What is the Difference Between a Finance Degree and an Accounting Degree?

Two types of business degrees deal with numbers and finances. A business student has a choice between a degree in accounting or a degree in finance. Each degree leads to a separate career. Below is a description of each degree.

Accounting Degree

A degree in accounting leads to expertise in keeping financial records for businesses and government. Basic skills for keeping books are taught such as learning how to document accounts receivable and accounts payable, along with business law, tax law and other business record requirements. Accountants can be trained to do forensic accounting, where the accountant audits the books of a company and looks for any improprieties. Top accountants become certified as a CPA, which requires passing a difficult national test. Accountants can work for a business, government or specialize in a management company.

Accountants deal with the here and now and handle real numbers on a daily basis. They are the first to know the financial health of a company. They are the person who makes recommendations when the company becomes short of cash as a payday approaches. An individual accountant may handle changes for only one large client or several at the same time.

Finance Degree

A degree in finance also involves money, but looks at it from a different angle. Those who have the degree learn how to support clients in the buying and selling of financial investment products such as stocks or bonds. This degree usually leads to a financial counselor position where the graduate concentrates on selling financial products. Another branch of the field involves risk analysis, often as a government employee, where the analyst develops projections of the risk of various investments in the future.

Financial analysts attempt to assist their clients in setting their goals. Their job is to keep up with the latest financial offerings and steer their clients to those that best serve their needs. This type of analyst must know financial law as well to make sure they are not conducting illegal activities such as insider trading.

Similarities between the Two Degrees

There are similarities between these degrees. Both are offered out of the business department and both cover general business law. Both require taking a background in other areas of business, including management, small business, marketing, statistics and some specialty areas such as cost management. Majors in this field must be very good at mathematics and using computer software. They will need to take high level mathematics and statistics in school. This job requires an individual who can work on their own and follow through with long processes or procedures. This degree requires a large number of classes and in some cases can take closer to five years than four years to complete.

Completing either a financial or accounting degree will lead to lifetime, steady employment at a good salary. These skills are always in demand and will succeed in allowing you to obtain an interesting, well-paying position after school.