What it is

Also known as “financial services,” this field is about the management, investment, and stewardship of money and financial instruments. It includes banks, insurance companies, investment firms, credit companies, rating agencies, and foreign exchange services. Some key challenges in this sector that humanities and social science PhDs can help with center mostly on communicating to wide varieties of audiences, both internal and external, about highly complex instruments, plans, positions, or strategies. Hours can be long and pressure intense, but salaries are good.

Starting points

Most entry-level jobs in Finance will be in larger companies based in major urban areas, typically in the New York City area. Look for roles in writing, marketing, communications or content management.


The field is highly competitive, even volatile, but it is fairly easy to make lateral moves once you get in, especially in your first few years. The very ambitious can advance into management, or you can gravitate towards smaller companies doing the type of specialized work you most enjoy.


Those with quantitative analytical skills have a leg up, but don’t write Finance off if you do not have those skills. The most important “deep skill” of all in communication roles is a genuine interest in finance and an ability to make complicated financial concepts clear to others.

Personality and outlook

If you have no interest whatsoever in business and find the making of money generally distasteful, this is not the career for you. Finance generally favors those with Type A personalities who are driven and ambitious. Those who combine strong analytical abilities with a disposition toward action and generating usable, valuable results, are strong candidates.


Take classes in business, economics, statistics and data science. Pick an aspect of the field and study up on it: read books, blogs, and related news sources daily. The ability to manage fast, wide, and competing streams of information is central to achieving competitive advantage in finance, along with the ability to separate signal from noise.

Real Life Examples