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Financial Administration and Program Specialist
Significant Points

Work that is classified in a two-grade interval pattern up through GS-11 (i.e., GS-5, 7, 9, and 11) which has not been designated as professional in a series definition is generally referred to as administrative. Administrative work (and here the term administrative is used broadly to refer to positions on both the program or mission and the administrative or management services side of an organization) requires knowledge of the principles, concepts, policies, and objectives applicable to a program or administrative area. Although administrative and program work may not require education in specialized fields, it does involve skills (e.g., analytical, research, writing, and judgment) typically demonstrated by substantial, responsible experience.

The duties of trainees performing administrative and program work often overlap or are similar to those of full performance employees doing procedural work. In such cases the purpose of the assignments and the career ladder must be considered in determining the basic nature of the work. Guidance and discussion on distinguishing between one-grade interval and two-grade interval work is available in material developed for distinguishing between professional and nonprofessional accounting positions in the Accounting and Budget Group, GS-0500.

Nature of the Work

Almost every firm, government agency, and other type of organization employs one or more financial managers. Financial managers oversee the preparation of financial reports, direct investment activities, and implement cash management strategies. Managers also develop strategies and implement the long-term goals of their organization.

The duties of financial managers vary with their specific titles, which include controller, treasurer or finance officer, credit manager, cash manager, risk and insurance manager, and manager of international banking. Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses, that summarize and forecast the organization's financial position. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by regulatory authorities. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments. Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization's budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds, manage associated risks, supervise cash management activities, execute capital-raising strategies to support the firm's expansion, and deal with mergers and acquisitions. Credit managers oversee the firm's issuance of credit, establishing credit-rating criteria, determining credit ceilings, and monitoring the collections of past-due accounts.

Cash managers monitor and control the flow of cash receipts and disbursements to meet the business and investment needs of their firm. For example, cash flow projections are needed to determine whether loans must be obtained to meet cash requirements or whether surplus cash can be invested. Risk and insurance managers oversee programs to minimize risks and losses that might arise from financial transactions and business operations. Insurance managers decide how best to limit a company’s losses by obtaining insurance against risks such as the need to make disability payments for an employee who gets hurt on the job or costs imposed by a lawsuit against the company. Risk managers control financial risk by using hedging and other techniques to limit a company’s exposure to currency or commodity price changes. Managers specializing in international finance develop financial and accounting systems for the banking transactions of multinational organizations. Risk managers are also responsible for calculating and limiting potential operations risk. Operations risk includes a wide range of risks, such as a rogue employee damaging the company’s finances or a hurricane damaging an important factory.

Financial institutions—such as commercial banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and mortgage and finance companies—employ additional financial managers who oversee various functions, such as lending, trusts, mortgages, and investments, or programs, including sales, operations, or electronic financial services. These managers may solicit business, authorize loans, and direct the investment of funds, always adhering to Federal and State laws and regulations.

Branch managers of financial institutions administer and manage all of the functions of a branch office. Job duties may include hiring personnel, approving loans and lines of credit, establishing a rapport with the community to attract business, and assisting customers with account problems. Branch mangaers also are becoming more oriented toward sales and marketing. As a result, it is important that they have substantial knowledge about the types of products that the bank sells. Financial managers who work for financial institutions must keep abreast of the rapidly growing array of financial services and products.

In addition to the preceding duties, financial managers perform tasks unique to their organization or industry. For example, government financial managers must be experts on the government appropriations and budgeting processes, whereas healthcare financial managers must be knowledgeable about issues surrounding healthcare financing. Moreover, financial managers must be aware of special tax laws and regulations that affect their industry.

Financial managers play an important role in mergers and consolidations and in global expansion and related financing. These areas require extensive, specialized knowledge to reduce risks and maximize profit. Financial managers increasingly are hired on a temporary basis to advise senior managers on these and other matters. In fact, some small firms contract out all their accounting and financial functions to companies that provide such services.

The role of the financial manager, particularly in business, is changing in response to technological advances that have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to produce financial reports. Technological improvements have made it easier to produce financial reports, and, as a consequence, financial managers now perform more data analysis that allows them to offer senior managers profit-maximizing ideas. They often work on teams, acting as business advisors to top management.

