Accounting vs Finance: Career ROI

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Updated: February 22, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

Accounting vs Finance - featured image

With the competitive labor market in the corporate world and ballooning university tuition, students are struggling to decide on which majors offer better ROIs. Accounting and finance are two of the most competitive majors obtained by those in the corporate industry. 

Accounting vs Finance - fact

As closely related programs, Accounting and Finance utilize the same fundamental and complex tools and are anchored on the same principles. However, they serve distinct purposes and have different career outcomes. Finance offers a broader view, leading to roles like financial analyst and planner.

On the other hand, accounting focuses on practical work like preparing taxes, advising business owners about tax shelters, and preparing weekly payroll reports.

What is Accounting?

What is Accounting - Image

Accounting is known as “the language of business.” It is a multidisciplinary subject, drawing on topics from other fields like law, statistics, information technology, and economics.

Students who pursue this major will know business processes such as storing financial information, analyzing economic trends, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.

Earning an Accounting degree equips students with skills in accounting, auditing, financial statements, and bookkeeping principles. Accredited programs prepare students for certifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) after completing required course hours and exams.

Accounting Specializations

A major in accounting offers three main specializations: 

Education Requirements for Accounting Professionals

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level accounting jobs. However, if you want to pursue higher-level roles and take on more job responsibilities for higher pay, you should obtain a CPA title with at least a Master’s of Accounting degree.

The CPA, which requires 150 postsecondary credits, is beneficial for those who want to work in managerial positions. Meanwhile, CPAs who wish to teach in universities should earn a Ph.D. in Accounting.

Accounting Popular Career Paths

Accountants and Auditors earn an average of $78,000 annually. The employment market in this field is expected to grow up to 4% between 2022 and 2032, or 126,500 estimated yearly job openings. 

Due to its multidisciplinary nature, an Accounting degree leads to high-paying job positions. Some of the most popular accounting careers for bachelor’s degree graduates include:

On the other hand, students with a master’s degree and a CPA title can pursue higher-level roles, such as:

A growing number of accountants are pursuing jobs they can do from home. This work arrangement is possible after obtaining the essential credentials, licenses, and certifications required for independent, work-from-home accounting jobs.

Is Accounting the Right Path For You?

An Accounting Career Is For You If:

An Accounting Career Is Not A Great Fit if:

What is Finance?

What is Finance - Image

The finance major is best suited for students who want to gain a broader focus on the business industry. Unlike accounting, where students are trained to assist organizations and individuals with their specific, day-to-day financial demands, finance majors will receive training to help companies make sound financial decisions that can spur expansion.

Finance has various subfields that give students more chances to align their studies with their interests, including Quantitative Finance, Mathematical Finance, and Computational Finance. Typically, students who enroll in Finance programs gain the abilities for entry-level jobs.

Graduate programs in Finance qualify you for high-level positions in financial analysis, management, investing, financial planning, and ethics. 

What’s Your Finance Focus of Study?

Finance majors have two main career prospects:

Education Requirements for Finance Professionals

Similar to accounting careers, Finance requires a bachelor’s degree for entry-level prospects. dealing with financial markets, financial securities, and financial economics.

Representing the highest academic credential in the sector, A PhD in Finance and a DBA in Finance involves comprehensive mathematical, financial, and economic research. Doctorate of Finance programs produce the most qualified researchers, economists, CFOs, and professors.

Finance Popular Career Paths

Finance graduates are in high demand because their skills and expertise are required to help businesses expand their operations and increase profitability. Finance professionals earn an average pay of $96,220 per year and are expected to grow 8% between 2022 and 2032. Finance majors can find employment in industries like banking, investing, and insurance.

Finance careers you can pursue with only a bachelor’s degree: 

Master’s in finance holders can pursue higher-level roles, such as:

A Finance Career Is For You If:

A Finance Career Is Not A Great Fit if:

Key Differences: Accounting vs Finance

Accounting Finance
Skills Required * Account reconciliation
* Balance sheets
* Budgeting
* Financial reporting
* Financial statements
* Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
* Budgeting
* Customer service
* Economics
* Financial modeling
* Financial planning
* Financial reporting
* Financial statements
* Product management
Best Fit ForIndividuals who want routine work and focus on practical work tasks.Individuals who want to help businesses grow. 
Job Responsibilities Monitor and assess a company’s finances. Organize and allocate an individual’s or company’s resources, taking care of things like financing distribution and expense monitoring.
Typical Employers * Banks
* Charities
* Commercial and corporate organizations
* Governmental bodies
* Private accountancy firms
* Professional services firms
* Banks
* Corporations
* Insurance companies
* Investment banks
* Wealth or asset management firms
Average Salaries$78,000$96,220

Challenges within the Accounting and Finance Fields

Challenges within the Accounting and Finance Fields - Image

The global economic landscape is vastly changing and becoming more competitive to break into. While these industries are no strangers to change and challenge, the current landscape presents a unique combination of regulatory complexity, technological disruption, cybersecurity threats, and economic uncertainty for incoming professionals. 

We aim to help you prepare yourself for either field by listing the top hurdles and obstacles that professionals in accounting and finance encounter. 

The top issues in Accounting include:

In Finance, professionals struggle with:

Today, everyone is reliant on technology, which has resulted in increased cases of cyberattacks within financial institutions. The sector is at serious risk from cybersecurity risks like ransomware attacks and data leaks.

Safeguarding client information and financial resources is crucial, so finance professionals today are encouraged to take cybersecurity courses to improve security measures. 

Additional Resources:

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