Accounting vs Finance Degree - Which Is the Right Perfect Path for You?

Comparing an accounting vs finance degree program may be important. An accounting career may be more than just working as an accountant. You may be interested in things like financial planning. Accounting majors could be very different from finance. Finance majors may be just as alluring to some people.

Finance and accounting are two components of business degrees. Each is a bit different. All are valuable. Each one aims to help a company to run well. Some also have personal finance management focuses.

Accounting may have a very narrow focus. Finance may cover more topics. Many students take some of each of these programs. Consider all of the job opportunities that interest you. Then, consider the types of career goals you may have. Here is a look at the differences in accounting vs finance degree paths. This may help you get to the goals you have.

Accounting Degree Programs

An accounting degree programs aims to focus on math and numbers. It may include areas of financial reporting. It may include risk management through data. Accountants often focus on gathering data and organizing it. Others tend to make decisions about what that data means.

Accounting degrees are typically a foundation for many concentrated careers. Often, they involve analyzing data. They may include using financial info to evaluate a company’s financial health. That may include areas of bookkeeping. They also go further. This includes creating balance sheets. They may also create income statements. It may include cash flow.

You may spend time using past records. You may also use current reports to create this data. Accounting degrees may often focus on creating information vs finance degrees. That info then helps to ensure accountability. They may also influence decisions a company makes.

Many types of accounting degree programs exist. You may want to consider more than one. Some options include these:

  • (BAcc) Bachelor of Accountancy
  • (BA or ACC) Bachelor of Arts in Accounting
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Many may start pursuing work with a bachelor’s degree. You may go further. You may spend several more years learning. Some of the grad program options include these:

  • Master of Accounting (MAcc)
  • Master of Science in Accounting (MSA)

Students may learn the basics of the degree they choose. Then, they may choose a concentration that interests them. They may also choose electives. This may give you more room to expand your degree. You may even take some finance courses.

Finance Degree Programs

A finance degree is significantly different vs an accounting degree. This type of degree typically offers help for those who want to work in a range of fields. That may include banking. It may include consultancy. Finance programs usually focus on making decisions about investments. These professionals use data that may help form decisions. They may help companies to create profit. Many create strategies for growth.

They may also assess info and data. They may determine if funds are being used wisely. And, they may help companies make decisions about what to change. You may spend time creating strategies for building success. Some may use accountancy data to make those decisions.

Finance majors tend to be very specific vs accounting majors. They may focus on investments. This may include stock investing. Others focus on financial analysis for corporations.

There are typically several finance degree program options. Consider a few different ones. Choose that which applies to the work you want to do.

  • (BA/F) Bachelor of Arts in Finance
  • (BSc/F) Bachelor of Science in Finance

You may go on to a grad degree. Many students do this. It helps them focus their education. You may need to do this for some positions. It may provide more advanced education. Some of the grad school options include:

  • (MSF) Master of Science in Finance
  • (M.Fin) Master of Finance
  • (MAF) Master of Applied Finance
  • (MFE) Master of Financial Economics

Accounting vs Finance Degree Programs

Finance vs. accounting degree programs may be very different. Higher education may help you meet your goals in either field. Concentrations matter. Take a look at this chart. It shows some of the differences you may expect. Which degree path is best for you?

Programs Accounting Finance
Designed For Students who are looking to become accountants Students looking to get into the field of finance
Courses Accounting, Cost Accounting, Accounting Information Systems Introduction to Corporate Finance, Investment Analysis and Management, Financial Management
Career Path Options Certified Pubic Accountant, Government Accountant, Internal Auditor Credit Analyst, Finance Officer, Financial Advisor, Financial Planner
Certifications Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

Which Degree Program May Be Perfect for You?

There are many options. Finding one perfect for you may be a challenge. You may love math. You may love people. Some in this field may enjoy creating financial goals. Others might like managing finances. Both fields may offer some of the same skills.

You may do well in accounting in some cases. Do you like to work numbers? Do you enjoy spending a lot of time on data? You may want to help companies manage their budget. You may also be interested in tax careers. This field is likely to be very analytical. It’s typically all about gathering data and organizing it. You may do well here if you are a critical thinker. And, you may also do well if you like to solve problems.

You may wish to focus on financing in other cases. You may like to find solutions. Or, you may like to see companies succeed. You may want to work with people more than books. And, you appreciate the math, but may be more focused on results. You might like to plan and create strategies. Or, you may be interested in economics. You may want to work in areas of investment. You may want to help start businesses.

What about your skills?

Accounting degree programs typically focus heavily on math and statistics. You might need to be willing to learn accounting methods. And, you may also need to be interested in following rules for compliance. You may also be the type of person that likes to interpret data. Or, you may learn skills in accounting principles that are complex. You don’t mind a challenge in that way.