Work environment. Working in comfortable offices, often close to top managers and with departments that develop the financial data those managers need, financial managers typically have direct access to state-of-the-art computer systems and information services. They commonly work long hours, often up to 50 or 60 per week. Financial managers generally are required to attend meetings of financial and economic associations and may travel to visit subsidiary firms or to meet customers.

Resource Analyst, GS-0501-07

Introductory Statement: This position is within the Acme Programs and Projects Directorate. Incumbent serves as a Resource Analyst. The employee contributes financial management support to the establishment of program objectives and is responsible for the application of financial management techniques in the accomplishment of those objectives

Performs Trainee Work 100%

As an advanced trainee, increases knowledge, skills, and abilities in the occupation. Researches regulations and other pertinent directives for answers to questions prior to consulting with the supervisor or a higher-grade employee. Successfully completes required formal and on-the-job training, and demonstrates a progressive ability to independently accomplish assignments.

Assignments are varied in nature, yet limited in complexity. They are structured to provide a means by which the incumbent can display and validate a working knowledge of regulations, policies, and analytical procedures and apply an increasingly full-range of the principles, concepts, and work processes common to the occupation. Makes acceptable recommendations with respect to policies and procedures.

Increases networks and contacts beneficial to the successful performance of assignments. Conducts regular interactions with colleagues and supervisors in order to complete work assignments. Contacts extend beyond the immediate work area and the work requires effective coordination and solicitation of cooperative efforts from other administrative or support staff.

Interprets and applies pertinent regulations and style manuals governing written communications in order to prepare written materials which communicate the intended information. Researches and analyzes data, issues, and information that support project recommendations or the work assignments of higher-grade specialists. Prepares well-researched and logically organized presentations related to work assignments. Presents facts, issues, and positions that convey the intended information with the appropriate diplomacy and emphasis.

Financial Manager, GS-0501-13

Introductory Statement: As the Project Financial Manager (budget, finance, pricing), the incumbent reports to the Deputy Project Manger for Resources (DPM/R) as a fully functional member of his/her business support team. The incumbent supplies financial management expertise to the establishment of technical program objectives and is responsible for applying financial management techniques to the accomplishment of those objectives.

Performs Budget Execution Activities 30%

Evaluates relationships between major agency administered program changes and the financial state of the organization. Takes action to ensure adequate funds for project coverage. Works with other GSFC business entities to consolidate data for viable overview of the financial status of the project.

Follows allotment to the facility in accordance with the Fiscal Plan. Distributes cost ceilings to management officials responsible for programs, maintains accounting records to prevent over-obligation, and periodically analyzes funds to identify possible trends which may result in surplus or shortage of funds.

Reviews and coordinates accounting records and prepares apportionments, allocations, and operating budgets. Monitors, tracks, and reports on program obligations. Assures that program funding data is entered into agency financial system correctly. Conducts annual year-end closing activities and reconciles with accounting records.

Analyzes, evaluates, recommends, and revises annual supplemental requests for all working capital fund accounts.

Participates in setting objectives with senior managers to meet short and long term budget needs of the organization's programs and assists in establishment of activity schedules to meet planned objectives.

Prepares a monthly status of funds for submission to senior management. Prepares a quarterly status of funds for submission to the executive staff.

Performs Financial Control Activities 25%

Works with resources staff on difficult and complex fund control activities impacting substantive mission-oriented programs and/or projects. Reviews, analyzes, and reports on various project subsystem areas. Identifies accounting changes, resource control functions, and operating level problems to ensure funds are efficiently controlled and financial records accurately reflect the status of the project's financial condition.

Develops resources data for presentations or reports on financial goals, objectives, and information to meet programmatic, budgetary, and management initiatives.

Applies expert knowledge of resource control functions to solve controversial problems in financial reporting and accounting systems ensuring that requirements are met in accordance with laws, regulations, and standards. Develops, evaluates, and recommends options and implements approved changes to improve accounting process to satisfy regulatory requirements, maintain adequate internal controls, and capture useful, reliable, and meaningful financial information.

Presents Budget Estimates and Justifications 15%

Consolidates and validates input from subordinate levels for the presentation of the budget. Oversees the compilation of materials. Working with the Project Manager or Deputy Project Manager for Resources, coordinates the presentation of and presents annual and long-range budgets for the substantive and supporting programs and/or projects.

