Finance degrees can be your foot in the door for a career in management consulting, trading, banking, and investments. For people seeking one of these careers, a finance degree is probably worth it.
However, most entry level positions in finance provide average salaries that fall below the pay rate on some other industries like engineering and law. The pay then often rises quickly.
On balance, finance degrees are certainly not useless as they are niched-down enough to prepare you for a specific set of in-demand jobs.
Finance degrees explore financial systems, investments, loans, banking, savings, and monetary policy.
Finance is a discipline that can open the door to a well-paid job in the lucrative financial sector.
However, degrees in this area rarely focus on a single area of finance. Usually, graduates explore a wide range of topics like taxation, statistics, management, and financial analysis.
It is certainly not the hardest major out there, but it still requires a good amount of work to achieve good results. You’ll need strong logical and mathematical skills.
There are myriad careers you can pursue with a degree in finance. In this field, there are three primary categories. These are: corporate, public, and personal. The first step to unlocking that career potential is to get a bachelor’s. But, to further broaden the prospects, additional education is often necessary.
|Job||Description of Job||Average Salary (US) / Annually|
|Financial Planner||The goal of an FP is to provide investment and financial planning advisory services.||$64,690|
|Insurance Agent||Insurance agencies task their agents with managing and selling insurance policies.||$40,129|
|Public Accounting||A public accountant’s main function is to conduct income statements, external audits, quarterly reports, and more.||$69,097|
|Real Estate Agent||Tasked with helping clients rent, sell, or buy properties, real estate agents provide assistance through the whole process of leasing and selling a property.||$48,321|
|Commercial Banking||A commercial banker often manages corporate accounts, facilitates financing, loans, etc.||$93,331|
|Venture Capitalist||VC is a private equity investor that works for corporate entities and invests in potentially lucrative start-ups.||$192,301|
Compared to other quantitative fields like engineering, finance is considered easier to master. It is a good job that can prepare you for a stable long-term job.
But, before you jump all in, take a look at its pros and cons.
All majors have something unique to offer. Finance is a popular choice for those eager to develop financial literacy. With that in mind, here are some of the benefits a degree in finance can offer.
- It is a degree that provides job-ready skills rather than vague skillsets that you sometimes get with a liberal arts style degree.
- What you learn will be applicable both to your professional and personal life.
- It’s a good investment. A bachelor’s degree is enough for a typical entry-level job.
- It provides flexibility to work in a range of the top companies in the world.
- There are a range of possible careers within finance that you can consider, so you’re not locking yourself into any one career just yet.
- It’s generally easier to complete than degrees like law and engineering, although it can pay less.
People who study finance can find themselves in a good career. But, it is important to take a look at the big picture and explore the possible disadvantages as well.
Here are the cons of having a finance degree.
- There’s a lot of math. If you’re not a math minded person, this might not be the career for you.
- There is limited employment growth rate. According to these statistics, the job outlook for personal financial advisors is estimated to grow 5% in the next decade. This is a much slower rate than most other job types.
- Expect long working hours. Depending on where you work, sometimes you have to work a lot more than you planned to. With investment banking, for example, workers usually have to put in extra hours. This can turn into a tedious experience.
- Expect a conservative dress code in your office. This is a suit-and-tie sort of industry. If you are not a fan of conservative clothing, then you may not feel comfortable working in the field.
- It’s behind a computer. While you work with clients, you will also spend a lot of time on computers and no time at all doing physical activities.
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The requirements for finance degrees vary depending upon where you apply. But, if you score under a 3.0 GPA then you’ll find it difficult to land a job in the top-most paid firms in the industry. A good GPA for a major in finance is 3.7. If you score anywhere from 3.0 to 3.5, you may have trouble finding a well-paid job in the field of finance.
The average person with a bachelor’s in finance takes about $73,000 annually. When you take all recipients of a bachelor’s degree into account, then the median pay is a bit lower, reaching roughly $61,000.
Better paid professionals in the field get higher salaries when working with renowned and larger companies. They can make $100,000 within a few years.
Overall, the pay can be good, but it varies a lot depending on what you end up doing. Venture capitalists, stockbrokers, and investment bankers will make the most, but will also be the highest-risk and most stressful.
Nevertheless, this is definitely an industry where you can land a long-term and stable job.
Students can pick different majors based on their personal interests. Choose the option that you feel comfortable with. These are some of the paths you can take.
|Major||Description / Explanation of the Major|
|Analysis of financial statements||The goal is to teach students how to carry out a financial statement analysis to assess the company’s performance.|
|Accounting & statistics||With this major, students study the theory behind accounting and practice the ways in which they can maintain, audit, and create detailed displays of finances.|
|Financial management||This program prepares graduates for a career in corporate financial management, banking, insurance, financial planning, and real estate.|
|Financial markets & institutions||The major is focused on helping graduates understand how vital financial institutions manage their liabilities and assets, among other practical knowledge.|
- Interpersonal skills
- Networking capabilities
- Analytical ability
- Problem-solving capability
- Knowledge of digital tools and financial systems
- Financial reporting
Do Further Research on your Degree Choices:
If you can’t handle the number crunching and you are not passionate about finance, then you might want to look into a different option to major.
But, if you want a finance degree because you enjoy thinking through money matters, then a finance degree might be worth it for you.
Overall, a finance degree is not worthless, as it will provide the foot in the door for a wide range of potentially high-paying jobs. The main thing to keep in mind is that this is a highly mathematical degree with high-stakes and stressful (but also highly paid) jobs out the other end.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.