Companies selling products and investing in overseas markets require specialized financial analysis and advice, such as how to limit the risks involved in these activities in order to sustain profits and growth. That’s where risk analysts come in. These finance professionals use their analytical skills, along with their knowledge of international business and currency markets, to help clients limit losses.

If the idea of calculating risks for foreign financial portfolios appeals to you, you may be a good fit for a career as a risk analyst. This risk analyst career guide is designed to help you learn more about the role of these professionals, along with the education and training required by employers, potential salary and where risk analysts typically find employment.

Employment opportunities for risk analysts are projected to expand in the coming years. According to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2012, employment for the category of finance professionals that includes risk analysts will grow by 16% through 2022 – much faster than the average of 11% for all occupations nationwide.

Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding employment opportunities and potential salary ranges, which can vary according to location, and a candidate’s education and experience.

What Is a Risk Analyst?

Risk analysts examine a firm’s investment portfolios, including overseas investments, and analyze the risk involved in associated decisions. They use their analytical skills to project potential losses, and make recommendations to limit risk through diversification, currency exchanges and other investment strategies.

Why Risk Analysts Matter

The global marketplace can be a volatile place in which to do business. Risk analysts help firms minimize the risk inherent in foreign markets in order to promote financial strength and sustainability for their clients and employers.

Risk analysts focus on identifying, researching and highlighting investment trends across platforms. They may be responsible for analyzing investment approaches, including asset allocation, hedge funds and fixed income. These professionals typically make recommendations on investment strategies and participate in investment reviews.

Additional job duties for risk analysts may include identifying and reporting on asset losses, tracking and reporting on investment trends, gathering and synthesizing data for analysis, and identifying business requirements to support coordinated team projects.

Where Can I Find Jobs as a Risk Analyst?

A wide variety of industries need the skills of risk analysts. These professionals may work for international publishing companies or software development firms. Others find employment with financial services firms. Risk analysts may also work with banks, insurance companies, mortgage firms and consulting organizations.

Competition for risk analyst positions will be keen, according to the BLS, so it’s important to obtain the qualifications and knowledge sought by employers.

Educational Qualifications for Risk Analysts

Becoming a risk analyst takes the right combination of education and skills. The qualifications required by employers will vary, although such positions will generally require a college degree at minimum.

  • Associate’s Degree: A two-year associate’s degree may qualify you for certain entry-level positions in the field. Advancement often requires a bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: Entry-level risk analyst positions may be obtainable with a four-year degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in finance, mathematics or economics. Courses in investments and risk management can be helpful. Professionals in this field may earn advanced degrees for greater career opportunities.
  • Master’s Degree: Some employers show preference to candidates with advanced degrees, such as an MBA with a specialization in International Business. An advanced degree typically takes an additional one to two years beyond the bachelor’s level.

Some employers may offer tuition assistance to help you obtain a master’s degree.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement

Risk analysts will typically require a strong educational background in finance, an understanding of investment risk systems and portfolio management, and essential business skills, such as communication and organization. In addition, employers seek candidates with solid analytical and mathematical abilities, as well as:

  • Knowledge of statistics and other analytical tools
  • The ability to present complex concepts to a wide audience
  • Problem-solving and project management skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • The ability to identify opportunities to improve performance and efficiencies in existing systems

Advancement in this field may be possible with additional work experience and/or an advanced degree.

Risk Analyst Potential Salary

The average annual salary for financial analysts, including risk analysts, was $91,620 as of May 2013, according to BLS statistics. The top 10% of earners nationwide had salaries that topped $152,000.

Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding potential salary ranges and employment opportunities, which can vary according to location, and a candidate’s education and experience.

Your Path to a Risk Analyst Career

If you’re interested in finance and investments, and would enjoy a profession where your skills can apply to a wide variety of employers and industries, then you could be a good fit for a risk analyst career. 

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