Should You Major in Finance or Accounting?

When it comes to figuring out a major, both finance and accounting are excellent options. They have many similarities that make graduates from both disciplines a natural fit for many top job opportunities in a variety of different industries. When pursuing a degree, however, it can be tough to have to make a choice between the two. Here are a few helpful things to keep in mind when thinking about majoring in finance or accounting.

Differences

The difference between an accounting major and finance major are subtle, yet important. While the specifications of each major tend to differ from school to school, the main difference between finance and accounting is that finance focuses on money management (usually involving larger, unwieldy sums) while accounting covers a broader spectrum of accruing, organizing, and ordering money, usually in a business context. Again, when it comes to majoring in each subject, each school has its own criteria. For instance, pursuing Maryville’s master of science in accounting might involve a different set of classes and prerequisites from a similar program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Crossover

Finance and accounting, along with management and economics, have a lot of crossover. Many jobs in accounting involve finance aspects and vice versa. Both deal with quantitative and analytical skill and both involve an understanding of the broader financial climate at home and abroad. Both finance and accounting work together form the backbone of much larger, successful companies around the world. When it comes to learning about money, having some knowledge of both subjects can be extremely helpful. Because of the natural crossover that occurs between majors, many schools offer a double major of accounting and finance. If you’re interested in pursuing a double major, seek out schools that offer this opportunity.

Job Opportunities

In terms of jobs, accounting offers more traditional options. An accounting degree can open the door for a career as an auditor, a risk assessor, a tax advisor, a credit controller, or a budget analyst, among many other options. A degree in finance can lead to a career as an investment banker, a quant specialist, a hedge fund manager, a wealth advisor, or a financial consultant. In short, finance major prepares students for jobs that deal with forward-looking money management and investments in order to grow a person or business’s finances, while accounting jobs focus on distributing and keeping track of money that an individual or company has already amassed.

Salary

The starting salary amount for specific jobs is one of the only distinct differences between the two career paths, with finance having a very slight leg up. At the postgraduate level, a typical salary for an accounting job starts at about 62,000, while the standard postgraduate salary for a job in finance starts at 71,000, a nearly ten thousand dollar a year difference. At the graduate level, the figures are closer together, with accounting bringing in about 51,000 a year and finance coming in at 52,000.