The thing that sets financial analysts apart from most people is their mathematical aptitude and a willingness to take certification exams and earn post-graduate academic degrees while they work long hours on the job.
It's not easy, and it's not a job for everyone. But for those who love an intellectual challenge, a career as a financial analyst can be extremely satisfying. Not only does it bring professional rewards, it also offers highly competitive salaries. In May 2008, the average yearly wages of financial analysts were $84,780, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -- and that's before you get your bonus.