Finance majors study topics related to money and capital, what businesses do to invest money and how they raise or earn money; a big part of this has to do with learning about and understanding the financial markets. Accounting majors learn methods of reporting and summarizing financial data that tell the story of what a business or a person does with the money they have -- where it comes from and where it goes.
Finance is a major suited for students who want to have a business career surrounding money. Those who major in finance qualify for jobs as financial managers, financial analysts and financial planners, investment bankers and corporate financial officers. They study for a minimum of four years in college and may seek post graduate degrees, such as a Master of Finance, or M.Fin, or an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with a concentration in Finance. Courses in statistics, technology, ethics and mathematics are part of a Finance degree, as well as developing and using problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Accounting is a specialized field within the broader Finance major. Those with an accounting degree can find jobs as an accountant or auditor. There are several specialties within the general field of accounting, including governmental accounting, public accounting and tax accounting. Depending on the state, an accounting major can take the exam to become a Certified Public Accountant -- CPA -- after 120 or 150 hours of coursework and some work experience in the accounting field.
Those who are organized, have strong analytical and technical skills and have a love for numbers are likely to do well as finance or accounting majors. Though the courses taken by students majoring in accounting are not all the same as those taken by finance majors, both will likely take courses in economics, finance and management.
Accounting focuses on the details when evaluating finances, so the coursework would include things such as auditing, estate planning, income tax and bookkeeping. The accountant wants to know the who, what, where and why as it relates to the financial state of the business. The finance major focuses on techniques that lead to a growth in capital, behavior in organizations, management and marketing -- they are the financial gurus for the upper management in their respective corporation and are often relied upon to guide the financial decision-making process of the business.
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