How to Get a Job in Financial Education
Love financial literacy? Why not make a career of it?
For college graduates, obtaining a degree is just the beginning. The next step is to consider career options, measuring jobs not only by the pay and benefits offered, but by the meaningfulness of the work and the impact they have.
Although researchers disagree on the best way for people to receive a financial education—whether in the classroom or at home—it still stands that financial educators have an increasingly necessary role teaching good money habits to youths, adults, underserved populations, incarcerated peoples, and other high-risk communities.
If all of this has convinced you to get a job as a financial literacy educator, you’re in good company. First, you’ll need to compare different career paths to find the one most suited to your professional goals. Explore the types of roles available, including the scope of responsibilities and respective salaries. Next, make sure your educational background, skills, and experience make you a hirable candidate for the work.
Here are the top three potential career paths for those interested in fighting the good fight to support financial literacy.
1. Financial Education Jobs at Colleges
Higher education institutions invest heavily in financial education for undergraduate and professional-studies students.
Typically, financial educator roles in higher education are located within a financial aid or student affairs office. Other times, they are housed under a dedicated financial education or financial wellness office. Additionally, some colleges create specialized finance programs with trained staff, such as a college extension program, which is a department that offers classes to the local community interested in learning practical trade, agriculture, or life skills. There are several levels of financial literacy educators in higher ed, from college interns (often the peer-to-peer mentors) to coordinators, curriculum creators, and directors.
Your responsibilities at a college or university include delivering an array of personal-finance instruction and counseling programs and services to serve students, alumni, parents, and staff members. Day-to-day responsibilities may look like project-managing in a team to develop student presentations, one-on-one coaching curriculum, digital content, guest lecture video series, on-campus exhibits and events, and various marketing materials on a broad range of financial literacy matters. Topics often include paying for college, managing student loan debt, researching scholarships, financial aid, accessing credit reports, how to budget, and other basic money management skills.
$42,000 to upwards of $100,000.
Education, skills, and experience required
Bachelors: Most higher education employees in these roles graduated with an undergraduate degree that relates to understanding human behavior or business and finance management. For instance, a degree in education, sociology, psychology, economics, finance, or business may best prepare you for the type of work.
Masters: Many employees have gone on to complete graduate studies with degrees in business administration or higher education—whether student affairs or curriculum and instruction.
Ph.D: While not required, some employees even complete further studies in education or psychology.
Certificates: Get a board certification as a certified financial planner. Additional certificates include CPFM and AFCPE.
Experiences: It’s crucial for financial literacy educators in higher education to have pre- and post-baccalaureate experience teaching and managing college students. As a student, consider volunteering for collegiate residential services, student activities, or a teaching assistant position. Experiences with crisis intervention, counseling, financial planning, or general human resources will also help you stand out.
2. Financial Education Jobs at Nonprofits
Nonprofits dedicated to financial education work to inspire empowered financial decision-making for individuals and families at the local, state, and national levels.
There are a variety of financial educator roles at nonprofits within fundraising, marketing, curriculum, and policy departments, for instance. These nonprofits each have a different approach to financial education and community outreach. A credit union, for example, is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution that is owned by and serves its members. Similarly, nonprofits like the Council for Economic Education are leaders in financial education and focus on students from kindergarten through high school.
Every financial education nonprofit has its own structure, mission, and approach. The single unifying principle is usually their goal to create financial education programming and advocate for financial literacy policies. Many nonprofits have an all-hands-on-deck approach to sharing responsibilities. As such, your day-to-day may include creating educational programming and content for members, clients, students, or underserved populations, outreach, fundraising, budget management, promoting partnerships, event planning, and creating informational marketing materials.
$38,000 to upwards of $100,000.
Education, skills, and experience required
Bachelors: Financial educators working in nonprofits have a range from liberal arts to science undergraduate degrees. These often include education, finance, economics, international relations, english, history, and other liberal arts degrees.
Masters: While not necessarily required, a masters in business administration may be useful for management positions at a nonprofit.
Certificates: Not typically required, but depending on the scope of your work a financial planning or teaching certificate may be relevant.
Experiences: Those working in financial education at a nonprofit must have a strong written and oral communication background. Previous experience with teaching, counseling, curriculum creation, or financial management is a plus.
3. Financial Education Internships
We spoke to Gineyda Diaz, the executive director of My Money Workshop, about how best to start a career at a financial education-focused nonprofit. My Money Workshop is a nonprofit that provides financial literacy classes and trainings to students and other community members across the New York tri-state area.
Diaz recommended volunteering for an organization, such as My Money Workshop.
“If people are not looking for financial gain from teaching, they can offer their services to organizations like ours,” she said.
Research financial education nonprofits in your area whose missions best aligns with your personal and professional goals. Students should look for internship or volunteer opportunities as a way to get a foot in the door. For those further along in their careers, a volunteer position helps build experience for career switches later on.
“My Money Workshop partners with public/private high schools, colleges, universities, specialty schools, and community-based organizations to deliver highly interactive workshops to students and community members,” Diaz said. “We have created financial literacy courses designed for all audiences from school-aged kids, college students, individuals in prison re-entry programs, and retirement communities among others.”
These workshops are delivered by volunteer instructors who are experts from all financial industry backgrounds. Volunteer instructors work closely with local communities on a money management or economics topic during a few workshops each year.
“The commitment to volunteer is very manageable,” Diaz added. “By volunteering, people can give back in their own neighborhoods and pull from their own experiences to help teach young people—and adults alike—the value of smart financial planning.”
Don’t underestimate the power of networking when you hold an internship or volunteer position. It’s a great chance to gain valuable skills while proving your work ethic and passion to the leadership team. Express your interest in working at the organization in a larger role and make sure to prove your value by contributing to additional projects and events. When a full-time position becomes available at a later date, you’ll be the first person they think of to fill it!
Gineyda Diaz is a nonprofit executive with over 20 years’ experience working with small- to mid-size organizations. Her work at these organizations introduced Diaz to every aspect of organizational growth from vendor management, donor relations and retention, infrastructure development, volunteer and program support, as well as marketing. Diaz currently serves as the first-ever executive director for My Money Workshop, a financial literacy nonprofit servicing the New York tri-state area. You can find her on Facebook at @mymoneyworkshop.
Are you a financial literacy educator? Tweet to us @OppUniversity and let us know what you do!