A CFO job description will show that they are the head of the financial unit of a corporation or business. They immerse themselves in numbers and analyze data to look at current and project future financial health of the company. These individuals must have many years of experience in accounting or finance to become a CFO. CFOs work closely with CEOs to advice them on the financial picture of the company.

CFOs are a critical member of any business. They have a high-stress job but are rewarded for their responsibilities with a high level of pay. This article will go over what CFOs do, what their responsibilities are, what skills are important to have, and the education and experience necessary to attain the position of CFO. In addition, the job outlook and working environment will be described.

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What Do CFOs Do?

CFOs have a lot of responsibility for the financial health of a company. This includes being financially responsible if there are inaccuracies in reports. This is due to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. The actual function of a CFO will change based on the type and size of company they work for. For example, non-profits will have a different financial picture than private, for-profit companies.

The CFO job description will show that they immerse themselves in data and generate financial reports. They must be competent in technology and use software programs to keep organized and manage assets. They must excel at working with numbers and at managing a large number of people. CFOs work full-time.

The educational requirements for a CFO are an advanced degree in business or finance. Their median salary is $125,000 but this salary can change significantly depending on the industry and size of the company.

CFO Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

CFOs function in an increasingly complex environment. They must not only manage finances, but lead, innovate, and adapt. The following duties would be expected in a CFO job description.

  • Strategize for the future and absorb unexpected loss and manage unexpected financial gains.
  • Work with the CEO to inform them of the financial health of a company.
  • Prepare financial reports for fellow executives, for public consumption, and for investors in the company.
  • Be financially responsible for inaccuracies in the financial system and cash flow of businesses.
  • Maintain a healthy capital, including managing debt and paying off necessary loans.
  • Supervise smaller departments and lower-level accounting managers.
  • Monitor the liabilities of a company, including current policies and any updates.
  • Manage the cash flow of a company through establishing policies and maintaining financial accuracy.

CFO Required Skills

Analytical skills. The vast majority of a CFOs time should be spent on analyzing data. CFOs need to immerse themselves in data and numbers and present this information to the other executives in a company. People love to use data to inform decisions and CFOs will provide this information.
Adaptability skills. CFOs need to embrace change and find new ways to measure financial impact in a company. Businesses need to innovate while at the same time making sure that they are making smart decisions for the future.
Management skills. CFOs need to manage technology, information, and other people. They must be able to stay organized to manage information and solid interpersonal skills to manage people. Being a good manager is also being a good delegator. Giving the right tasks to the right people is very important.
Representation skills. A CFO must be a prominent face of the company. New business models face challenges from traditional regulations and policies. CFOs must advocate for their company and employees when it comes to unions and salaries.

How to Become a CFO

Since the year 2002, CFOs have had increasing responsibilities and their education and experience needs to show that they can handle this responsibility. It is common for CFOs to have an advanced degree, but the type of degree depends on the size of the firm. CFOs can work for one company or they can work for multiple companies in a consulting role. A CFO is not a position that someone right out of college will acquire as experience is required.

Education & Training Requirements

The vast majority of CFOs will have their bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field such as finance, economics, or liberal arts. Taking courses that focus on management of both systems and people is important for these professionals. There is no required certification but some CFOs will pursue their CPA.

When looking at education required by firm, large firms prefer CFOs with a master’s of business administration and medium firms prefer CFOs with a master’s of accounting or a CPA. CFOs need to continue their training and learn throughout their career to stay current in valuable skills in the field.

Work Experience

CFOs, like all executive officers, need extensive experience prior to becoming a CFO. They may work as an accountant, a financial planner, and a financial manager in their career progression towards becoming a CFO. Experience in being a controller or in charge of the treasury are also required. As a person gains experience in different skills that the CFO needs to have, they should make it known that they desire to become a CFO. This can identify opportunities and allow executives to recommend professional development.

There are other skills that need to be gained along the way. Developing an excellent organizational style and conveying meaning in a way that is clear and nontechnical are skills that will be critical to a successful CFO. It is the rare person who would have these skills without experience.

Work Schedules

CFOs are expected to work full time and extra hours are not uncommon. They must get done the necessary tasks for the financial health of a company or corporation and also meet regularly with the other executives. Most of their work is done via the computer, albeit with specialized programs. They can work in the evenings and weekends.

CFOs can work for themselves. This means that they serve as a CFO for more than one business and serve in a part-time or temporary capacity. This type of CFO can have staff to help them manage the range of accounting portfolios they operate. They spend much of their time completing financial analysis for the different companies and also managing the company they run.

Career Prospects

CFO job growth will vary by industry. The average is expected to be 7 percent. CFOs who are versed in the globalized economy and can manage complex financial portfolios will be desirable to companies. According to Payscale data, the majority of CFOs are men. Women may have a difficult time breaking through the executive glass ceiling. It is extremely competitive to get a CFO position and those who have skills in leadership, strategic planning, and long-term financial modeling will see greater interest from employers, and ultimately, a higher salary.

The median base pay for CFOs is $125,000 dollars. However, this number can increase significantly through bonuses and profit shares. In addition, the average salary varies widely from $69,000 to $255,000. Due to the majority of companies being located in large cities, career prospects are better in these areas.


CFOs have a significant amount of responsibility to ensure the financial health of a company. The CFO job description shows that they must ensure accurate records and identify areas for healthy economic growth. While this responsibility comes with a lot of stress and long hours, the pay and public perception of the job are positive.