Effectively presents budget proposals to senior officials to approve requested funding. Participates in various levels of budget reviews, including reviews by Center general management and by executive level management at Agency Headquarters.

Performs Cost Accounting Functions 15%

Serves as a technical expert, providing guidance related to general cost accounting procedures. Ensures full and proper utilization of cost accounting functions, including analyses and reconciliations, financial reporting assignments, accounting control, obligations and cost documents reviews, agency systems implementation, and procedure development and implementation.

Maintains integrity of the cost reporting at the project level. Ensures accuracy and completeness of product standard costs.

Supports planning, purchasing, order entry, productions, management, and finance through costing and analysis.

Applies specialized cost accounting knowledge to solve controversial problems in financial reporting, developing accounting system changes, and ensuring all reporting requirements are met in accordance with laws, regulations, and standards.

Prepares Budget Estimates and Justifications for Internal Agency Programs 15%

Formulates a consolidated Program Operating Plan (POP) budget for important, substantive departmental/division programs and/or projects on both a long and short-term basis. Provides expert advice and guidance to program and line managers on the interpretation of budget estimates, the formulation of budget requests and modifications thereto in support of multi-year development of major space projects.

Interprets Agency, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congressional policies or regulations for the justification and submission of budget estimates. Coordinates budgetary actions with Agency Headquarters and other organizations and levels of management.

Reviews long-range budgetary and program requirements to assure their conformance with established Agency policies and intent to Congress. Develops an optimum budget, justification, supporting materials, and historical statements for providing the best possible review of Project needs. Determines the time-phasing of budget plans (e.g., acquisition and use of funds) to coincide with payments to contractors in development, procurement, or modification of systems. Prepares/edits justifications for funding needs.


Serves as a financial consultant and advisor participating in management and technical working groups and special ad hoc advisory panels as may be necessary for expediting solutions to spacecraft or space vehicle development problems.

Serves as a member of Source Selection Committees and Source Evaluation Boards as assigned. Prepares in-house cost estimates and work breakdown structures. Evaluates offerors' cost proposals and provides recommendations for establishing cost/price objectives for contract negotiations.

In addition to supervision of and involvement of the financial activities of the Project, the incumbent is responsible for: (a) personal review and analysis of the progress of the financial activities toward Project objectives; (b) recommendations as to adjustments in financial staffing necessary to most effectively accomplish the Project mission; and (c) participation in responses to audit and other inquiries by various activities such as Agency Audit, GAO, Center Management and Agency Headquarters Program Management.

Frequently acts for or speaks for the DPM/R on financial matters.

Interfaces with the Procurement Operations Directorate to provide adequate and trained personnel to enhance the effectiveness of the financial capability of the Project.

Individual Occupational Requirements

Most financial managers need a bachelor's degree, and many have a master's degree or professional certification. Bank managers often have experience as loan officers or in other sales positions. Financial managers also need strong interpersonal, math, and business skills.

Education and training. A bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is the minimum academic preparation for financial managers. However, many employers now seek graduates with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, or economics. These academic programs develop analytical skills and teach financial analysis methods and technology.

Experience may be more important than formal education for some financial manager positions—most notably, branch managers in banks. Banks typically fill branch manager positions by promoting experienced loan officers and other professionals who excel at their jobs. Other financial managers may enter the profession through formal management training programs offered by the company.

Licensure. Many financial managers work in accounting departments. Accounting positions normally require workers to be certified public accountants (CPAs).

Other qualifications. Candidates for financial management positions need many different skills. Interpersonal skills are important because these jobs involve managing people and working as part of a team to solve problems. Financial managers must have excellent communication skills to explain complex financial data. Because financial managers work extensively with various departments in their firm, a broad understanding of business is essential.

Financial managers should be creative thinkers and problem-solvers, applying their analytical skills to business. Financial managers must have knowledge of international finance because financial operations are increasingly being affected by the global economy. In addition, a good knowledge of regulatory compliance procedures is essential.

