Career Paths of Local Government Finance Professionals: A Recent Survey of GFOA Members Shed Light on a Relatively Unexplored Topic-The Career Development and Job Satisfaction of Local Government Finance Officers

By Facer, Rex L., II; Cornia, Gary C. et al. | Government Finance Review, August 2003 | Go to article overview

Career Paths of Local Government Finance Professionals: A Recent Survey of GFOA Members Shed Light on a Relatively Unexplored Topic-The Career Development and Job Satisfaction of Local Government Finance Officers


Facer, Rex L., II, Cornia, Gary C., Parsons, Robert J., Government Finance Review


As faculty training pre-service, in-service, and executive students for opportunities in public service, we are often asked for career advice. We suspect this is a common occurrence for faculty members, as well as for many senior managers who are informally asked to advise younger associates. Specific questions often focus on which classes students should take and on which job makes the most sense to achieve professional and personal goals.

In our role as faculty, the questions are often even more specific. We frequently train students who are looking for careers as finance professionals. The questions we are asked are important for personal reasons, but they are also important because of the significant responsibilities local financial leaders have been assigned. Local government finance professionals, for example, oversee $1 trillion in revenues each year. (1) Unfortunately, we are often at a loss on the advice we should give. There is actually little known or reported about successful careers in local financial management. We thus engaged in a long-term study to help us understand and focus the advice we hope to offer current and future students. This article reports the preliminary findings from an initial survey of local government finance professionals.

To explore issues surrounding the career paths of local government finance professionals, we sent a detailed survey to GFOA members who self-identify as local government finance professionals. To date we have received responses from 323 respondents. Respondents come from 45 different states and work in a wide range of local governments. Half of are employed by governments with populations of 50,000 or less (Exhibit 1).

DEMOGRAPHICS

Over half of all respondents (54 percent) are females. Thirty-two percent are in their 30s, 35 percent are in their 40s, 21 percent are in their 50s, and only 2 percent are older than 60. The vast majority of finance professionals are well-educated: Seventy-seven percent have completed a bachelor's degree and 51 percent of those with bachelor's degrees have also completed a graduate degree. The most common graduate degrees are in public administration and business administration (each claimed 38 percent of all master's degrees).

Each respondent completed a survey about his or career goals, mentors, training and development needs, career satisfaction, and career paths. This brief article presents highlights of our findings that should be of interest to students, finance professionals, and academics preparing students for careers in local government finance.

CAREER GOALS

Respondents were, asked to identify their career goals. Nearly 63 percent indicated that their career goal was to become a chief financial officer--to continue in their current career path. Thirteen percent indicated that their career goal was to make a career shift and enter city or county management as either the top manager or assistant manager. Eight percent reported that they wanted to be either an accountant or an auditor. Seven percent desired a position as a department head. Nearly 2 percent indicated that their goal was directed at retirement. The remaining respondents had some other career goal.

The two dominant career goals among local government finance professionals are to become a chief financial officer or to shift into general local government management. Notably, about one-third of the respondents do not see their current position as a stepping stone to becoming a chief financial officer. This finding suggests that while at least some students should consider general management classes, the remaining two-thirds would benefit from additional training in financial management.

CAREER PATHS

An important question is how do you become a government finance professional. Finance officers have followed a wide range of career paths to get where they are now. Some professionals start in entry-level tracks in large governments and methodically advance up the organization. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Career Paths of Local Government Finance Professionals: A Recent Survey of GFOA Members Shed Light on a Relatively Unexplored Topic-The Career Development and Job Satisfaction of Local Government Finance Officers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.