If you’re wondering if a finance degree is worth it, chances are you’re doing your homework before you make the commitment. Good idea.
Earning a degree is a big investment — one that takes time, effort, and money. So it’s always best to do some research before taking the plunge.
A finance degree can seem glamorous, with all the Hollywood movies about Wall Street. But majoring in finance is a huge commitment and there are important issues to consider before diving in.
So, is a finance major worth it? Let’s go over everything you need to know before committing to a finance degree.
How Much Money Can You Earn in Finance?
Let’s get real. The issue of income is a very important one and a huge deciding factor for many people when making a decision about what degree and career to pursue. So let’s see what salaries are like according to the different positions in the finance market.
Average salaries in finance
Did you know that the average salary for a finance major in the US is $60,000? Apparently, it’s one of the top most valuable college degrees with high entry-level wages outside of the tech world. That’s not bad at all! And for those living in the UK, the average salary is £46,735. Reed is a website that has all the finance jobs and their salaries as well as number of jobs in the UK.
Payscale can show you average salaries for all jobs in almost any country. Wherever you live, you can find out what the finance job salaries are like in your country. They include minimum, maximum, and average wages. So it’s a valuable website to check out!
What about starting salary?
According to Study.com, the average starting salary for finance majors is very dependant on the position and the employer. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that the average starting salary for finance majors was $55,400 in 2014.
What are common finance jobs and how much can you earn?
Here’s a list of 5 common finance jobs and their respective average salaries (in US dollars), according to Payscale:
- Financial Analyst – $55,170
- Business Consultant – $72,755
- Financial Advisor – $55,500
- Finance Manager – $87, 508
- Product Manager – $64,031
Glassdoor is another great site that lets you not just search for jobs, but also see how much they pay. It’s worth checking them out too.
What’s the Job Market Like?
Another important thing to consider before choosing a degree is the job market in the career that you are interested in. The expected salaries may be appealing, but what if the jobs are hard to come by? It’s always a good idea to do some research and see what the market is like. Here are some things to think about:
The different finance jobs available
The finance world is vast and has many different careers within it. According to Investopedia, once you get into the finance arena, there’s lots of room to progress and find your specialization. Some of the most common jobs that a finance degree can get you are: Treasurer, Financial Adviser, Financial Analyst, Auditor, Budget Analyst, Loan Officer, Buyer, Accountants, Collectors, Bank Tellers. Those are just ten. There are many more. So basically, a finance degree can offer you a lot of options!
Is it a competitive market?
The answer to this question depends on the certain finance job in question. Investopedia has a list of the top four most competitive financial careers, which are Controllers, Tax Managers, Accountants, and Analysts. Apparently, financial employers look less at your educational background and more at your real-world experience. So that means that the more you work in finance, the more experience you gain, and eventually the more valuable you will become to a potential employer. Like in most careers, you almost never start in your dream job. Climbing up the ladder is a big part of building a career and the financial world is no different.
The good news is that considering how vast the job market is with all the available financial jobs, finding a job doesn’t seem like it would be a problem. You’ll just need to be realistic and patient. But at least the starting salaries are high!
Opportunities to work abroad or to start your own business
Nowadays, with almost everything going global, there are more opportunities to work abroad. More companies are investing in outsourcing, meaning they hire people from abroad to provide their financial services. According to Investopedia, the finance jobs are no longer only in New York and London. Rather, they are moving to all the countries that have growth potential, like Asia, India, and the Middle East.
Remember, you must have a working permit to work overseas. It’s not always easy and may take time. But for the right position, it is definitely worth looking into!
Not only is working abroad an advantage for finance majors, but so is starting your own business. If you have the entrepreneurial drive in you, a finance degree can be an advantage. Learning about money and how to work with money is highly beneficial for starting and owning your own business. Think about it: businesses exist in order to make money! So learning about money seems like a good fit, doesn’t it?
Looking for work
We definitely recommend checking out job sites and see which finance job interests you most and what’s being offered out there. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed are just two out of many job search sites to look at.
What Education Is Needed? Is a BA Enough?
The issue of credentials is needless to say a relevant one. Yes, you are considering a degree in finance. But which degree is mandatory? And do you need to continue on to do a masters? These are some questions (and answers) to help you figure it out.
Is a BA mandatory?
It’s probably not going to come as a shock to you that a BA or undergraduate degree is the minimum requirement to get a job in the financial field. But a finance degree isn’t the only degree to choose from. There are also degrees in business, accounting, management, and economics. And it might help you to know that a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting are very similar in their courses, at least in the beginning. And remember, most colleges give you the option to change your major within a certain amount of time. So if you decide to change routes, it’s possible.
There are options, however, that are more directed to specific careers. For instance, accounting, banking, financial services (financial and investment banking), wealth management, financial planning, bookkeeping, taxes, and treasury are all financial industries that have specialized courses.
Do you need a masters?
