Both accounting and finance play vital roles in the world of business, which makes them very profitable career choices. Financiers and accountants are highly prized college subjects, and also well paid profession, and not just in highly developed countries. All of this makes pursuing a career in these two business sectors a wise decision which will secure your future, but how to choose between the two, seemingly similar, professions? Well, if you are having some doubts about is here is a close-up of both careers that will help you make the final call.
A degree in accounting can open many doors, ranging from specialized accounting careers to other related professions. The work of an accountant usually includes analyzing and using financial information to assess the financial position of some business. The tasks an accountant performs are various, but they almost always involve managing balance sheets, book-keeping and income statements. Decision-making, analytical capabilities, organizational skills and stewardship, all play important roles in accounting.
Accounting careers can be pursued with a bachelor’s degree alone, but postgraduate studies provide a lot of options for specialized knowledge in certain areas and thus open more business opportunities.
If you choose to study accounting, you can specialize in tax, auditing, risk assessment, forensic accounting, management accounting, international accounting, and more. Specializing for a certain sector of accounting enables you to opt for further postgraduate programs at MRes or PhD level.
Finance degree enables you to find an employment in financial services in banking, consulting and business sectors. Due to the fact that finance careers usually focus on the management of the present and the future of an organization, they are commonly more lucrative than accounting careers. However, this also implies the added responsibility of analyzing and predicting the growth and profit potential by using accounting statistics and reports.
Common specializations for those who decide to study finances are financial evaluation, corporate finance, financial modeling, econometrics, behavioral finance, investment management, financial reporting and quantitative finance. Some of these specializations can be studied as subjects at undergraduate level, but some can be thought as independent courses at postgraduate level.
Entry requirements for accounting/finance degree
You don’t have to have any relevant academic qualifications or work experience in order to study accounting or finance. However, you will need to prove you are proficient with numbers through A-level qualifications in high school subjects such as mathematics, economics, business and computer science.
Postgraduate programs are a different thing. They will require you to have completed a related undergraduate program and several years of relevant professional experience. The latter one can be achieved with relevant accounting internships or employments. The same goes for finance sector.
Learning is never over in accounting and finance, and there are always open opportunities for courses and specializations. In order to become a qualified accountant, you need to obtain a professional qualification, such as CIMMA or ACCA. With some postgraduate studies you can be exempt of taking these qualifications.
Career opportunities and salary expectations
Graduates from both of these professions are highly sought-after, and there are no prospects of drastic changes any time soon. The sectors where we can expect the most expansion are consulting services, management, tax preparation, payroll services, etc. Your potential employers are insurance companies, accountancy firms, investment banks and public sector agencies. As for the salaries, finance is a more lucrative route with an average of $71,527 for postgraduate level, comparing to $62,374 for postgraduate accountants. However, accountants with professional accounting qualification complementing their academic degree can earn up to $71,990.
As you see, both of these careers have their advantages and disadvantages, but although many confuse them for similar, or the same, they are both very different in their tasks, graduate and postgraduate programs, as well as career opportunities and salary prospects. If you are having doubts about choosing one of them, the best thing is to consider each aspect of the profession starting from college to retirement.