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Accounting Vs. Finance: What’s the Difference?

Accounting Vs. Finance


Students and job seekers exploring a path in the financial services industry may find that college degree requirements in accounting and finance appear to overlap.

Furthermore, job postings may be found for either field in some of the same organizations, businesses, and government agencies. However, each role necessitates training and skills separate from the other. Knowing the difference between these two similar fields will ensure you choose what’s best for your career and/or college path.

Here are a few specific differences you need to know about accounting versus finance:

1. The Job Requirements are Different

The role of an accountant includes maintaining financial records and reporting a company’s finances through financial statements. Additionally, they’re most often charged with preparing and filing tax documents for individuals and companies alike while overseeing the financial well-being of an organization.

In contrast, financial managers and advisors oversee an organization’s assets and liabilities while searching for ways for the company to reach its financial goals. While accountants may handle your income tax filings, it’s financial services managers who you will want to see for your retirement needs.

Financial managers are also investment professionals and stockbrokers who typically have a client list that they service for investment needs and building a financial portfolio.

2. The Educational Requirements and Skills are Unique to Each Field

When it comes to choosing the most ideal degree program, those wanting to enter the financial services industry have plenty of options at their disposal. While pursuing a bachelor’s of accounting, students will notice the curriculums of accountancy and finance are similar.

Students pursuing a finance degree will find that accounting classes are required, whereas an accounting major will be enrolled in finance courses as well. Accounting careers usually require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs, but the path toward earning a certified public accountant designation requires 150 additional education credits.

Meanwhile, finance managers generally meet entry-level job requirements with a bachelor’s degree in finance. While both fields have their own unique skills and job requirements, being detail-oriented, having keen analytical abilities, and possessing superior communication skills are imperative for success.

3. The Careers Paths for Each Field Vary

Those interested in pursuing jobs in accounting and finance may wonder what career paths are available. Career paths for accounting and finance distinguish what makes the two fields different. When examining job opportunities, the roles of each field are defined according to the requirements that each position entails. To better understand the differences, here are a few examples of careers for accounting and finance:

  • Certified Public Accountant: CPAs are licensed in the states where they work and maintain an organization’s financial records, including tax returns.
  • Forensic Accountant: This specialty in accounting involves investigating financial documents for illegal activity such as tax fraud or embezzlement. Some forensic accountants work for law enforcement agencies and may become expert witnesses during trials.
  • Management Accountant: Accountants may work in management roles, where their primary responsibility is analyzing financial documents and providing financial reports (budgets and expenses) for business managers.
  • Fund Manager: Finance majors may work as fund managers, where they oversee an investment portfolio through focused investment strategies.
  • Risk Analyst: These finance specialists are often called risk managers and help measure an organization’s financial risk, thereby applying strategies to overcome any financial catastrophe.
  • Portfolio Manager: Referred to as investment managers, these finance professionals analyze market performance for their clients and apply investment strategies to maximize returns.

Decide Which Career Path is Right for You

Accounting and finance both offer parallel post-secondary curriculums to give you a thorough exposure to the financial services industry. Better yet, both fields offer solid entry-level salaries — and the projected growth for finance and accounting jobs is steady, with an 11% increase through 2024.

Regardless of which career path you choose to pursue, make sure to research the education requirements, job opportunities, and salary expectations for each sector. Additionally, determine your inherent strengths and weaknesses, and, most importantly, what you think you would enjoy most out of each career. With a little research, you’ll be more confident in your decision-making and well on your way to choosing the best career path for you.


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