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What is the difference between finance and accounting? Is one more favorable in the job market?

Stuck between Accounting and Finance, I cannot tell the difference between these two majors after visiting so many different websites. All the websites state that both would deal with budgeting and analysis. I am now wondering what are the main differences between an accounting and finance major. Which has a higher chance of employment? #college-major #finance #accounting #job-market #choosing-a-major

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Seth Daniel’s Answer

Accounting is the precise application of established practices and policies to arrive at specific, quantitative inputs to the measures that comprise "an accounting" of a company's financial performance. Finance requires knowledge of accounting practices, but also includes working on strategic projects like raising capital or debt for a company, or developing strategies to finance an organization's plan for growth. At the entry level, there is more abstraction and ambiguity to how to accomplish things in Finance, while accounting work is often more prescribed. However, both fields become exceedingly complex at the highest levels, and you should expose yourself to both to determine which suits your skills and interest the most.

With respect to employment, there are probably more entry level jobs for "accountants" than "financial analysts" for bachelor's level college graduates. However, because both fields become very complex at a more advanced level, there are excellent opportunities in either field should you gain meaningful experience and continue your education. I recommend that you stay true to yourself, and pursue whichever interests you more. Students I have worked with who major in accounting often like the precision necessary to provide highly accurate data and reporting that helps corporate executives determine the financial health of their enterprises. My experience as a college career counselor is that students majoring in Finance benefit from a willingness to seek more training via graduate school, and often want to apply a bit more creativity and "strategic license" to their work than might be available in accounting which is more concrete and governed by established practices and policies. Both fields are equally important in business, it's really a matter of whether you are more of an abstract thinker (Finance) or concrete thinker (Accounting). But there is enough overlap that you will do well in either field with the ability to think critically and apply sound reasoning to the problems you solve.

Both fields becomes very strategic and offer room for strategic thinking and creativity as you advance to higher levels of practice. Consider taking a balance of finance and accounting courses, and then decide which you are more interested in...this will often be the field where your strengths are greater. I do advise heading for a post-bachelor's degree in Finance or Business Administration if you choose the Finance option. Accounting may be a more job-friendly field for those not pursuing an advanced degree, but there are certainly advanced academic degrees in Accounting as well as the CPA designation to strive for. Great question, and thanks for asking!

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Rose’s Answer

You probably don't need to worry about choosing a very specific career path as an undergrad. Finance and accounting share many core educational requirements and a degree in either would suffice for most entry level jobs in the general field.

Personally, I started with a degree in Business Administration, concentrating in Accounting. For about five years, I worked in private industry as an accountant/supervisor. Then, without realizing it, I began my descent into financial planning and analysis (FP&A) with a job as a Financial Analyst. Along the way, I received an MBA in Finance/Strategic Management, then became a licensed CPA, and most recently earned an FP&A certification. I think it is quite common to start with accounting and move toward finance as you gain experience in business, but it doesn't usually go the other way.

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Lisa’s Answer

I work in Financial Accounting for Disney Controllership - ESPN and they support staff experiencing both areas. So take a mix of courses in both areas and work for a large company that allows you to rotate thru both areas. I enjoy the blend of both analytical financial work vs pure accounting. But you need to work in both areas to make a good decision. I am more creative and enjoy finance a bit more. Good luck, great career choice either way!

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Ann’s Answer


In my opinion you have more opportunities with an Accounting degree versus Finance. However it really depends what type of work you want to do after graduation. For example, I work in public accounting and 95% of our hires are accounting majors. We do hire finance majors but the number are much smaller.

Ann recommends the following next steps:

Think about your career path and what opportunities are available. I would start with your career services. How many and which companies hire from your school for each major.