In a nutshell: No matter where get your finance degree, these are the concepts you should expect to encounter and the skills you’ll need to work on. 

If you’re a numbers person, a career in finance might excite you. But, first, you need to earn a finance degree. Finance can be described as the management of money for companies and governments, especially using investments and other financial instruments. It usually attracts ambitious prospects because earning potential can be based on commission and its advancement opportunities are based on performance. A successful career in finance requires decisiveness, quick action and commitment to produce – a certain “hustle” if you will. See below to learn more about how earning a finance degree will prepare you for a fruitful finance career.

Concepts You’ll Learn

Throughout your courses, you’ll learn about financial principles and how they can be applied to the operation of organizations. After this broad introduction to finance, classes will focus on topics such as financial analysis, financial strategy, financial planning, capital markets and investments, capital management and budgeting. Some of the concepts you’ll learn include:

  • How financial managers contribute to making major operational decisions
  • The purpose and components of financial markets
  • The time value of money
  • The use of present value and future value
  • The intrinsic values of bonds, preferred stocks and common stocks
  • The analysis of financial statements and why it’s important both to the firm and to outside investors
  • The relationship between risk and return
  • The purpose of efficient cash management
  • Key factors involved in formulating a firm’s credit policy
  • How to determine the optimal level of current assets
  • The major discounted cash flow methods, including internal rate of return and net present value

Skills You’ll Hone

You’ll gain technical skills through your finance coursework, like using a financial calculator and performing finance functions in Excel. These will be necessary to operate at any level in a finance career. And your finance education will also arm you with soft skills, including communication, analysis, decision-making and problem-solving. Here’s why they’re important:

  • Communication: You’ll be able to analyze the numbers and extract meaning from them that others wouldn’t. A finance professional must be able to communicate this information to executives and non-finance folks in an understandable, easily digestible manner.
  • Analysis: The basis of a finance career is reliant on you being able to carefully analyze all of the information you’re given (numbers and operational principles) and come to accurate conclusions about what’s behind the books.
  • Decision-making: The finances will tell a certain story about the organization, and when it comes to operational changes or investment ideas, higher-ups will expect you to express what an ideal course of action may be.
  • Problem-solving: Finance is no longer just about crunching the numbers. It’s viewed as a strategic business function that requires professionals to make actionable recommendations to solve organizational issues.

Career Opportunities You’ll Have

With a finance degree, career opportunities include financial analyst, stockbroker, financial planner, credit analyst, financial manager and actuary, to name a few. Depending on your education level, industry and geographic location, job outlook and salary may vary. But, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial analysts typically enter the role with a bachelor’s degree and earned a median pay in 2017 of $84,300 per year. The job outlook for financial analysts from 2016 to 2026 is growing faster than the average of all careers, at a rate of 11%. For financial managers, entry-level education is also a bachelor’s degree and five or more years of experience in a business or financial occupation. Median pay in 2017 was $125,080 and the job outlook from 2016 to 2026 is growing much faster than the average of all careers, at 19%.

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