Should you get a degree in Accounting? Or a degree in Finance? These two professions tend to work together, but there are plenty of differences between these two common business degrees. What exactly makes them different? We can help break it down.
Accounting is narrow.
Accounting is all about details — numbers, maintaining financial records, and auditing are all involved. An accounting professional handles many manual and administrative tasks in order to manage cash flow for a company.
Finance is broad.
Finance is all about the big picture — things like acquisitions and global markets. The world of finance explores the management of monetary resources, banking, credit, leverage, and investments. With a Finance degree you will be learning about topics that will prepare you to make broad economic decisions.
What do you learn in accounting?
The majority of Accounting courses deal with recording business transactions and communicating financial information.
Accounting is all process-oriented, so you will learn the importance of understanding assets, liabilities, and equities from all your courses.
What do you learn in finance?
Even though similar skills are needed for both programs and some content overlaps, there is a difference between finance and accounting coursework.
Finance courses revolve around financial management, financial modeling, investments, and how economic factors can affect the future of your company. And most importantly, you will learn to make strategic investment decisions.
What do you need to know before getting a degree?
To study accounting or finance at an undergraduate level, you will not be expected to have relevant work experience; however, you will be required to prove A-level qualifications in related STEM subjects such as business, mathematics, economics, computer science, and other sciences and technologies. Extracurricular activities such as involvement in a math or business club may also be taken into account.
Which path works best for you?
Both accounting and finance deal with money, involve the recording of financial transactions, require critical thinking skills, and incorporate information technology to help small businesses and major corporations track and organize financial information. But knowing how much job growth is expected and the average salary can sway your decision from one profession to another.
Keep reading to find out the different career paths one of these degrees could take someone.
Accounting vs. finance career differences
With an Accounting degree, you can take on any of these roles:
1. Certified Public Accountant
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) performs auditing, consulting, taxation services, and more.
An auditor ensures that financial records are accurate and comply with laws and regulations.
3. Accounts payable specialist
An accounts payable specialist handles invoices, purchase orders, check requests, and other financial transactions on behalf of a company or organization.
4. Tax accountant
Using their knowledge of tax laws, a tax accountant ensures the accurate calculations of income tax payments and refunds.
This specialized type of accounting involves the use of an accountant’s auditing and investigative skills to detect corporate fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and other white-collar crimes.
With a Bachelor in Finance degree, you can take on any of these roles:
1. Financial analyst
A financial analyst combines research on economic conditions to come up with recommendations for key business decisions.
2. Financial trader
A financial trader buys and sells securities on behalf of investors.
3. Budget analyst
A budget analyst helps organizations keep track of their spending.
4. Financial manager
A financial manager is responsible for supervising the financial activities of an organization.
5. Personal financial advisor
A personal financial advisor assesses a client’s assets, liabilities, income, and expenses and creates a tailored financial plan for them.
Accounting vs finance salary differences
How much can you make with an Accounting degree?
The median salary for accountants and auditors in the United States is $71,500. The highest salaries in the sector are $124,450. The lowest are $44,480. These numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are 1,436,100 accounting jobs at this time. Over the next 10 years, the sector will add 61,700 new jobs, which comes out to 4 percent growth. That is average when considering the growth rates of all jobs. Even though the growth rate is slightly slower than that of finance jobs, the sheer number of jobs is greater, providing better opportunities for landing a job in the accounting field.
How much can you make with a Finance degree?
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for this job is $81,590 annually. The lowest salary for financial analysts was $47,230, and the highest was $156,150.
The job growth is slated to be 5 percent over the next 10 years, which is higher than the average growth for all other jobs. Currently, there are 487,800 jobs. With a growth rate of 5 percent, that means that the sector will add more than 26,000 jobs during the next 10 years.
No matter which path you choose, both fields require a high level of skill and education, and each occupation can yield a promising future for motivated professionals.