Continuing your education is always going to benefit you and the career you are looking to progress in. For example if you want that Wall Street kind of career, you’re going to need an MBA.
What about the costs?
For some people the prospect of getting one seems like a distant dream due to the high costs. There are solutions to this, the University of the People offers a tuition-free MBA program which costs substantial less than traditional universities and the fact it is online makes it flexible to work while you study. This is a terrific option for those who want to get ahead in the finance industry and may not have the spare cash to pay for tuition. Keep your day job and get an MBA part-time!
As a general rule of thumb, always look online for the job you want and see what qualifications are listed as requirements. It’s the best way to get real and up-to-date answers.
What Is the Real Day-to-day Life in a Finance Career?
Sometimes people overlook the reality of a job. And more often than not, the job title is a little bit deceiving and even fancier than it really is. It doesn’t always represent the day-to-day reality of the work entailed. Let’s take a look at some popular finance jobs and what their daily tasks are like.
Real job descriptions and daily tasks
Of course, every job has its own description and duties. But we can show you what the real-life work is for a few common finance jobs. For example, are you interested in being a Financial Analyst? Here’s a look into a day in the life of a Financial Analyst, which turns out to be a long one. How about the daily life of an accountant? There’s an interview with an Accountant who talks about what a real day looks like in his job. And if you’re wondering what a Financial Planner does all day, take a look into one professional’s daily work.
We recommend that you search online for the job you’re interested in and type in “a day in the life of…”. You’d be surprised how much information is out there. The world is at your fingertips!
Some cool finance jobs you may have never heard about!
Did you know that you can become a Green Accountant? There is a whole branch of environmental accounting that may not be at the top of the list of most common finance careers, but it is definitely an interesting and relevant one today. Some other interesting finance careers include: Entertainment Accountant, CIA Economic Analyst, and FBI Forensic Accountant. Sounds pretty cool!
What’s Better: a Finance Degree or an Accounting Degree?
There are certain majors that are similar to each other, and it’s worth looking into what the difference between them is. Sometimes a degree that’s related to what you want is actually more suited to you thank you might have thought. And wouldn’t it be a shame to not know about it and potentially miss out on a better option? It also might even be possible to take a joint accounting and finance degree, but this depends on the college you register to.
What’s the difference between accounting and finance degrees?
The bottom line is that accounting is quite narrow and finance is more versatile, with careers spanning different industries like business, economics, and banking. Aside from career potential, there’s a difference in course content, qualifications, and skills gained.
Top Universities put together an in-depth comparison of both finance and accounting degrees. If you’re debating between the two, check it out and see what is more appealing to you.
If you’re wondering which degree offers a better salary, they happen to be quite comparable. Finance majors have only a slightly higher starting salary ($55,609) than accounting majors ($54,838). So maybe the issue of salary won’t be much of a deciding factor there.
Do You Need to Be a Math Wizard to Learn Finance?
Finance and math seem to go hand in hand. But does that mean that you have to be a math wizard to succeed in a finance job? What if math isn’t your strong point? Does this mean that you can’t pursue a career in finance? It’s normal to have these thoughts and it’s good to ask these kind of questions before you get into it.
Believe it or not, mastery of advanced math skills is not necessary to have a career in finance. With today’s technology, all math-related tasks can be done by computers and calculators. That said, there are some basic math skills that would certainly make you a better candidate in the finance industry. And considering how competitive the job market can be sometimes, the more skills you have the better, math included.
Some of the main math-related skills that the financial industry requires are: mental arithmetic (“fast math”), algebra, trigonometry, and statistics and probability. A basic understanding of these skills should be good enough and can qualify you for most finance jobs.
Helpful Qualities and Skills to Have in the Finance World
Certain careers are well suited to certain personality types. Just as some careers are not a good fit to certain personalities. But don’t worry, not all skills come naturally. You can always learn new skills or improve on rusty ones. So, what skills are good to have to succeed in finance?
According to Monster.ca, there are a number of skills that employers in the finance industry look for. Soft skills like organization, multi-tasking, problem-solving, and communication are valuable to employers. In management positions, for instance, skills such as attention to detail, leadership, and confidentiality are highly valued. For accountants, a report from 2016 stated that a few skills were considered “important” or “extremely important”, such as communication (88% of employers), problem-solving (84% of employers), and time-management (84% of employers).
Soft skills can be learned and practiced. Working on these skills can be done at your current job, or in your studies. You can also volunteer at an organization or take a class. The point is that soft skills are highly valued and are definitely possible to improve on. And think about it this way: if you have all the other credentials, working on your soft skills should be a piece of cake. And it’s free!
So there you go. Everything you need to know to help you make the decision of whether or not to earn a finance degree. We hope it was helpful and gave you some insights. And from the looks of it, a degree in finance does seem worth it. There are lots of opportunities from the get-go as well as throughout your career, and the salaries are relatively high. If you’re up for the challenge, we’re sure you’ll succeed. Good luck!