How Do I Become a Chief Financial Officer?

To be considered for the position of chief financial officer (CFO), you must have extensive managerial experience as well as extensive accounting and finance knowledge. A college education in accounting or business is often required to become a chief financial officer. After that, you’ll most likely need to work in the corporate world, preferably in a large company’s financial or business planning department. To help you get on that career track, supplementing your education with managerial training can be beneficial. To rise through the corporate ranks and reach the position of chief financial officer, you will need to stand out from your peers, and you may need to change organizations.

In many large corporations, chief financial officers are one of the c-suite executives. The CFO can be called on to shape the company’s financial dealings in the same way that other c-suite positions are responsible for managing one aspect of the company. To be successful at this job, you’ll need a lot of financial knowledge, business acumen, and managerial experience. As a chief financial officer, you’ll be in charge of setting financial policy, making important business decisions, and managing the people who work for you.

Getting a good education is usually one of the first steps toward becoming a chief financial officer. Your specific degree will depend on the career path you want to pursue, but accounting is a popular option. Being a certified public accountant can also be beneficial (CPA). Many chief financial officers also pursue a master of business administration (MBA) or other advanced degree at graduate school, though you can often do so after you’ve already advanced through the corporate ranks.

After graduation, you’ll most likely want to work for a larger company with plenty of opportunities for advancement. This may not be the company where you will eventually become a chief financial officer, but it will be where you will begin to advance in your career and move into a management position. Typically, you’ll start in the financial or business planning department, but if you work hard and stand out, you’ll be promoted to management.

You may be able to advance in the corporate ranks as you gain promotions and managerial experience, or another company may offer you an opportunity. Corporations occasionally promote chief financial officers from within, but in many cases, changing organizations is the only way to get there. You may develop some loyalty to the company, but if you want to be a chief financial officer, you must be willing to accept any good opportunity that comes your way.