So you’ve heard about how business degrees, particularly in math-heavy areas like accounting or finance, can be valuable in the job market, and you’ve decided you’re interested in pursuing one. But there are, of course, a few things to confirm before going all in, and the most important of these is knowing exactly what sort of jobs this degree might lead to. If you get a medical degree, you know you’ll be a doctor, and law degree usually leads to a career as a lawyer, but what jobs can accounting and finance degrees lead to? Here’s just a few:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: a degree in accounting can easily land you a job as an accountant. Accountants typically come in two varieties, with the first being government or corporate accountants, who usually work in a department in an office building handling the money for a company or government agency, while the second is public accountants, who may own their own firm or work at another independent accounting firm. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is part of the requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant, which is the necessary certification to offer accounting services to the public at large. The certification also requires passage of a test, some graduate-level education (although a full master’s is not required), and a few years of work experience. CPAs generally see higher pay as a result of earning the certification, so it’s typically well worth the extra effort. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for accountants was $71,550 per year in May 2019.
Financial analysts help both people and companies to handle their investments. They might manage portfolios, mutual funds, or even assess the risk in investments. The first step towards this career is—you guessed it—earning a degree in finance, although accounting or economics could work just as well. Like with accountants, it’s possible to earn additional certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst, which can increase pay and allow for higher jobs with greater responsibilities. Becoming a CFA usually requires a bachelor’s degree, four years of experience, and passage of three different certifying exams. The median salary for financial analysts was $85,660 per year as of May 2018, according to the latest data from the BLS.
Finance is more than just handling cash—a key aspect is determining the risk involved in investments, and insurance is, essentially, the business of analyzing risk. Insurance underwriters normally need to have a bachelor’s degree, and education in finance and economics to really succeed. They provide assessments of individuals seeking insurance on themselves or property they own, helping companies decide whether to offer to insure them. They also determine what kind of premiums might need to be paid, as well as the kinds of coverage that can be made available, such as covering homes in hurricane zones or flood plains. Underwriting is the kind of career where steady advancement comes with experience, so a fledgling underwriter typically operates under the guidance of a more senior, licensed underwriter. The median salary for insurance underwriters was $70,020 per year in May 2019, as reported by BLS.
Loan officers put their education in finance and accounting to use providing loans to businesses and people. They meet with applicants and interview them about their intent with the loan, as well as review their financial history to ensure they are trustworthy enough to offer a loan to. Loan officers also help to explain the terms of the loan, options, etc. to borrowers, enabling them to understand what they are agreeing to. While loans can be for many purposes, mortgage loans do require a license to handle. Earning a Mortgage Loan Originator license takes at least twenty hours of dedicated coursework, then passage of an exam on this content, and submission to background and credit checks. The median salary for loan officers was $63,270 per year in May 2019, according to the BLS.
There are many more career options available to you with a degree in finance or accounting, as well as higher positions which these jobs may someday lead to. Overall, careers that put finance and accounting degrees to work pay fairly well and have options such as certification which can raise that pay even higher. If financial security is something that’s important to you in a career, then these degrees will make for an excellent choice.