For young dreamers who have their eyes set on getting rich, a degree in finance can seem like a no brainer. Every year, thousands of students choose finance as their major in college. Many of them will graduate, get a good job, and become successful.
However, some of them won’t. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll see success with any degree. There’s also a chance that you won’t like it. There are many stories of students dropping majors that they realized weren’t for them.
So then, if you’re going to put so much time and effort into a degree in finance, the million-dollar question is: Is it worth it?
To answer that question, we need to dive a little deep and look at the pros and cons of choosing a finance major.
Pro: A Degree In Finance Pays Well
A huge advantage of majoring in finance is the salary. People that chose this major end up making a decent amount of money when they graduate.
A degree in finance pays so well since the skills you learn are highly sought after. Those skills are mainly math and data analysis, things that few people can do.
Data and math skills open doors to good-paying jobs with career advancement opportunities.
The Average Salary With a Degree In Finance
The good news about having a degree in finance is that your entry-level salary will be high. Average salaries with a degree in finance can start at around $57,000 a year.
That’s pretty good for somebody fresh out of school.
Furthermore, as you move up the corporate ladder, the money only gets higher. With more experience, you could make anywhere from $80,000 to well over $100,000 annually.
Here are some of the most popular jobs in finance and what they pay:
- Financial Analyst: $80,000
- Accountant: $70,000
- Financial Manager: $120,000
- Personal Finance Advisor: $89,000
- Investment Banker: $140k-$200k
- Statistician: $74,000
As you can see, finance jobs are known to pay pretty well. A typical graduate will have no problem finding a job that’ll pay them enough to be financially independent.
Now let’s go into a little more detail about what some of these jobs are.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Finance Degree?
One of the best parts about pursuing a degree in finance is the variety of jobs that’ll be available to you. It’ll give you a ton of skills that are useful in many industries.
Obviously, the first place most people apply to is specific finance jobs. However, there are also plenty of finance majors working in different fields.
That is especially true if the person had a double major in college. If you minor or double major in something like English or Psychology, the employment opportunities will be endless.
But even for people with only a degree in finance, the job market is open and full of employment. There are a few common ways for new grads to start their careers.
Most new graduates get employed in common entry-level positions.
Financial advisors are professionals that help people make decisions on what to do with their money. They mainly help individuals who are looking to invest or save money for the future.
Financial advisors can either work for themselves or as employees for a company. There’s a good chance that you might have even worked with a financial advisor before. They’re pretty common since everyone needs help with their money.
However, that can also be one drawback. Since there are so many advisors out there, it can be harder to get a job. The more financial advisors there are, the more competition there will be.
These jobs are very competitive, and it can be difficult for new grads to get started. Also, most people are not willing to let a 22-year-old handle their money.
Likewise, financial advisors are there to organize and get results.
A typical day is a busy one. There’s a lot of planning and office work that needs to get done. They also need to serve clients, so it is a very social job at the same time.
It’s a hard position, but it pays well. The median salary for a financial advisor is around $80,000.
Another way to put your degree in finance to use is to work as an accountant. Accountants are good with numbers and have top organizational skills.
Yet, you’ll need a CPA if you want to get a decent job as an accountant. A degree in finance will provide a good background in math and other relevant skills. The CPA license gives accountants a specialization that they can use to find higher-paying jobs.
The best part about being an accountant is that you can find employment almost everywhere. Every business needs accountants.
The average salary is around $65,000. That might not sound like a lot, but remember what I said before.
Accountants can find jobs everywhere and at any time.
So, in a bad economy, there will still be a demand for accountants. If you move to another country, people still need accountants. A career in accounting will provide a stable job with good pay and benefits.
A financial analyst analyzes stock market trends and helps people keep track of their money. The job can be pretty broad since financial analysts are working in different industries.
The analyst is there to study financial statements and make decisions based on where the economy is going. Businesses will then use their advice to make investment decisions. An understanding of both macro and microeconomics is a must-have for this profession.
Since the business’s money is on the line, this job is pretty vital. That means there will be intense competition for applicants. Don’t expect this job to be a walk in the park.
Financial analysts are constantly under a lot of pressure. Also, you’ll probably need more than just a bachelor’s degree to get started. I’d recommend getting a CFA license before applying for jobs. It’ll help you secure employment and stick out from the other applicants.
Pro: A Degree In Finance Is Worth The Money
A big pro to getting a degree in finance is that it’s worth the money. From what the jobs and salaries show us, finance looks like a lucrative career choice. Today, college is getting insanely expensive.
However, you should have no problem paying off any student loans after graduating. A degree in finance is definitely worth the money. Furthermore, aim to get one of the higher-paying jobs in finance.
A lot of college graduates struggle to pay off debt when they finish school. At least you’ll have a chance to get a decent job and start making some money. Plus, it’s also highly likely that your employer will offer to pay for you to attend grad school.
Employers are going to want to invest in you. It actually encourages graduates to get more degrees in finance and to move up the corporate ladder.
There are several advanced degree options for people looking to work in finance.
Bachelor Of Finance: Average Salary $60,000-$100,000
A bachelor’s degree is the first option for students looking to major in finance. It takes four years to complete this degree. Most students have to take general courses for the first two years of college.
