. Many finance professionals have the dream of becoming the leader of all finance operations and do not know how to turn that dream into a reality. Instead of taking the direct path, they try to gain experience and apply for promotions with no avail. If you want to learn the best way to go from a finance professional to a CFO board member, follow this step-by-step process.

Get a Finance Degree

The very first step to take to work in the competitive field of finance is getting your degree. You can start your career path by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program majoring in finance, accounting, or even economics. Taking this type of program will help you build a foundation of knowledge that you need to land a position where you can get corporate finance experience at an entry-level or even at a mid-career level. You also need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree before you will be consider for certain finance professional certifications.

Get Broad Financial and Customer Service Experience

You might know that it is crucial to gain experience in the field of finance, but what you might not know is how important it is to get the right types of experience. When you want to be the head of finance of a corporation, having corporate experience is key. You need to look for openings within a corporate environment that will help you grasp different fundamentals in analysis, compliance, risk, budgeting and accounting.

It is also important to gain an understanding of business and operations in your role. This is why climbing up to supervising and and managing is important. Do not overlook how important it is to get comfortable with customer service and will communications, because this is what will get you attention from the CEO and from other managers.

Earn Your Graduate Degree

The next step in the process that can be taken parallel to getting corporate and finance experience is to advance your education. You will need to decide if you would like an advanced terminal degree or if you would like a professional graduate degree. If you feel like developing your accounting and finance knowledge specifically, a master’s is more appropriate. An MBA is more about developing you as a leader, communicator and well-developed business professional.

Earn a Professional Finance Certification

Credentials can help you expand your role by showing how committed you are to the field. One great credential to consider is becoming a Certified Public Accountant. The statistics show that about 45% of CFO’s at Fortune 500 companies have the CPA designation and this number is up from 29% over a period of just 5 years, according to Going Concern. You will need to have your master’s to qualify for the exam, but once you hold your certification you will get a lot more attention.

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CFOs lead the entire financial operations of a corporation and must be professional and experienced. If you want to have your own C-suite, you need a broad range of skills and the ability to show you are a strategic thinker. You also need to show you are a team builder and that you want it when you are networking. If you do this, can become a Chief Financial Officer that corporations want.