The demand for finance skills is expected to grow 16 percent by 2028—much faster than the national average—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consider this a sign that it’s time to develop finance skills to jumpstart your career.

Finance is a common denominator that impacts all industries. Even if you don’t work in the field of finance, learning about it can take you from simply performing your job duties to understanding the bigger picture impact your actions have on your organization’s financial health. Additionally, being able to speak confidently about finance can give you a voice in higher-level discussions, and allow you to advocate on behalf of your department and team when financial decisions are made.

"One of the main reasons to learn accounting fundamentals for people who aren't in finance and accounting is that performance evaluation often depends on it," says Harvard Business School Professor V.G. Narayanan, who teaches the online course Financial Accounting.

Watch the video below featuring Professor Narayanan to learn more about the benefits of finance and accounting for non-finance professionals:

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Whether you’re a first-time job-seeker or a seasoned vet in your industry, everyone can benefit from understanding the principles of finance. By complementing your industry-specific skill set with basic finance skills, you can become a more well-rounded candidate or business leader. Here are five fields in which you can jumpstart your career by learning about finance.


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5 Industries Where You Can Benefit from Learning About Finance

1. Engineering

Engineering is a largely project-based field, in which attention to detail is highly valued. Imagine an aspiring engineer who has a strong understanding of the costs and benefits of each piece of a project, in addition to the engineering skills to execute efficiently and cost-effectively. That person is a stronger job applicant than someone who lacks the financial understanding to back their engineering know-how.

For the engineer looking to advance their career, finance can help provide that boost.

“I'm currently leading the operational functions of a system-wide IT implementation, a project that affects the daily work of a few thousand employees,” says Operations Strategist Kali Pfaff, who took the online Financial Accounting course. “Knowing how to read financial statements or look at data sets and understand them has helped me make major decisions on future state reporting.”

Related: 7 Business Skills Every Engineer Needs

2. Marketing

Understanding finance as a marketer can allow for a clear vision of how your day-to-day efforts impact the business monetarily.

Whether you’re calculating the return on investment from a specific banner ad, projecting the future traffic flow to your company’s site based on previous data, or tracking the number of new customers driven by your latest blog post, you’re using financial skills and concepts to elevate yourself as a marketer.

Having an understanding of how your efforts impact the organization’s bottom line can be motivating, and allow you to advocate for the budget your team needs to drive the desired results.

Related: 6 Basic Finance Skills All Managers Should Have

3. Sales

If you work in sales or business development, a basic understanding of finance is crucial. As a member of a sales team, skills such as reading a financial statement and understanding financial terminology can help you see the rationale behind your company’s and team’s goals.

If you’re trying to break into the sales field, coming to an interview with knowledge of financial principles can set you apart. If you’re looking to move up in your sales division, leveraging a financial mindset can help you advance by providing a bigger-picture perspective, along with the earnest understanding of how important each sale is to the company’s broader financial health.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Study Finance

4. Human Resources

While it may seem like human resources and finance have different goals and underlying principles, they are, in fact, inextricably intertwined. Without human resources, there would be no high-quality employees to keep the company running and, without finance, there would be no way of knowing if the company has the resources available to hire and train them.

As someone who works in HR or People and Culture Management, being familiar with finance can allow you to have cross-departmental conversations and advocate for your team on the budget you need to hire or train employees. Demonstrating an understanding of, and appreciation for, finance could make you an ideal candidate for an HR role, or can elevate the choices you make and interactions you have within your current organization.

5. Healthcare

Similar to HR, understanding finance as a healthcare professional can allow you to better meet the needs of the people you are supporting.

“As a medical professional without any formal business education, I’ve previously relied on my professional advisors’ interpretation of data,” says T. Gerald O’Daniel, founder at Louisville Surgery Center, who took the online Leading with Finance course. “With my newly acquired knowledge, I have a deeper understanding of the profit and loss, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. I’ve refined my decision-making process related to capital expenditure for new technology by applying multi-year discounting and looking for the net present value of these acquisitions.”

Related: Why Healthcare Professionals Need Business Skills

Consider developing a familiarity with the financial principles that underlie the healthcare work you do to gain perspective on what emerging technologies can be purchased or new research can be funded and, ultimately, how your organization can better support your patients and customers.

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Invest in Your Growth

No matter the industry, learning about finance can have a far-reaching impact on your career. This includes being able to make better-informed decisions, speaking up for yourself and your team when budgets are being negotiated, feeling driven by the impact that your efforts make on your company, and even landing that job or promotion. Take the leap now to invest in your professional growth: learn about finance.

Are you looking to develop or hone your finance skills? Explore our online finance and accounting courses to develop your toolkit for making and understanding financial decisions.

Catherine Cote

About the Author

Catherine Cote is a marketing coordinator at Harvard Business School Online. Prior to joining HBS Online, she worked at an early-stage SaaS startup where she found her passion for writing content, and at a digital consulting agency, where she specialized in SEO. Catherine holds a B.A. from Holy Cross, where she studied psychology, education, and Mandarin Chinese. When not at work, you can find her hiking, performing or watching theatre, or hunting for the best burger in Boston.