Princeton professor of philosophy Arthur Szathmary once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” While there is much truth in the statement, Szathmary, who worked at Princeton from the 1940s to the 1980s, had no framework for modern work enabled by mobile devices, cloud computing, and personal laptops, where working anywhere, anytime is the reality of many jobs. He may have been alarmed at the cost of housing in Princeton, N.J. today (the median price of a home there is more than $800,000) and the cost of a Brooks Brothers men’s suit ($1,298 for the Classic Fit Wool Sharkskin). A smart man, if Szathmary were alive today, he may have expanded on his statement to say, “Choose a job with a flexible work schedule at the upper end of the salary range, with plenty of room for advancement, and you will never work a day in your life.” Szathmary may even have directed his students to study accounting and finance, based on new data from U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 Best Jobs Survey.
Every year U.S. News and World Report analyzes a diverse array of jobs with the largest number and percentage of projected openings from 2021 to 2031, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs are ranked based on their overall score, which combines multiple components into a single weighted average score between 0 and 10. The overall metrics U.S. News used to calculate this year’s Best Jobs rankings are:
- Future prospects (30%)
- Wage potential (25%)
- Employment (20%)
- Job safety and stability (15%)
- Work/life balance (10%)
Guess what job earned an overall score of 7.2 out of 10, earning it the titles of No. 1 Best Job in Business, No. 2 in 100 Best Jobs, and No. 12 in Best Paying Jobs? If you guessed, “Financial Managers,” you are right. With a median salary of over $139,000, plenty of opportunities for advancement, average stress levels, and above average work/life balance due to flexible working arrangements, financial managers are some of the most satisfied workers in the U.S.
So how does one become a financial manager? The ranking also includes advice from real financial managers on how to get your foot in the door. Working in an entry-level role at a large organization or bank, and progressively taking on more responsibility is a proven path. But practicing financial managers also stress the importance of baseline accounting and finance skills.
If you wake up in the morning and rush to read Barron’s or The Wall Street Journal, you may be a good fit for this role. Though the stereotype of a financial manager is someone who loves numbers, you also have to love people; financial managers usually manage teams of people. The pros working in the field put in more than 40 hours a week, but that is standard for most business roles. Being sharp on your feet, with advanced analytical and critical thinking skills, also are attributes well-suited for the job. Another promising fact about this job is the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16.0% employment growth for financial managers between 2022 and 2032. In that period, an estimated 126,600 jobs will open in the profession.
In Szathmary’s time, data like the kind included in the U.S. News ranking was not widely available, making choosing a satisfying career challenging. But today, we have copious amounts of details about the day-to-day experiences of workers in all different kinds of professions. At IMA, we have always known accounting and finance roles are some of the most rewarding ones, so we encourage you to explore the U.S. News rankings and consider roles like Financial Manager for the significant benefits they offer, and you too may never have “to work” a day in your life.