More than just number crunching and market watching, the field of finance offers a wide range of unique positions across a huge variety of industries. If you’ve always wanted to get into finance and weren’t sure how to get started, you might wonder “Is a degree in finance worth it?”
For many, it is. Studying it at the college level is a good idea — most employers look for candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree, even for their entry-level employees. And while getting your foot in the door is a good reason to go for a degree in finance, there are a lot of others, too. Here we’ll break down some of those reasons and hit on a few of the biggest advantages to going after a finance degree.
1. Finance Degrees Offer Diverse Options
Finance careers can run the gamut from pure mathematics and economics to more creative and personality-driven roles. And, while finance is narrower than, say, a broad business degree, it still offers plenty of room to find a niche. Graduates with a degree in finance can pursue positions in financial planning, banking or financial management, both in the government and the private sector.
Finance degree programs have diversified to help students prepare for those roles, offering further opportunities to specialize. For instance, if you’re in a typical bachelor’s program in finance, you might have the option to concentrate your degree in wealth management, investment analysis, financial services, corporate finance, and more.
2. Finance Degrees Offer More Than Just Finance
In the old days, finance degrees were a bit on the dry side, only offering courses in economics, financial planning and market analysis. All of these topics are important for finance professionals, to be sure. Equally important, though, are the unquantifiable skills it takes to be a success in the business including emotional intelligence, real leadership, and managing people. Most finance programs these days offer students plenty of opportunities to develop those skills, whether through classroom work, mock projects with other students, or externship opportunities that place them in real-world situations.
These programs also help you hone your skills in analysis, problem-solving, relationship-building, and decision-making. And, since technology is such a huge part of the business, many programs include coursework in how to use the latest tech.
3. Finance Degrees Boost Your Own Finances, Too
Getting a degree in finance won’t just help you manage other people’s money better, it can also help you stay on top of yours. Finance degree programs offer instruction in topics like the principles of accounting, portfolio management, personal financial planning and equity research, all of which can help you stay fiscally sound in your personal life. You’ll know how to handle those everyday financial decisions better, you’ll be able to budget your lifestyle and you’ll understand how to invest wisely. And, ultimately, you’ll be able to understand how to grow your own wealth.
4. Finance Careers Are High-Paying
Compared to most other professions, careers in the financial sector pay quite well, even for entry-level positions. For instance, personal financial advisors, who help people decide what to do with their money, make a median salary of $87,850 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Budget analysts, who help organizations make and follow efficient budgets, clear $76,540 annually, while financial analysts and financial examiners, who help individuals and businesses make sound investments, both pull down a median salary of around $81,000.
Overall, professionals in business and finance occupations make a healthy median annual salary of $69,820, as per the BLS. That’s close to double the median salary for all occupations across the U.S., which stands at $39,810.
|Career||Median Annual Salary (2019)*|
|Personal Financial Advisor||$87,850|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
5. Finance Degree Graduates Are in High Demand
Not only is the pay typically better, but expertise in finance is highly valued and jobs in the field are expected to grow over the next decade, according to data from the BLS. While most professions in finance are projected to grow faster than the national average of 5%, some are primed to explode. Among the top are financial managers, who may see an increase of 16% in new jobs, and market research analysts, where growth is expected to hit 20% between 2018 and 2028. Here are some common jobs in the financial sector along with their predicted rate of growth.
|Career||Projected Growth (2018-2028)*|
|Personal Financial Advisor||7%|
|Market Research Analyst||20%|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
6. Finance Degrees Are Online
Many degrees are available online these days but finance degrees are a more natural fit for the online format than most. That’s because much of the learning can be done virtually unlike, say, teaching or nursing. Why is it important that online degrees are ubiquitous in the field? Because getting an online degree is typically cheaper and more flexible.
Online students don’t pay for on-campus expenses like facilities fees, room, and board; they usually pay a flat rate per credit that they take and, over the course of a degree program, those savings can add up to thousands.
Online degrees can be asynchronous, too, meaning you get to absorb materials, complete assignments, and interact with classmates when it’s most convenient for you, whether that’s in the early morning hours or late at night. For finance professionals, that added flexibility can allow them to work while they go to school.
At the end of the day, only you can decide if studying finance is worth the time commitment, the financial investment and the effort. If you love the idea of helping people build their wealth or being the financial wizard who makes the company operate more efficiently and stay in the black, studying finance may be the perfect fit.