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Finance Major Overview

Majoring in finance teaches you a lot – from financial planning to investing to budgeting. These handy skills, in addition to the mathematical principles you learn from your classes, prepare you for a wide variety of situations and career possibilities. So, if you want to learn how to help businesses (and yourself) make and keep money, a finance major might be a good option for you!

Keep on reading to learn the basics of a finance major, including what coursework is expected, jobs you can get with a degree in finance, and how to know if finance is the right major for you.

What is a finance major?

Simply put, majoring in finance is about learning how to make businesses money. As a finance major, however, you’ll learn to look at the bigger picture. This includes asking if a company will be successful many years down the line. Students who study finance will be equipped to answer such questions. They will learn how to predict the movements of the stock market and utilize a company’s financial history to create a long-term financial plan. Some graduates give investment advice to individuals and companies alike.

While this may sound similar to business or accounting, finance sets itself apart. Finance offers students a broader span of knowledge which includes banking, economics, and financial markets. Students learn about topics outside the field of business, expanding their knowledge of communications and psychology as well. All of this helps them predict consumers’ actions.

See Also: Top accounting scholarships

Coursework to expect

As they learn about a wide variety of fields and subjects, it’s not surprising to know that finance majors also take a wide range of courses. So, students can expect to not only take economics classes, but also business law, ethics, case studies, and marketing classes (in addition to a few social science, literature, and language ones!). To give you a general idea, here are some courses students may take:

  • Bonds
  • Corporate Finance
  • Econometrics
  • Economics
  • Financial Reporting
  • Investments
  • Statistics
  • Monetary Institutions and Policy
  • Accounting
  • Communications
  • Psychology

And, if there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t listed here, don’t worry – this is not a full list of finance courses by any means. However, if you’re interested in studying finance in addition to another field, you might want to consider picking up a minor. As finance majors are typically not allowed to minor in another business field, possible minors may include communications, psychology, foreign language, or political science (or any other topic you’d like!).

Opportunities after graduation

In the business world, finance majors are highly sought-after, having been educated and trained on how to help both small and large businesses thrive. This opens them up to a wide variety of job opportunities, from insurance managers to financial analysts. This is not nearly the extent of the jobs they can secure, however. Here are just a few of the many professions finance majors can pursue post-graduation:

  • Financial manager
  • Financial examiner
  • Personal finance advisor
  • Financial consultant
  • Broker
  • Investment banker
  • Financial planners
  • Hedge fund manager

We know that all these may seem limited to the business world; that is largely because those who go into finance typically intend on pursuing a career in a business or finance-related field. So, although it is not necessarily impossible to pursue something outside of the business world after graduating with a degree in finance, it may be a little difficult due to how uncommon it is. So, if you do not plan or intend on working in business, finance, or a similar field, we might suggest that you reconsider majoring in finance. However, if you’re still interested in finance as a field, consider picking it up as a minor! 

See Also: How to Pick a Major

Jobs you can get with a finance degree

So, we now know that finance majors have many career opportunities after graduation, but how much can they make exactly? While it’s hard to give an exact number as each job is unique with a job description and salary of its own, we can give you a few examples of finance careers to give you a general idea of how much you may make post-graduation (with data straight from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Let’s get into it!

1. Financial Analyst

As suggested by the name, financial analysts study and analyze current and historical business, economic, and financial trends and data in order to help businesses and individuals make smart financial decisions and make a profit. To help such people make these choices, they create written reports, graphs, and other visual representations of data to show how different financial decisions may pan out. The majority of financial analysts have a bachelor’s degree before going into the profession.

2020 Median Pay: $83,660 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 5% (faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Financial Examiner

Financial examiners work closely with financial institutions that handle monetary transactions, such as banks. Not only do they monitor the conditions of such institutions, but they also review their balance sheets, expenses, and loan documentation. This information is then used to create reports detailing their “safety” as an institution. They also familiarize themselves with laws and policies, making sure that the institutions they monitor are abiding by new regulations and policies. Bachelor’s degrees are typically required to become a financial examiner, and many have previously taken some courses in accounting.

2020 Median Pay: $81,430 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 7% (faster than average) 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Management Analysts

Like many other jobs in finance, management analysts recommend ways that businesses can improve. They are, however, unique in that they focus specifically on how companies can increase their efficiency. Gathering and analyzing data on finances, revenue, and other related measures, they use this information to develop and recommend solutions to problems or new systems to help solve them. To become a management analyst, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree and some years of related work experience.

2020 Median Pay: $87,660 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 11% (much faster than average) 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help companies, working with them to create a budget for the company and help managers find alternative plans if projected results seem unsatisfactory. After creating such budgets, budget analysts continue to monitor a company’s spending, making sure that they don’t go over their budget. They also look to the future, estimating future financial needs and letting managers know about the availability of funds. The majority of budget analysts have a bachelor’s degree and have taken courses in accounting, economics, and statistics.

2020 Median Pay: $78,970
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 3% (as fast as average) 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Also read: Top majors for the future

Frequently asked questions 

Are finance degrees in demand?

Yes! Those who graduate with a degree in finance should have no trouble finding a job post-graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job prospects for many finance jobs are on the rise. While the job outlook for financial analysts is projected to grow 5% (faster than average) between 2019 and 2029, it is expected to grow 7% for financial examiners in that same time span. In fact, according to a University of Tampa accounting professor, there are not enough finance graduates to supply the amount of finance jobs in the area. So, even if you’re not quite sure what you want to do yet, there’s little need to worry about your future career prospects as a finance major!

How do I know if finance is right for me?

Great question! Before you go on to helping companies make decisions, you have to make one yourself – should you major in finance? Here’s a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding:

  • Are you curious about business, finance, and investing?
  • Do you value creativity?
  • Are you passionate about helping others (and companies) perform to the best of their ability?
  • Do you enjoy finding new solutions to problems?
  • Do you have strong mathematical and statistical skills?

If you’ve answered “yes” to most of these questions, finance may be a great fit for you! Not only will you be pursuing your passion and helping companies make money, but you’ll be learning how to best handle your own finances as well.

And with that, we’re done! Whether you decide to major in finance or not, we wish you good luck in college (and in your future career)!