A finance major will study areas such as investments, corporate financing issues, financial institutions and a variety of related topics. Depending on your university's curriculum, your studies will likely have a level of overlap into areas like accounting and economics. In short you will gain insights into how money works.
As someone who holds an undergraduate degree in finance, I was very interested in this topic when assigned by my editor here at TheStreet. My personal career path led me to earn an MBA degree, work in a number of corporate financial and accounting positions, switch careers to become a financial adviser to individuals and retirement plans, then switch careers again to focus on financial writing.
Here are some career options for those with a finance degree.
What You Can Do With a Finance Degree:
Banking has long been a destination for those majoring in finance. Many larger banks offer training programs for new grads providing them with exposure to various areas of banking such as lending, personal banking and others. Smaller banks might hire a new grad directly into a specific role. Note that some larger money center banks might require an MBA, though many will offer tuition reimbursement for those who wish to earn one on the job.
Businesses of all types need financial analysts to help analyze the financial results at the business unit, product and corporate level. Financial analysts might support a product group or business unit, or they might work at the corporate level. Financial analysts review results against budgets or business plans. Financial analysts work in the for-profit and non-profit sectors, including government, where they might be called budget analysts.
A finance major is an excellent background for a business teacher in a high school or other setting. The study of finance provides a grounding in most areas of business. In order to teach at the high school level, you will likely need to obtain a teaching certification, these requirements will vary by state.
Financial or Business Journalist
Finance provides a great educational foundation for those interested in business or finance journalism. Your degree in finance provides you with a basic knowledge of business and finance from which to build a base of knowledge. Of course, an interest in writing and a natural curiosity are great attributes for this career path.
Finance and accounting are closely related in that accounting and financial statement data is used frequently in financial analysis. Some finance curriculums may include a number of credit hours in accounting, this will vary by school and program.
Within the accounting arena there are a number of career paths, including management accounting, governmental and non-profit account as well as the public accounting arena. A finance major can provide an excellent way to launch your career in accounting. Depending upon the path you choose to take, you might require some additional course work and might consider obtaining your CPA certificate.
A finance degree provides an excellent foundation for those who wish to pursue a career as a personal financial planner, helping individuals and their families plan their financial futures. This entails areas such as insurance, estate planning, tax planning, investing, retirement planning, college savings and many more.
Some universities offer a separate curriculum in financial planning which can lead to eligibility to sit for the CFP exam upon graduation. A degree in finance will provide graduates with a great deal of knowledge that could be applied to a career in this area.
A degree in finance can be a great background to work as an investment adviser. These positions can be with institutions such as banks, money managers or investment managers. The education in aspects of finance such as the how the markets work, the workings of investments like stocks and bonds and other areas provides a solid groundwork from which to launch a career as an investment adviser.
Many positions of this type may require an advanced degree and/or a certification such as the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).
Investment analysts work for a variety of firms, including mutual fund companies, other types of investment management firms such as those offering separate accounts to institutional investors, large institutions such as endowments and public pension funds, brokerage firms, banks and a host of others.
Investment analysts might focus on analyzing stocks within a sector, the markets in general or other types of securities.
A finance degree provides an excellent foundation for a career as an investment analyst. Again, this is a career path that often requires an advanced degree and often the CFA designation.
A finance degree can be a solid foundation for those aspiring to become an attorney. The analytical thinking required in finance transfers well to the legal profession. The combination of a finance degree along with a law degree can be very beneficial for attorneys practicing in areas involving business transactions, divorce and, of course, securities law.
To become a licensed attorney, finance graduates will need to earn a law degree and be admitted to the bar in the state(s) in which they which to practice.
Actuaries work with insurance companies and other businesses that need sophisticated statistical analysis. Insurance companies are major users of actuaries who calculate the probability of events such as death, disasters and disability that can trigger the payment of insurance benefits.
Actuaries might also work in marketing-related companies to help marketing executives forecast product demand or other areas requiring intense statistical analysis.
Finance is one of a number of undergraduate majors that dovetail well into a career as an actuary. In order to become fully certified as an actuary, you will need to take a number of courses in preparation for a series of exams.
These are just a few of the career paths available to those with a finance degree. The combination of a finance degree and your ambitions can take you in many directions over the course of your working life.
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