Top 4 Differences Between Finance and Accounting Degrees

If you’re considering starting a career in business, you may be wondering what the difference is between a finance vs accounting degree. While the two both have strong mathematical components and multiple business applications, there are some key differences to note. Which field you decide to go into could depend on understanding the differences between the two and deciding which one is better suited to your strengths and talents. To find out more about the top four factors that distinguish accounting and finance degrees, read on.

1. Career Goals

While they may sound similar, finance and accounting are quite different fields. Finance, for instance, focuses more on managing money to produce positive results in the future, whereas accounting handles already existing financial information. This means that each path will prepare you for a different career. If you study accounting, you could be looking at a career in auditing, forensic accounting, government work and related areas. On the other hand, if your degree is in finance, you’ll be better suited for careers in personal financial advising, risk analysis, portfolio management and more.

2. Coursework

Because the two fields are aimed at preparing students for different professions, the coursework you’ll take in each degree is distinct. This is reflected in the material you’ll study. For example, in an accounting degree, you’ll likely take some classes in taxation, statistics, business administration and accounting theory. In a finance degree, on the other hand, you’ll study various aspects of financial analysis, which could include corporate finance, international trade, risk management and more. Before deciding which path you want to pursue, it’s a good idea to take a look at the courses you’ll have to take to see which set sounds more interesting to you.

3. Skill Sets

While both accounting and finance require you to have strong mathematical and analytical skills, there are some differences in the skill sets you’ll acquire studying either of these fields. In accounting, for instance, you’ll gain not only general business knowledge but also specific quantitative skills and accounting principles. In finance, on the other hand, you’ll learn more about investing, statistical data and business analysis.

4. Certifications

One common career goal for many accountants is to attain Certified Public Accountant certification. Passing the challenging CPA exam is solid proof of your knowledge and expertise and can open a whole new world of job opportunities for you. In finance, on the other hand, there is not one dominating certification, but rather a range of certifications that you could achieve to demonstrate mastery and expand your career options. Some of these certifications include being a Certified Financial Planner, a Financial Risk Manager or a Chartered Financial Analyst.

While both finance and accounting degrees are great options for anyone looking to start a career in business and can lay the foundation for a bright professional future, there are some key differences to note. Now that you know more about what makes each of these degrees unique, you have the knowledge to decide which path is the best choice for you!




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Philosopher, writer, bad-pun maker and enjoyer of novelty. I enjoy bikes, video games, and beer all at the same time. When it comes to reading, I can and do.

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