There’s no doubt that those with a finance degree have plenty of options when it comes to careers. There are many different work environments that are in need of finance professionals, from the private sector to government agencies to banking institutions and everything in between. The roles they fill are varied, including the management and analysis of things like investments, financial planning, risk assessment, credit, loans, and the list goes on.
Difference Between Accounting and Finance
Although we hear about these two terms often in the same sentence they aren’t interchangeable. There is a big difference. According to Johnson & Wales professor and online instructor Randy Kemnitz who specializes in personal finance, the two fields cover vastly different areas. “On a personal level, accounting tends to be focused on filing tax returns and the like,” he explained. “Personal financial planning is tax planning and retirement, estate, risk and investment planning. Personal financial planning is a much broader discipline, accounting is narrow but deep.”
Accounting is generally more geared towards financial reports and the documentation of transactions. At times, the term “accounting” is used to describe bookkeeping activities. On the other hand, finance is focused on managing money for an individual or businesses. It’s less about reporting and documentation activities.
Education Requirements for Careers in Finance
Even for entry-level jobs in the finance arena, a bachelor’s degree in finance is often a must. However, to advance your finance career, a master's degree in finance or other certifications, such as a CPA, CFA, or CFP, may be required. At JWU our MS–Finance prepares our students for these certifications. “Our personal financial planning program in our MS-Finance area meets the educational requirements to sit for the CFP exam,” Kemnitz explained.
Career Paths for Finance Degree Holders
Speaking of CFPs and other finance fields, there is a wealth of career opportunities and paths for finance majors to explore. These opportunities are vast and provide finance undergraduates with plenty of options once they graduate. Entry-level positions are plentiful in all of these fields. Below, we will go over some of the most common finance career options.
1. Financial Planner
Do you like to help people? You can make a huge impact on someone’s life as a Financial Planner. A Financial Planner is one that meets with their clients to help guide them on what to do to achieve their financial goals for the future. They are responsible for mapping out an actual plan on how to achieve future financial goals. It’s their role to monitor and adjust the financial plan as necessary. You will find them often making recommendations and providing you with choices along the way. They often strategize on goals and assist with investment choices. As a Financial Planner, they stay updated on market trends and the latest industry information. A good Financial Planner will give you ongoing advice and act as a trusted advisor for years to come. Fee structures are varied depending on the company. Salaries are attractive as $87,850 is the median pay for this career path.
2. Financial Analyst
A career as a Financial Analyst can have great earning potential and benefits. In a nutshell, Financial Analysts will predict outcomes of business decisions for organizations. They do this by taking financial data and creating models that offer a glimpse of what the future may hold. This role within an organization is not only critical to the business but it’s also highly data-driven. They often recommend investment options to their clients and write financial reports explaining their analysis. This career is one that is in demand and quite competitive. Median pay is $81,590 for this career. Finance graduates, those with degrees in the field, are often the perfect candidates for the job.
3. Investment Banking
Investment banking has many different facets and is not a single position. There are different specialties within the umbrella of investment banking. In general, Investment Bankers are responsible for managing money on behalf of a client or employer. Their goal is to maximize profit as a result of effective management. They use a variety of investment options such as bonds and stocks. Investment Bankers have a daily life of reviewing financial data and creating financial models to predict outcomes. Managing risk is a primary goal of Investment Bankers in any setting whether it’s a private equity firm, corporation, or other organization. There are a lot of opportunities despite it’s competitive landscape. It’s worth exploring this lucrative career as an Investment Banker. According to salaries listed on Glassdoor.com, professionals in this field earn $86,643 on average.
4. Commercial Banking
Are you inquisitive and analytical? Communication and math skills are key critical too. Working as a Commercial Banker might be a great choice for you. A commercial banking professional can provide financial advice such as offering different credit products as options to businesses. Examples could include fixed income products, lines of credit, and cash management services. Relationship building with corporate clients is a large part of this career choice. Establishing trust is important to managing corporate banking accounts, investment option recommendations, and executing loans. An average salary is right around $96,000 for a Commercial Banker according to Payscale.com.
5. Public Accounting
Public Accountants are professionals who provide services in an array of work environments. Clients can range from businesses to individuals to government institutions. Public Accountants can provide tax services, accounting, auditing, financial planning services, or business consulting. Average salaries for this profession are approximately $67,510.
6. Credit Analyst
A Credit Analyst specializes in credit data and will assess the risk of lending money to clients. They look at loan applications, credit history, financial statements and more to determine the risk. They work with organizations to verify data as necessary. Also, they need to be able to work with clients to verify their history. $51,583 is the average salary for a Credit Analyst.
Mathematics and statistics need to be top strengths for an Actuary. Actuaries are definitely needed and in high demand. They measure and manage risk with their thorough understanding and knowledge of key areas of finance. Actuaries assist business leaders in making crucial decisions about their organizations that will certainly affect their financial future. Median salary is approximately $108,000 for an Actuary.
8. Loan Officer
A career as a Loan Officer can prove to be quite lucrative. It’s also rewarding in the sense that you are helping others with possibly the biggest purchase in their life. Relationship building and customer service skills rank high for this job. You will be working with loan applicants and helping them throughout the intricate and sometimes stressful process. Loan Officers will likely be involved in paperwork but their interaction with clients proves to be super important. The average salary for this profession is $48,088, according to PayScale.com, but remember that this profession involves commission so the earning potential can be quite high with good performance.
Ready for a Career in Finance?
Get started with your bachelor’s degree in finance or your master’s degree in finance online with JWU Online. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].