Chief Financial OfficerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

The role of chief financial officer (CFO) comes with many responsibilities, with the most important typically being management of a company’s financial strategy, tactics, and overall health. Some of the ways they do this are by accomplishing tasks like brainstorming plans to increase company profit, discovering investment opportunities, managing mergers and acquisitions, helping the CEO develop financial plans, and managing account procedures. Of course, a CFO is an incredibly busy individual and a C-level position, so only the most qualified of candidates will be selected. If you are looking to make the move to a chief financial officer, you should have years of prior experience managing large accounts and directing finances for an organization.

Sample job description

To better our success, [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced chief financial officer. The CFO will have to leverage their experience, leadership, and communication skills in a diverse setting to influence the CEO, COO, and functional leads in our business model, brand portfolio, and innovation. Characteristics of a successful candidate will be one who thinks strategically and holistically and executes with excellence and speed. The CFO must bring a financial point of view to aid in strategic decision making, and build trust, value differences, and deliver results. Our CFO must have an eye for detail, be extremely organized, and be able to delegate tasks to team members effectively. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Work closely with Board of Directors and CEO to create financial plans
  • Direct the creation of all financial statements
  • Compare sales and profit projections and strategize a plan based on past quarters
  • Delegate tasks to team members
  • Create financial reports
  • Effectively execute a company’s financial strategy 
  • Develop company growth plan that also reduces expenditures
  • Manage mergers and acquisitions
  • Discover lucrative investment opportunities
  • Manage account procedures

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or related field
  • MBA or master’s degree in finance or accounting
  • 5+ years of experience as an executive-level employee

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Superb leadership skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Excellent decision-making skills
  • Ability to delegate and motivate team members
  • Above-average organization skills
  • Ability to work well with others

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s in finance, accounting, or a related field
  • 10 years of experience in a senior role
  • CPA designation
  • Extensive knowledge of financial and accounting computer applications

Average salary and compensation

The average base salary for a chief financial officer is $202,000 per year in the United States. While only base salaries are reflected here, commissions and bonuses may greatly increase total compensation. Additionally, salaries will vary based on experience, company size, industry, and geographic market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$200,100$268,000
Los Angeles, California$226,650$305,000
Denver, Colorado$188,850$250,200
Washington, DC$230,100$310,000
Miami, Florida$173,400$248,000
Orlando, Florida$173,400$230,000
Tampa, Florida$175,150$232,250
Atlanta, Georgia$183,700$242,500
Chicago, Illinois$211,200$278,700
Boston, Massachusetts$228,350$308,000
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$182,000$179,300
New York City, New York$240,300$325,000
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$195,750$260,800
Dallas, Texas$190,600$252,850
Houston, Texas$189,750$251,000
Seattle, Washington$219,800$295,300
National Average$171,700$228,000

Typical work environment

The typical work environment for a chief financial officer is a corporate office setting. It is a very fast-paced environment. They will spend a lot of time in board meetings and in meetings with the company CEO. CFOs are expected to spend the majority of their time in their office or conference rooms. They may also have to go to business lunches or dinners with clients.

Typical hours

Typical business hours for a chief financial officer are Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. However, with it being a C-level position, these hours are just estimates. Often, they’ll work much longer hours to meet their deadlines. It’s also common for CFOs to have to travel to other offices and meet with the finance departments there.

Available certifications

There is an extensive selection of certifications that can be helpful to chief financial officers. Here are just a few: 

  • CFO by AAIFM. The chief financial officer certification is sponsored by the American Association for Investment and Financial Management. They require candidates to have one of the following requirements: a B.S. degree in any field, a minimum of two years in a related finance field, or a minimum of 25 hours of financial management approved training.  This certification requires candidates to pass an oral or written exam. Recertification is required every four years.
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA). This certification requires a minimum of two years of education or training after high school and more than two years of work experience. Candidates must pass an exam. Certification renewal is required every 12 months. 
  • Chartered Certified Accountant (CCA). The CCA requires a minimum of two years of experience or training after receiving a high school diploma, along with two-plus years of work experience. Many individuals seeking this certification will have a bachelor’s degree. Recertification is required every 12 months. 
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The CFA requires a minimum of two years of work experience along with at least two years of education or training, like a bachelor’s degree. This is a one-time exam. Recertification is not required.
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP). This certification is perfect for a CFO as you’ll be managing many individuals and projects at once. The PgMP requires at least two years of education or training and a minimum of two years of work experience. Candidates are required to pass an oral or written exam. Recertification is required every three years. 
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP). The certification of CFP requires a minimum of two years of education or training after high school and at least two years of work experience. Candidates are required to pass an oral or written exam. Recertification is required every two years.

Career path

Entry-level finance-related careers in banking, accounting, investing, consulting, financial management or underwriting are all smart choices to start with when trying to move up the financial workforce ladder. Students who want to one day become a CFO should receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance or another related field. Becoming a chief financial officer takes years of experience, education, and additional certifications. The goal of becoming a chief financial officer is far from short-sighted, and you’ll need to work in finance starting directly after college.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-1011

2020 Employment292,500
Projected Employment in 2030275,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 6% Decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift16,800 Decrease

The position of a chief financial officer will always be around. Companies will need someone to manage their finances to make sure the company is profitable. However, there is an expected 6% decrease in the number of available chief financial officers by the year 2030. This could be because many executive-level positions are being combined, so the CEO or COO may also direct the finances. That being said, it is still a worthwhile career for candidates to consider. 

Sample interview questions

  • What do you consider a chief financial officer’s most difficult decision to make?
  • Tell me about some of your responsibilities at your last job. 
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why should we hire you for this position?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment throughout your career thus far?
  • How long have you worked in a financial leadership position?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • What experience do you have with directing investment activities?
  • Have you ever overseen an acquisition/merger within a company?
  • What strategies do you use to manage a company’s annual budget?
  • What was your most important contribution to your last employer?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a workplace disagreement? How did you resolve it?
  • Have you ever initiated an organizational change? How did you approach it?
  • What financial strategies do you use to solve business problems?
  • What resources will you need from us to effectively perform your job?
  • How do you measure ROI when making investments?
  • What risk mitigation strategies do you apply?
  • How would you determine the financial value of our company?
  • How has your previous experience prepared you for this role?
  • What is the reason for creating deferred tax liabilities during merger and acquisition deals?
  • What process do you use to determine if an investment would be profitable?

Are you interested in becoming a chief financial officer?

If you are interested in becoming a CFO, we are ready to connect you to one of our headhunters or recruiters to see if you are a perfect fit for one of our available job openings. If a job does not suit you, we will always keep you in mind as new positions open up. We have vast experience connecting executive professionals with some of the most well-known organizations in the country. Your next job or career path as a chief financial officer could be right around the corner. Take a look at our latest job openings and our blog for career advice.

Similar job titles and careers

  • CEO
  • COO
  • Finance Director
  • Financial Manager
  • Financial Advisor
  • Treasurer
  • Top Accounting Executive
  • Top Division Financial Executive
  • Chief Information Technology Officer

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