Students who strong math and problem solving skills and are interested in how the banking system works should consider getting a degree in finance. A finance degree can lead into a lucrative career as a financial analyst or adviser, accountant, or investor, and they may find work in banks, insurance companies, securities firms, and other business organizations. A financial analyst studies financial statements, analyzes sales, costs, expenses, and tax rates to calculated a company's future earnings. To that end, a finance student will have a solid foundation in accounting, investments, management, and financial systems analysis by the time they graduate. They will also develop strong communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with others on larger projects.
Classes and Assignments of a Finance Major
En route to graduating, a finance major may take classes like financial markets and institutions, international finance, valuation and financial decisions, introduction to derivatives, and risk management. These courses provide students plenty of information financial markets, as well as practice in how to analyze them. Classes are lecture-based, and students are graded based on daily assignments, tests, and group projects. The idea is to give students practical experience solving financial issues that their future employer may have. Group projects are meant to foster the ability to communicate and work well with others.
Degree Levels for a Finance Major
- Associate. Online associate finance degrees are great first step to starting your career in the field. In an associate degree program, a student may take basic business courses such as financial management, accounting, principles of management, and business law. Successfully completing these classes enables a student to then pursue a bachelor's degree in finance, which the BLS notes is required to work as a financial analyst. Despite that, a person with an associate degree in finance may still work as a credit analyst or a loan officer.
- Bachelor's. Online bachelors finance degrees enable individuasl to work as financial analysts, personal financial advisers, budget analysts, comptrollers, or cash managers. The BLS indicates that a bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for many of these positions. In a bachelor's program, a student would learn about international and domestic finance, derivatives, capital management, real estate investments, and corporate law.
- Master's. According to the BLS, online masters finance degrees can significantly improve a person's prospects of landing a job within the industry. Finance is offered in either a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science (MS) program. The MBA focuses more on preparing the student for a career in management, so a student may take organizational behavior and marketing management along with investment analysis and international finance management. Meanwhile, the MS prepares a student to be a financial specialist. Whereas the MBA has the ethics, law and management courses, the MS has theory and application of financial derivatives and global financial markets and institutions.
- Doctoral. A Ph.D. in finance is the best option for those looking to teach at the university level. In a doctoral program, a student usually studies the pricing and valuation of financial assets and the decision making of firms and financial intermediaries. Most importantly, a doctoral program gives its students a good grasp of quantitative analysis, financial theory, and a strong ability to analyze and solve problems.
A Future as an Finance Major
The BLS indicates that the overall employment for financial analysts is expected to grow by 20% between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than average. The growth may be because of increasingly international nature of investments and the growth of mutual and hedge funds. The outlook is even better for personal financial advisers, whose employment opportunities are expected to grow by 30%. In May 2008, the median income for a financial analyst was $73,150, and for financial advisers it was $69,050. However, keep in mind that job availability and your actual salary may vary from these averages. Instead, those things depend on your employer, your level of education and experience, the strength of the economy, and your location.