Is a Finance Degree for You?
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If you excel in math and enjoy working with numbers, you may want to consider studying finance, an evolving field of business that requires a great deal of critical thinking and problem solving. Finance majors will learn how to help businesses and organizations make money by budgeting, investing wisely, raising funds and making other important financial decisions. They will study financial management, financial markets and institutions, business law, financial statement analysis and corporate finance. Finance programs also focus on strengthening communication and leadership skills, which play an important role in the relationship with your clients. Finance majors closely study the economy and stock market to stay abreast of trends and practice making investment decisions. Depending on the program, students may have the option of choosing a specialization within the field, including investment analysis, corporate finance, real estate or international finance. Finance programs provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge needed for various careers in business finance, banking, financial planning, trading, retail brokerage, and mergers and acquisitions.
Advice for Earning Your Finance Degree Online
Many students decide to earn their finance degree and take advantage of the market's need for skilled accountants, financial analysts, investors and commercial bankers. Online finance degrees are credible alternatives to traditional campus degrees thanks to their focus on quality education and independent study. As the number of accredited online finance degree programs has risen, the degrees have become more widely accepted and respected by employers in the field. Students enrolled in online finance programs can benefit from completing an internship or summer job in an area of finance that interests them. Not only will this give them hands-on experience and valuable training, but it may be the ticket to securing a job after graduation.
Most finance programs require students to take a range of math, economics and communications classes before taking any finance and concentration courses. Students typically begin their finance classes during their sophomore or junior year, during which time they take accounting, financial management, business law, marketing, statistics, investments and financial statements analysis. These courses promote leadership, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will be needed in finance careers.
Common Career Paths
Finance graduates are eligible to work in a variety of fields. Common careers include (but are not limited to):
- Financial Analyst: Financial analysts guide their clients or companies in investing their funds in areas such as commodities trading or stocks and bonds. A financial analyst can help a company or an individual assess overall value based on stock prices, sales, tax rates, cost and other factors that help analysts predict future earnings. Financial analysts work for investment banks, credit unions, insurance companies, securities firms and other financial corporations that pay specific attention to investment trends.
Employment of financial analysts is expected to expand 23 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median salary was $74,350 in 2010.
- Loan Officer: Loan officers help clients navigate the sometimes complicated process of applying for and taking out a loan, whether for commercial purposes or to buy a house or car. Once a client submits an application, the loan officer checks out his or her background, credit history, source of revenue and assets to help assess approval. Loan officers typically work for commercial banks and credit unions, as well as mortgage companies.
Employment of loan officers is projected to grow 14 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $56,490 in 2010.
- Financial Manager: Like a financial analyst, a financial manager handles a company or organization's money. However, financial managers also keep track of financial data and manage funds using both long- and short-term strategies. In addition to taking on general duties, financial managers can also take on specific roles, such as that of treasurer, comptroller, risk and insurance manager or credit manager. To successfully handle these responsibilities, financial managers usually earn a bachelor's and then go on to specialize within the field by earning a graduate degree.
Employment of financial managers is forecast to increase 9 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $103,910 in 2010.