Should-I-Major-in-Accounting-or-Finance

As a student entering a college or university, deciding upon an undergraduate degree can be a daunting task. And, if you’ve narrowed it down to two majors – accounting or finance – you might be trying to figure out the benefits of both.  Since the two majors aren’t that different, it can be confusing to a new student which major to choose.

So, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each major below to help make your undergraduate choice easier.

Accounting and Finance: The Essentials

Accounting degrees prepare you for a position as an accountant. An accountant builds financial documents and ensures the information they contain is accurate. They might propose recommendations for an individual’s or company’s financial standing. Accountants are also focused on helping individuals and/or companies grown and prosper financially through established accounting principles and processes.  

A degree in finance will set you up to analyze financial statements within a company by assessing and evaluating financial standings while creating strategies to project future financial growth. If you’re financial markets, stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles are of interest to you, then it’s worth contemplating a finance degree.

Accounting and Finance: Typical Undergraduate Courses

Accounting Courses

  • Auditing
  • Budget analysis
  • Business strategy
  • Financial accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Forensic accounting
  • Information systems
  • International accounting
  • Macro/microeconomics
  • Management accounting
  • Professional standards and ethics
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Risk management
  • Tax accounting

Finance Courses

  • Advanced derivatives
  • Asset markets
  • Behavioral finance
  • Corporate finance
  • Economics/econometrics
  • Financial mathematics
  • Financial management
  • Financial markets
  • Financial planning
  • Financial engineering
  • Financial accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • International finance
  • Private equity
  • Risk management
  • Venture capital

Accounting and Finance: Degrees

Accounting

Undergraduate level:

  • Bachelor of Accountancy (BAcc, BAcy or BAccty); Bachelor of Arts in Accounting (BA/ACC); Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSc/ACC)

Graduate level:

  • Master of Accounting (MAcc or Mac); Master of Professional Accounting (MPA, MPAc, MPAcc or MPAcy); Master of Science in Accounting (MSA)

Finance


Undergraduate level:

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

Graduate level:

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


Accounting and Finance: Career Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the forecasted career growth trajectory for both accountants and financial analysts is 10 to 11%  from now until 2026.

It’s important to note that many of the accounting and finance roles for which highest growth is forecast are those in which a specialized postgraduate degree is likely to be a major asset. For instance, continuing with a master’s degree in accounting or obtaining the educational requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will yield better job opportunities, benefits, and salary. Accounting firms are looking for candidates who are CPAs and will run large-scale recruitment campaigns to attract graduates on this career path. Having a CPA or working towards the CPA credential will set you apart from other firm applicants.

Accounting and Finance: Salary

Accountants

Median Pay: $69,350 per year

CPAs

Median Pay: $119,000 per year

Financial Analysts

Median Pay: $84,300 per year

Accounting and Finance: Work Environment

Accountants

Firm or client’s office and/or remotely in any location.

Financial Analysts

Office

Accounting and Finance: Skills Needed

Both the accounting and finance fields require a high level of skill, education and comfort with quantitative analysis. Also, soft skills are incredibly important for both fields as well as having a strong business acumen.

Accounting and Finance: Career Paths

Accounting

  • Accountant (trainee, public, professional and certified)
  • Actuary
  • Auditor
  • Bookkeeper
  • Budget analyst
  • Credit controller
  • Financial consultant
  • Financial examiner
  • Forensic accountant
  • Payroll administrator
  • Risk assessor
  • Tax advisor
  • Treasurer

Accountant with a CPA license

  • Forensic Accountant/FBI Agent
  • Corporate Entertainment Accountant
  • Sports Accountant
  • Environmental Accountant
  • IT Auditor
  • Accounting Consultant
  • International Accountant
  • Accounting Professor

Finance

  • Commercial banker
  • Financial consultant
  • Financial manager
  • Financial trader
  • Hedge fund manager
  • Insurance officer
  • Investment banker
  • Quant specialist


Pros of majoring in Accounting

Accounting majors have a great deal of flexibility, especially since the major covers accounting, business and finance. And, once an accounting student graduates, there are a vast number of options and career paths from which to choose. Accountants have the option to work in both the public and private sectors while working in any industry they choose. Also, if an accountant decides to get their CPA license, they’ll have even more diverse career opportunities, along with higher pay, job security, and a fulfilling career path. An accounting degree allows for many more options.

Pros of majoring in Finance

Finance majors have courses more focused on financial services and consultancy. Finance is a great choice for those students who want to manage current and future financials of a company or organization. Having a degree in finance allows for an, “…added responsibility of predicting and analyzing the potential for profit and growth, assessing monetary resources, utilizing accounting statistics and reports, and also looking externally for future funding options.”

Sources

https://www.salary.com/articles/the-difference-between-finance-and-accounting/

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm

https://smartasset.com/investing/the-difference-between-accounting-and-finance

https://www.topuniversities.com/courses/accounting-finance/accounting-vs-finance-which-should-you-study




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