The skills you need in finance are usually a bit different vs an accounting degree. You may need more critical thinking skills. You may also have to be able to make decisions. And, you may love to research and communicate with others. Many have theoretical knowledge. They are typically analytical people. You also may need to voice your opinion. Some in this field may teach others. They may offer insight into problems. They may develop strategies by thinking outside of the box.

It’s also important to think about your goals. Choose a career path first. Consider what type of business you want to work in. Think about the day to day work you may do. Accountants spend a lot of time with computer software. They analyze data. Those in finance spend more time with people. They deal with meetings. They may need to use technology to develop insights.

What may you pursue with an accounting degree?

Accounting degree outcomes may be numerous. Many pursue work with a bachelor’s degree. You may want to go further. A grad degree may be important to some people. Some degrees might require a special license or certification. That is true of becoming a certified public accountant. You may need more training to be a chartered accountant.

Are taxes interesting to you? If so, a career in tax is possible. You may need a certification. You may work in tax firms. And, you may also do taxes for companies. Some own private businesses.

International accounting is another area. You may want to help companies grow across borders. You may work in insurance companies. There, you may help with insurance claims. Government agencies hire accountants, too. They typically use them to balance finances. You may do this at a local, state, or federal level.

Your accounting degree may include a focus on working in a business. In this case, you may take sales data and record it. You may use software to manage it. You may track profits. Or, you may track expenses. You may help with ensuring accuracy in a company’s books. This may include balancing financial statements from banks.

What may you pursue with a finance degree?

Many people with a finance degree typically have a concentration. This may include corporate finance. It might be financial regulation. Some may work in areas such as behavioral finance. Financing modeling is likely another area. There may be many others.

Are you interested in helping to create money and build wealth? Finance degrees may focus on the “doing” part of business. Those in this job make decisions. They may also educate those who make decisions.

Most financing undergrad degrees focus on one area. Post grad degrees let students get more focus. They may want to work in banking. Some may work in financial engineering. Still others might focus on financial planning. The choice is yours.

The key is choosing the perfect finance degree. Consider the type of work you plan to do. You may do well in this field when you like creating plans. You may do well if you like to analyze data.

Courses

The courses you take for any program could help you prepare for your future job. There is some overlap in these courses. Here is a look at some of the courses you may take in accounting vs finance degree programs.

Common Accounting Courses

Accounting Information Systems

This is the study of business structure. You may learn how to collect and process data. You may learn about auditing. This course typically aims to focus on creating business reports. These skills help accountants gather data and make it usable.

Principles of Accounting

The principles of accounting tend to focus on several types of rules for accounting. This may include things like cost principle. It may include time period principle. You may learn more advanced concepts in a second course.

Cost Accounting

Cost accounting is a type of managerial accounting. It aims to focus on the cost of producing. Businesses use this info to make decisions. They also use it to determine profits. It may help companies improve costs and manage goals.

Corporate Taxation

This type of course typically aims to teach students about corporate tax. Corporate taxation is usually for federal tax reporting. It often teaches fundamentals. The focus may be on business taxes. Students may learn about the history and laws about taxes.

Common Finance Courses

Financial Statement Analysis

A financial statement analysis course may focus on reading statements. These are business documents. Students may learn to create them as well. It may teach what they are. It also may teach how to use data in decision making. Students may explore a variety of topics related to creating statements. This may include profit and loss.

Financial Markets and Institutions

A Financial Markets and Institutions course aims to teach about financial assets and markets. It often discusses the role of these areas in the economy. Students may learn about what financial markets are. They may explore concepts like levels of interest rates. They may also explore economy related skills.

Risk and Insurance

A course in risk management and insurance like this typically focuses on decision making. Students may learn how to identify risk. They then may learn how to mitigate it. That may be through the use of insurance products. Students may learn how to apply risk to financials. That includes for decision making.

Intermediate Corporate Finance

An intermediate corporate finance course may expand on finance skills. Students may learn topics related to business finance. This may includes using tools to manage this info. Students may learn about making business decisions. They may learn about working capital management. Many may take courses in multinational finance. This course often follows basic or intro programs.

Career Path Options

Degree programs may be important. You may need to know what degree and coursework is best for the career you hope to have. You may want to work in finance careers. And, you may be after a career path in accounting.

Employers may need people in both fields. Managing money and data is not easy to do. Software helps this. Yet, educated pros may make a difference for many companies. Many organizations need these professionals. That includes companies of all sizes. It also includes nonprofit organizations. Some work in government agencies.

Many types of companies may use both of these services. That includes banks. Building companies, insurance companies, and retailers as well. You may work in the public sector. You may work in an investment company.

And, you may use these skills to start your own company. This may take time. It may also help to have a more advanced degree to reach that goal.

Unsure where to start? Consider what type of work interests you. Think about your perfect job. Do some research. What type of education do you need? Which skills are important? Then, consider the details. That includes how much you may make. It also includes the demand for a job like you want.

