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Pursuing Accounting with a Finance Degree

Jan 30, 2023

If you hold a degree in finance and are considering the next steps in your career or educational journey, then accounting might be the perfect fit. Because finance and accounting pathways share many similarities in coursework, job responsibilities, and skill set, your finance degree has the versatility to open the door to either a new role in accounting or a master’s degree that leads to a more prominent position with a higher salary.  

Accounting vs. Finance

Accounting is the process of recording the financial transactions of an individual, business, or organization. The accounting process includes performing tasks such as summarizing, analyzing, and reporting these transactions to oversight agencies, regulators, and tax collection entities. 

Accountants collect financial information and put together reports or financial statements that provide an accurate summary of transactions over an accounting period and outline a company’s operations, financial posture, and cash flows. Some of the common accounting job titles include accountant, auditor, bookkeeper, and accounts payable clerk. 

 Finance, on the other hand, is a wider professional field involving ways an individual or organization generates and uses capital. The term also applies to matters involving the management, creation, and study of money and investments. A role in finance involves using credit and debt, securities, and investment to finance current projects with future income flows. These jobs include titles like investment banker, financial analyst, and financial manager. However, a finance degree doesn’t mean you’ll only find work as a finance professional in a role containing the word “finance.”

The main difference between the two fields of finance and accounting is that professionals working in finance typically focus on planning and directing financial transactions for an individual or organization, whereas accounting focuses on the recording and reporting of those transactions. Accounting is a narrower field that uses professional processes to manage numbers and accounts, while finance is wider-ranging and covers an array of specializations in the business, economics, and banking sectors. While top paying industries for accountants include finance and insurance, management of companies and enterprises, tax preparation, and government, accountants can take on finance roles finding work at universities, in hospitality, healthcare, and other fields. 

 Businesses may also employ accounting majors to fill important roles in finance as both careers deal with numbers and data, and have the skill set to summarize financial information and even advise senior management. Professionals in both finance and accounting can apply their knowledge and coursework studies experience to work with clients and organizations in a variety of industries, or can pursue additional certifications, such as their CPA certification, and higher-level degrees including MS in Accounting to advance in their respective careers. 

Accounting Careers to Pursue with a Finance Degree

If you’re interested in learning about accounting careers that you can pursue with a finance bachelor’s degree, take a look at some examples of the varied job titles to consider: 

  • Tax preparer
  • Bookkeeper
  • Assistant director of finance
  • Personal accountant
  • City treasurer
  • Accounting coordinator

Professionals in some of these positions will need to be a certified public accountant (CPA), have accounting experience, or hold a master’s degree in accounting to satisfy the education requirements. Finance professionals seeking higher-paying management-level roles will often want to pursue their master's in accounting to stand out in the job market.

Deciding between an Accounting and Finance Master’s Degree

If you are curious about transitioning into an accounting role with a potentially higher salary, then it is important to consider your short- and long-term goals, your strengths and skill set, and how a master’s in accounting could shape your career.  

An accounting degree offers students a more linear path toward becoming an accountant as they learn ways to help organizations meet standards and follow laws and develop some of the soft skills needed to succeed, including communication, analytical and problem-solving, and organizational skills. Accounting tends to be more process-oriented and may be a stronger fit for individuals focused on a company’s current financial operations rather than where the financial markets go.  

For individuals looking for opportunities to change careers in the future, a finance degree can provide greater flexibility. In addition to the degree you already hold, a master’s-level finance degree often includes courses that are more evaluative and analytical than accounting courses. Finance is a dynamic and fast-paced field, and students and professionals explore jobs that are in-demand and offer high earning potential. This type of degree is a great choice for students interested in math, economics, investment, and entrepreneurship. 

Choosing between a finance degree and an accounting degree boils down to personal preference and priorities. Both programs, however, give students and professionals great opportunities to develop strong skills needed to succeed. 

Starting Your Accounting Career 

You can begin building your accounting career by exploring some of the accounting jobs listed above. Learning about the various career fields in accounting will offer a look into the types of environments and specializations open to students and professionals and how these align with their skills and abilities. 

A finance degree and the  Master of Accounting degree from WGU offer a solid foundation for growth in the dynamic financial industry. Students working toward their accounting degree will learn the tools and skills to stand out from the competition with knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), ledgers, journal entries, and more. The WGU Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree program is designed to prepare you for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, meeting the required hours needed to sit for the CPA exam in most states. 

If you’re looking for greater access to new job opportunities, higher salaries, and the chance to experience greater job fulfillment, WGU’s affordable degree programs can help you reach your goals. Focused on the application of skills and knowledge in traditional finance practice, as well as on emerging trends and technologies, WGU’s finance degree program and its flexible course style prepares you to become an in-demand professional. 

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