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Finance Takes Top Spot from Education in CFA Institute Global Graduates’ Career Survey

Global study of over 10,000 graduates finds a good salary is what 62% seek in a career, up from 45% in 2021 study

New York City, United States 14 Jun 2023

The 2023 global Graduate Outlook Survey released today by CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, found that a quarter of the 10,000 respondents consider finance to offer the best career prospects, a nine percentage point increase. Since the previous CFA Institute survey in 2021 finance has risen from fifth place, replacing education, which had previously ranked as the number one industry.

More than three in five (62%) rated a good salary as what they look for most in an employer, compared to less than half (45%) in the 2021 Global Graduate Outlook Survey, a 17% increase. Meanwhile more than a quarter (28%) view the prospect of low pay as their biggest concern regarding their career prospects, reflective of inflation’s impact in many countries across the world.

These salary preoccupations are not denting graduates’ confidence in their pursuit of a successful career. Three quarters (75%) say they are confident in their future career prospects, a significant increase from 2021 (58%), when the Covid-19 pandemic clearly impacted career thinking.

The global Graduate Outlook Survey uncovered the extent to which graduates have had to rethink their careers following the pandemic. Nearly half (47%) of graduates report having had to reassess their career paths or desired sectors since the pandemic’s onset, while 43 percent say Covid-19 negatively impacted their long-term career prospects and more than half (56%) say they will prolong their time in education while the job market remains volatile.

“Despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic, students and recent graduates across the world feel positive about their career prospects, most notably in finance, which now enjoys the confidence of more graduates than any other profession,” said Margaret Franklin, CFA, President and CEO, CFA Institute. “This generation of graduates displays demonstrable interest in developing the skills needed for career advancement. Seventy-two percent say post-graduate certifications and qualifications will help them secure higher earnings and give them an edge in the job market. Businesses that are investing in learning and development and partnering with certification and educational institutions will be seen as responsive to the needs of a next generation of talent hungry to further their knowledge and careers.”

There remains robust confidence in the importance of higher education qualifications amongst graduates. Roughly three-quarters say pursuing a degree was worth it (77%) and that their career prospects have improved by undertaking a degree (73%). More than nine in 10 (93%) said upskilling or acquiring certifications are important to the job market, with 69% reporting that certifications will have a big impact on their job opportunities.

Graduates convinced by importance of qualifications and determined to use career to “give back”.

“Confidence in the potential of an educational degree and certifications shows that graduates have high expectations for career-ready and professional skills coming out of university,” said Franklin.

“The research shows a desire for graduates to prolong their time in education, through certifications and trainings, with a clear acceptance that this is a powerful way to continue to grow professionally and advance their careers.”

In addition to wanting to upskill graduates possess a determination to make a positive societal and environmental contribution through their career. More than nine in 10 (91%) say it is important that their career allows them to make an impact, up from 87% in 2021.

Healthcare and medicine now less attractive than finance

The research also uncovered that graduates are now favoring a career in finance at the expense of other industries with healthcare and medicine decreasing in confidence amongst graduates. In 2021, they were ranked as the second and third career choices in the midst of the pandemic, however this year, they dropped to sixth and seventh respectively, behind education, sales & marketing, IT, and STEM. Humanities (13%) and arts (8%) were perceived as being the university subjects of least value when finding a career – down since 2021 from 17% and 14% respectively.


Notes to Editors:

The global Graduate Outlook Survey was conducted as an online survey, fielded by Dynata from April 12-24, 2023 among a sample of 9,437 respondents studying for a bachelor’s degree or higher, or who have graduated with a bachelor’s or higher within the last three years, aged 18-25. Respondents were from the UK, US, Canada, India, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, UAE, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, and Mexico. The full results of the 2023 Global Graduate Outlook Survey can be viewed here. The full results for the 2021 Global Graduate Outlook Survey can be found here.  For further information, please contact [email protected].

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 190,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in more than 160 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and 160 local societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter at @CFAInstitute.

About Dynata

Dynata is the world’s largest first-party data company for insights, activation and measurement. With a reach that encompasses nearly 70 million consumers and business professionals globally, and an extensive library of individual profile attributes collected through surveys, Dynata is the cornerstone for precise, trustworthy quality data. The company has built innovative data services and solutions around its robust first-party data offering to bring the voice of the customer to the entire marketing continuum — from uncovering insights to activating campaigns and measuring cross-channel marketing ROI. Dynata serves more than 6,000 market research, media and advertising agencies, publishers, consulting and investment firms and corporate customers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Learn more at www.dynata.com.

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