Take a look at some of the jobs you may have in the United States. The information here comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Accounting Sample Career Paths

With an accounting degree, you may qualify for jobs such as the following.

Accountants

An accountant typically works to prepare financial records. They may work in businesses. Some have their own firm. They gather and manage financial information. This may include verifying accuracy. It may include examining accounting methods. They may work for banks. Some work for tax firms.

2019 Median Pay: $71,550
2019-29 Job Outlook: 4% 

Bookkeeping Clerk

An bookkeeping clerk often works in companies. They provide bookkeeping services. They may also provide auditing services. Some provide basic accounting services. They help to produce financial records. They also verify accuracy in accounting. This includes looking over the financial books. They may help make decisions in financial matters.

2019 Median Pay: $41,230
2019-29 Job Outlook: 6% decline

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents typically work for government agencies. They may be tax examiners. Some work as tax collectors. Others may work as revenue agents. They may work to verify tax forms and records. They may also determine taxes owed. And, they might work with individuals and companies to collect taxes. These professionals may work for the United States federal government.

2019 Median Pay: $54,890
2019-29 Job Outlook: 4% decline

Financial Manager

financial manager is typically a  type of financial manager. You may work with direct investment activities. Some may develop investment plans for companies. Some may help to establish financial goals for businesses. They may often create financial reports. They may gather insights and make recommendations based on data. Many also help minimize risks. They may work for banks. Some might work within businesses. Others could work in insurance companies. Investment firms often hire controllers as well.

2019 Median Pay: $129,890
2019-29 Job Outlook: 15%

Top Executive

Top Executive may be a Chief Financial Officer or (CFO). Their job typically focuses on financial strategy planning. They use data from the company’s books to make decisions and may develop financial goals. They may also create policies for reaching those goals. Some create financial strategies. They are an important role in many organizations. That includes smaller companies, too.

2019 Median Pay: $104,690
2019-29 Job Outlook: 4%

Budget Analyst

budget analyst typically help  to organize finances. They could work with public and private companies. They may help create a budget. Or, they may look at existing budgets to improve them. They may also work to pinpoint concerns. They are usually a valuable component of many companies. Some may work in universities. Others might work for nonprofit organizations. Some work in government agencies as well.

2019 Median Pay: $76,540
2019-29 Job Outlook: 3%

Finance Sample Career Paths

Finance careers are numerous. They include these career path options.

Financial Analyst

financial analyst typically gathers information and develops reports. They may often work to create long term goals for companies. Some might work with individuals. They often create direct investment activities. Many spend time working to create financial strategies for people. They analyze trends. Many work in executive positions.,

2019 Median Pay: $81,590
2019-29 Job Outlook: 5%

Financial Advisor

financial advisor typically works with people to manage their finances. Some may help people to plan their financial future. They may help them make investment decisions. They may help with asset management. Some might help with debt management. They may work in the insurance industry as well. Some may have their own business. Others might work in a private organization. Many work in financial investment firms.

2019 Median Pay: $89,850
2019-29 Job Outlook: 4%

Loan Officer

loan officer typically works in banks. Some could work with third party lenders. They usually evaluate loan applications. They may often authorize the lending of money to a person or business. And, they often recommend approval. They may gather data to do this. That includes application info. They may seek out credit scores. Loan officers may work for many types of lenders. This includes banks and credit unions. It may include mortgage companies. Some work in commercial banks.

2019 Median Pay: $63,270
2019-29 Job Outlook: 3%

Securities Officers

securities officer may also be called a financial services agent. These individuals typically work to sell investments. They may work with individuals. Some may work within financial markets. They may deal with commodities. Some might work in financial organizations. Many work in financial investment companies.

2019 Median Pay: $62,270
2019-29 Job Outlook: 4%

Financial Managers

financial manger usually work in investment firms. They may concentrate in stocks and investment strategies. They typically help companies develop financial reports. Also, they might create direct investment goals. Many may develop strategies for building finances for the business. They may work in banks or insurance companies as well.

2019 Median Pay: $129,890
2019-29 Job Outlook: 15%

Certifications

Sometimes, you may benefit from a certification. These show you have specific skills in an area of focus.

Some accounting certificates that may help you include:

  • Certified public bookkeeper
  • (CIA) Certified internal auditor
  • (CPA) Certified public accountant
  • (CMA) Certified management accountant

Some finance specific certificates may help you, such as:

  • (CFF) Certified in financial forensics
  • (CFA) Certified financial analyst
  • (CFE) Certified fraud examiner
  • Certified tax preparer
  • Enrolled agent

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer or guarantee of employment and that may help prepare students to meet the certification requirements of the field they choose to study. Students should check with the appropriate certifying body to make sure the program they apply to will help meet any certification requirements. Students should also consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.

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