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Is a Finance Degree Difficult?

Finance degrees are generally considered to be challenging. In a program like this, students gain exposure to new concepts, from financial lingo to mathematical problems, so there can be a learning curve. While finance requires careful precision, accuracy, and aptitude, it’s also one of the most lucrative career options. Professionals who hold a degree in finance often work as investment bankers, financial analysts, financial examiners, portfolio managers, and financial planners. 

Finance professionals are in high demand, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 17% growth rate for the career, or 71,300 new job openings each year, between 2020 and 2030. If you have an aptitude for math, want to learn new skills in accounting and economics, and hope to end up in a high-paying, secure career, then keep reading to learn if a finance degree is right for you. 

Types of Financial Degrees

There are different levels of finance degrees: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. The degree that’s right for you is first and foremost dependent on your education level. For example, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree before you’re eligible to enroll in a master’s program. 

There are also different areas of study that will lead you to a finance career. A degree specifically studying finance is one obvious route. However, students who graduate with degrees in business management or accounting also go on to have successful careers in finance.

Bachelor's Degrees 

A bachelor’s degree is an important first step in your finance career. There are a few equally valuable, finance-focused routes you can take to get there. Here are some options and what might be best for your interests and career goals: 

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting: Students in this program learn how to read and analyze financial records, evaluate risks, and abide by tax laws. You'll also learn the basic principles and theories of accounting and gain practical experience preparing financial documents. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in finance: Finance majors learn financial analysis, financial reporting, and investment strategy. You’ll also take classes in statistics, economics, and business to forge your analytical and critical thinking skills. 
  • Bachelor’s degree in business management: In this degree, you'll learn about managing resources like personnel, finances, and physical elements, as well as processes and procedures, strategies, and more. You'll gain a working knowledge of other business disciplines like marketing, human resources, accounting, and finance.

Master's Degrees 

A master’s degree is a great option for a professional who has just finished their bachelor’s degree or has been working in the finance field for a few years and wants to deepen their knowledge and become eligible for more advanced, higher-paying positions. A master’s degree could also be a potential option for professionals who earned a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and want to make a career change to finance. As with a bachelor’s degree, you can choose your area of focus in your master’s degree program: 

  • Master’s degree in accounting: In a master of accounting program, particularly ambitious students will gain up-to-date knowledge, specialized skills, and professional credentials that can make a big difference in their career. This is the degree that will set you apart from the pack.
  • Master’s degree in finance: This degree takes an even deeper dive into your concentration of finance, with classes like financial theory, math, quantitative finance, investing, markets, financial reporting/analysis, as well as valuation. Getting a master of finance degree will fast-track you to managerial roles in your field.
  • Master’s degree in business management: Getting a master in management degree means you see yourself as a leader in the world of business. This degree focuses on giving you expert skills in marketing, accounting, finance, and strategy as well as important soft skills like communication and leadership.
  • Master’s degree in business administration (MBA): A master of business administration degree gives you the platform you need to advance your career in business and finance. You’ll learn about managing human capital, global economics, and data-driven decision making that will help you accelerate your career goals. 

Benefits of Getting a Financial Degree

A degree in finance or a related field opens many doors for determined professionals. In addition to high salary and great job security, the benefits of this academic path include:

  • Mastering financial skills that prepare you for real-world responsibilities.
  • Working for a range of employers across different industries and sectors.
  • Becoming prepared to earn the professional certifications necessary for a successful finance career.
  • Setting yourself up for a rewarding career.
  • Entering a field expected to experience stable growth for years to come. 

Why Is Finance Considered Difficult?

Every college degree has its unique challenges. It’s a two- to four-year commitment that requires a lot of time and focus. Finance degree programs are mainly built around courses in economics and accounting, so students who are most successful usually have an interest in and aptitude for accounting, mathematics, and general finance concepts. Students must also find ways to stay on track and avoid procrastination even when the coursework presents challenges. 

Unlike in social and human sciences, careers in the financial field often require professional certifications, so the information that you learn in your degree is specifically tailored to helping you earn those certifications. This is another reason finance degrees are considered to be difficult.

Desired Finance Skills After Getting a Degree

Once you finish your degree, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge and skills necessary to lead a successful finance career. In your job search post-graduation, it’s important to highlight the strengths that employers find attractive. The qualities and skills that will help you stand out against your competition and get competitive jobs include:

  • Building a rich network: While earning your degree and throughout your career, you should focus on developing and nurturing relationships with organizations, colleagues, and individual clients.
  • Calculating debt repayment schedules: This involves determining a repayment plan for loan clients. A major aspect of financial services involves money lending and investments, so it’s important to have a strong grasp of these practices.
  • Estimating and managing financial risk: Finance professionals calculate risk in order to inform smart investment decisions. While risk is impossible to avoid completely, you must learn and develop smart strategies in order to be successful in this field.
  • Implementing cash management strategies: Finance professionals are trusted by companies big and small to manage their working capital, which is why you’ll need to have effective strategies in portfolio management. 
  • Applying legislative, regulatory, and industry principles to financial scenarios: Regulations are in place to protect consumers and investors and to ensure that the economy remains stable. You must have a strong command over these rules in order to operate legally within the corporate finance system.
  • Assessing client and organizational financial status using interview and data-gathering skills: Financial decisions are largely data-driven, but a truly excellent financial professional is able to weigh qualitative factors to develop strategic financial planning for an organization.

Bachelor’s vs. Master’s Degree in Finance: How to Choose?

There are a variety of degrees you can pursue if you’re interested in a career in finance. The level that is appropriate for you—bachelor’s or master’s degree—depends on your current education level and career goals. If you have a high school diploma, then you should pursue a bachelor’s degree next. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as mathematics or economics, then you can earn your master’s degree in accounting, finance, or business management. If your bachelor’s degree is in an unrelated subject, you may want to consider pursuing a second bachelor’s degree to nail down the basics of finance. 

No matter which of these scenarios applies to you, WGU offers flexible, online degree programs designed with input from industry experts to help you become a top-notch finance professional. Your first step to a career in finance is just an application away. 

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