Ranking Finance Careers by Level of Difficulty

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Finance is one of the largest and most important industries in the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.5% of employed Americans are employed in the sector. That number is expected to increase over the next 10 years.

Potential applicants who are interested in finance careers may be curious to know which jobs are the most difficult and which ones are easiest. Although the answer is relatively subjective and on an individual level can depend on a variety of factors like skill sets and company culture, here are five popular finance careers ranked by difficulty, based on a variety of surveys conducted over the years.


As far as finance goes, bookkeeping is one of the easiest careers for several reasons. First, it is one of the few positions in the industry that can be done 100% remotely. Second, it doesn't involve the risk of losing client or investor funds, unlike many other occupations in the financial sector.

However, perhaps the biggest reason it comes in at number one is that it has the lowest barrier to entry. It's one of the few career choices that doesn't require a Bachelor's Degree or higher. There are many free online resources to help prospective entrepreneurs learn how to start a bookkeeping business, which can be quite lucrative. Lately, we’re also seeing a rising need for experts who are specialized for a certain segment of ecommerce, such as Shopify bookkeeping, for example.


As with most industries, a big part of finance involves sales of various kinds. Whether it's selling products and services to clients or other firms, a salesperson's job is vital to the success of their employer. It also has a lower barrier to entry than other jobs in the industry because it doesn't require a degree in finance and a good salesperson only needs to understand their product instead of the market as a whole.

It's towards the top of this list because although sales itself can be very stressful unless you have a natural ability and several other factors working in your favor, there's significantly less risk to a client's portfolio than with other jobs in the industry. Still, the inherent stress of sales and the constant need to obtain results can make the job a difficult one.

Risk Management and Compliance

Risk Management and Compliance are in the middle of our list because the work is not very difficult in and of itself but it is still ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in the industry. The major reason for this is that the job involves telling colleagues what they can and cannot do, which tends to make a person a bit unpopular in the office.

With the rise of banking and trading scandals over the past few years, as well as the risk of regulatory capture, compliance officers must also be extremely good at their jobs to prevent such incidents from occurring. They also run the risk of being scapegoated if malfeasance does occur, even if it would have been nearly impossible for them to be aware while it was happening.

Investment Banker

An investment banker is in charge of raising capital, investing, and arranging mergers and acquisitions for clients, which is a very difficult job for many reasons. First, the job requires a lot of hard work, which can often bleed into evenings and weekends, and is considered one of the most stressful in the industry.

Second, the job requires direct interaction with clients and doing everything possible to fulfill their wishes, even if it seems impossible. This often leaves an investment banker with the responsibility of balancing client requests with their employer's business needs and restrictions, which results in an extremely high-stress environment.

Quantitative Analyst

The most difficult entry on our list is quantitative analyst, also known as a quant, which is a position that involves analyzing market trends and making determinations based on that analysis, such as whether the market is trending upward or downward in the near future. It also requires the use of computer programs to create models based on analytical data.

Becoming a quantitative analyst is no easy feat, either, as it requires knowledge of advanced mathematics, computer programming, and more. Some companies may also require a Bachelor's Degree, although many companies do not. However, it is one of the most important jobs in the industry as nearly everyone else in the company will be dependent on the information that quantitative analysts provide.

Final Thoughts

Finance can be a very lucrative and rewarding career and there are many job opportunities available currently with even more expected in the next few years. Although the exact level of difficulty for a given position will change depending on the person, the rankings above are based on surveys of industry members, stress levels, and the difficulty of the work itself.

No matter which position within the industry you choose, you'll have a good chance of success if you stick with it and stay determined. According to Zippia, the turnover rate for finance employees is below 30% annually, putting it significantly lower than many other industries. Good luck with your new career!