You should expect to take courses that are heavy in math and data. Data, statistics, economics, and calculus are common classes for finance majors. Furthermore, many finance students start interning in their sophomore year of school.
Experience is just as important as coursework in this field.
The last two years are courses more related to finance. A bachelor’s degree is a must-have for anyone trying to get an entry-level job. There’s also the option for graduates to get certified in different fields. Some jobs will require you to be certified.
Other jobs will look at having one as a plus.
Either way, getting certified in something is a great way to complement a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Master Of Finance: Average Salary $70,000-$130,000
A master of finance is a master’s degree that has a specialization in finance. This shouldn’t be confused with an MBA in finance, which is something else.
The master of finance is an alternative for someone who doesn’t want an MBA. The MSF prepares students for careers in financial management, investment management, and more technical roles.
The degree is a little more quant focused than the MBA.
MBA in Finance: (Salary Depends On Program)
There’s also a choice for students to get an MBA with a specialization in finance. The MBA is a great way to enhance your career after getting a bachelor’s degree.
The finance MBA prepares students to work in financial management positions. One of the most popular jobs to get with this degree is an investment banker.
Investment bankers can earn a ton of money, and they are always needed. Getting an MBA is also a good way to move up and become a chief executive.
There are many CEOs with MBAs since they have the management skills needed to do the job.
CON: Finance Jobs Prefer Ivy League Graduates
This may be a little controversial, but it’s true. Investment banks and other companies put Ivy League schools at the top of their recruiting lists.
Does that mean you can’t get a job as an investment banker without an Ivy League degree? No.
Does it mean you have to try harder to make yourself stand out as a candidate? Yes.
You see, Wall Street puts a lot of emphasis on a school’s prestige. It’s an unfortunate aspect of working in finance since it’s part of the culture. For centuries these jobs have been held for the elite.
Today, companies might not care as much as they did in the past, but they still do. Just be prepared to compete with other graduates who have that prestige.
CON: A Degree in Finance Is Hard
One of the biggest cons to getting a degree in finance is that the coursework is hard. There are a lot of numbers and data analysis involved with this degree.
If you’re not good with numbers, then a degree in finance may night be for you. It really sucks but doing badly on courses is going to do you more harm than good. It’s better to just major in something where you can thrive and succeed.
Furthermore, the more degrees you try and get, the harder it’ll become. So, let’s say you decide to get an MBA in finance after pursuing your bachelor’s degree. That means if you struggle to do well in undergrad, business school is going to be straight hell for you.
The best thing you can do is to realize what you’re good at from the start. If you’re really bad at math, it doesn’t mean that a finance degree is out of reach. It only means that it’ll take more work to succeed than it would somebody else.
If math is your weak point, get a tutor, and work hard to improve at it. But if you’re not willing to do that, then it might be best to avoid majoring in finance.
CON: A Finance Career Requires Long Hours
The biggest drawback of pursuing a career in finance is the long hours. People who work in finance need to sacrifice a lot of personal time. It can be pretty tiring for someone who wants a social life.
Plus, you also have to consider the other people in your life. Will your spouse be okay with you working 100 hours a week?
What’s going to happen if you have children? They might grow up without ever seeing you.
For somebody looking for a work-life balance, pursuing a finance degree might not be it. Actually, the hours are one of the biggest reasons why so many people quit this profession.
Many individuals have switched from finance to more flexible careers like marketing. Marketing has a much better work-life balance than finance does. You might be making less money at first, but if your goal is to spend time with family, it might be worth it.
See my post on: Why a Marketing Career Is a Great Choice.
Pro: It’s Easier Change Careers With a Finance Degree
Another great advantage of having a degree in finance is that it’s easier to switch careers. Getting a degree in finance doesn’t mean you have to work in finance. If you end up not liking this type of work, it’s okay to quit.
Your skills and experiences are in demand for almost every profession. For example, finance graduates’ ability to analyze data is a big help for many businesses.
That’s why so many finance graduates do well in careers like marketing. Marketing is a pretty creative field at heart, but it also requires a lot of data analysis. It’s even better if you’re really good with numbers.
Most jobs require a good foundation in math. Finance majors are perfect for that since math is at the core of what they do.
However, don’t forget about those communication skills. It’s not just about being good at math. You must be skilled in both writing and verbal communication.
That is why it’s a good idea to have a minor or a double major in something writing focused while in school. If you didn’t do that, then take courses and read books about improving your communication skills.
So, is a degree in finance worth it? The answer to the question depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a job that pays well and has plenty of hours? Or is it more important for you to have a social life and to spend time with friends and family?
These are the questions you need to ask when pursuing a degree in finance. The employment opportunities are numerous, and you can make a ton of money with a finance degree.
Yet, money can’t buy happiness. If you feel that a finance career will drain your soul, it’ll probably be best to pursue something else.
Likewise, remember to consider your own personal history. Were you always good at math? Does it feel like college-level quant classes will be easy to pass?
By that I mean, do you think you have what it takes to buckle down and learn Algebra, Calculus, and Statistics? If not, make it a priority to change your ways and get better at it.
Otherwise, you likely won’t do well in the coursework
However, if you like it and are willing to put in the hours, then it’ll be worth it. It all depends on who you are and what you want out of an education.