Making the Right Choice: Finance vs Accounting

Making the Right Choice: Finance vs. Accounting

If you enjoy working with numbers, you may have heard that a business degree is a smart move. But with so many different types of business pathways — including several related to managing money like finance and accounting — it can be hard to figure out which is right for you.

You may ask yourself which path to take: accounting or finance? Both finance and accounting paths are similar in nature and are both excellent options for people with an aptitude for math.

What, then, is the difference between accounting and finance? The answer is pretty simple — people in accounting look at numbers to make sense of the past, whereas those in finance look at numbers to make sense of the future.

What is finance?

Finance involves the broad management and study of all things related to money and investments. In the corporate world, that means addressing funding, capital structure, and maximizing shareholder value, while personal finance encompasses things like retirement planning and saving.

What is accounting?

Accounting refers to the recording, organizing, and understanding of information around money. Accounting looks closely at budgets and plans for cash flow, understanding in minute detail where money comes in and where it goes out.

Finance vs. Accounting Degree: Similarities

If math has always been your favorite subject, you’re in luck. In both finance and accounting, you’ll deal with numbers and data across similar jobs. In both careers, you’ll make statements and reach solutions about money. You’ll work in a professional environment with a range of clients and organizations across industries. Further, both majors have versatility, and you have the opportunity to explore all kinds of potential jobs based on your goals and interests.

Finance vs. Accounting Degree: Differences

When it comes to finance versus accounting, your coursework for these degrees will be a bit different. With a finance degree, you can expect to take both micro and macroeconomics, operations management, and banking courses. With an accounting degree, you may take courses related to personal and business taxes, fraud auditing, and managerial accounting.

As for your career, your day-to-day responsibilities with an accounting degree versus a finance degree could be quite different. Accountants tend to analyze the flows of money on a day-to-day basis, recording and reporting what has already happened and whether it has followed the law, regulation, and business standards. Finance, on the other hand, is more future-focused, considering how, what, when, and why money will be spent.

A Career in Finance: An Inside Look

Some of the jobs you may be eligible for with a finance degree include:

  • Financial analyst
  • Financial advisor
  • Portfolio manager
  • Investment analyst
  • Trust officer
  • Chief financial officer
  • Underwriter
  • Credit analyst
  • Appraiser
  • Actuary

In 2019, the median starting salary for finance majors across a range of job titles was $57,750.

A Career in Accounting: Opportunities with Your Associate Degree

Some of the jobs you may be eligible for with an associate degree in accounting include:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Tax preparer
  • Accounting associate
  • Payroll clerk
  • Accounting technician
  • Auditing clerk
  • Accounts receivable/payable

An associate degree in accounting is a great stepping stone for furthering your education with a bachelor’s degree or more, and gets you closer to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

In 2021, the median starting salary for individuals with an associate degree in accounting across a range of job titles was $45,560.

Which is Better: Accounting or Finance?

It all depends on what you enjoy. Take a closer look at some of the career paths of both accounting and finance degree jobs. Write down what excites you about each one, or make a pros/cons list and compare. Additionally, you can:

  • Browse through the courses to see which sound the most interesting.
  • Look for seasoned professionals in both accounting and finance and have a candid conversation with them about their career satisfaction.
  • Have a chat with trusted friends, family, or a career counselor or advisor.

Ultimately, the career path you choose will depend on how interested you are in the areas associated with the positions. But if you realize you like one subject area better than the other, you may be able to get the best of both worlds — in many businesses, accounting professionals and financial managers often deal with both the past and future aspects of an organization’s finances, becoming proficient in both.

Why Choose UC Online for my Degree Completion?

Create your dream career path at University of Cincinnati Online. At UC Online, we have flexible programs of the same quality and integrity as traditional courses, but give you the freedom to complete them wherever you please. Additionally, you’ll have:

  • One-on-one support. From beginning to end, we’ll help you through every step of applying and be on call to answer your questions.
  • Premier higher learning. UC Online is considered a premier research and higher learning institution, and our fully-remote degrees reflect that.
  • Access to a nationally renowned faculty. Our staff is some of the best and the brightest — serving on national boards and published in the fields they teach.

Take the next step in your career with our flexible programs, and make an academic path that suits your lifestyle and career goals. Take a closer look at the details of UC Online’s finance degree and UC Online’s accounting degree, and feel free to send us a request for more information.

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