Certification and advancement. Financial managers may broaden their skills and exhibit their competency by attaining professional certification. Many associations offer professional certification programs. For example, the CFA Institute confers the Chartered Financial Analyst designation on investment professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree, work experience, and pass three difficult exams. The Association for Financial Professionals confers the Certified Treasury Professional credentials to those who pass a computer-based exam and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience. Continuing education is required to maintain these credentials. Also, financial managers who specialize in accounting or budgeting sometimes earn the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. The CMA is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants to its members who have a bachelor's degree, at least 2 years of work experience, pass the institute's four-part examination, and fulfill continuing education requirements.

Continuing education is vital to financial managers, who must cope with the growing complexity of global trade, changes in Federal and State laws and regulations, and the proliferation of new and complex financial instruments. Firms often provide opportunities for workers to broaden their knowledge and skills by encouraging them to take graduate courses and attend conferences related to their specialty. Financial management, banking, and credit union associations, often in cooperation with colleges and universities, sponsor numerous national and local training programs. Subjects covered by training programs include accounting management, budget management, corporate cash management, financial analysis, international banking, and information systems. Many firms pay all or part of the costs for employees who successfully complete the courses. Although experience, ability, and leadership are emphasized for promotion, advancement may be accelerated by this type of special study.

Because financial management is so important to efficient business operations, well-trained, experienced financial managers who display a strong grasp of the operations of various departments within their organization are prime candidates for promotion to top management positions. Some financial managers transfer to closely related positions in other industries. Those with extensive experience and access to sufficient capital may start their own consulting firms.


Financial managers held about 539,300 jobs in 2008. Although they can be found in every industry, approximately 31 percent were employed by finance and insurance establishments, such as banks, savings institutions, finance companies, credit unions, insurance carriers, and securities dealers. About 7 percent worked for Federal, State, or local government.

Job Outlook

Employment growth for financial managers is expected is to be as fast as the average for all occupations. However, applicants will likely face keen competition for jobs. Those with a master's degree and certification will have the best opportunities.

Employment change. Employment of financial managers over the 2008–18 decade is expected to grow by 8 percent, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. Regulatory changes and the expansion and globalization of finance and companies will increase the need for financial expertise and drive job growth. As the economy expands, both the growth of established companies and the creation of new businesses will spur demand for financial managers. Employment of bank branch managers is expected to increase because banks are creating new branches. However, mergers, acquisitions, and corporate downsizing are likely to restrict the employment growth of financial managers to some extent.

Long-run demand for financial managers in the securities and commodities industry will continue to be driven by the need to handle increasingly complex financial transactions and manage a growing amount of investments. Financial managers also will be needed to handle mergers and acquisitions, raise capital, and assess global financial transactions. Employment of risk managers, who assess risks for insurance and investment purposes, also will grow.

Some companies may hire financial managers on a temporary basis, to see the organization through a short-term crisis or to offer suggestions for boosting profits. Other companies may contract out all accounting and financial operations. Even in these cases, however, financial managers may be needed to oversee the contracts.

Job prospects. As with other managerial occupations, jobseekers are likely to face competition because the number of job openings is expected to be less than the number of applicants. Candidates with expertise in accounting and finance—particularly those with a master's degree or certification—should enjoy the best job prospects. An understanding of international finance, derivatives, and complex financial instruments is important. Excellent communication skills are essential because financial managers must explain and justify complex financial transactions.

As banks expand the range of products and services they offer to include wealth management, insurance, and investment products, branch managers with knowledge in these areas will be needed. As a result, candidates who are licensed to sell insurance or securities will have more favorable prospects.

Additional Sources

For information about careers and certification in financial management, contact:

  • Financial Management Association International, College of Business Administration, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave., BSN 3331, Tampa, FL 33620. Internet:

For information about careers in financial and treasury management and the Certified Treasury Professional program, contact:

  • Association for Financial Professionals, 4520 East-West Hwy., Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814. Internet:

For information about the Chartered Financial Analyst program, contact:

For information on The American Institute of Banking and its programs, contact:

  • American Bankers Association, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20036. Internet:

For information about the Certified in Management Accounting designation, contact:

  • Institute of Management Accountants, 10 Paragon Dr., Montvale, NJ 07645. Internet:

Information on obtaining Financial Administration positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, and
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