Finance Degree vs. Accounting Degree: Two Paths Toward Careers in Asset Management

View all blog posts under Articles

Woman using calculator

There is more to asset management than number crunching. The discipline’s soul is tied to the purpose behind the numbers, which can be fundamental to a business’s growth and an individual’s financial freedom. Earning an advanced degree in finance or accounting can lead to significant opportunities to fulfill this essential purpose. However, it’s important for prospective students to look at both degrees to see which aligns best with their career aspirations.

What Is Asset Management?

Asset management describes the process in which a professional directs a party’s cash and securities. The scope of this management varies depending on the party. For instance, a corporation’s asset management could involve auditing financial statements to streamline operational efficiency, whereas an individual’s asset management could link to investment advice.

The concept of asset management drives a number of accounting- and finance-based careers. These careers are bound together by an ability to help others make sense of critical data that they may feel are too complex or intimidating to understand. This aid in understanding can potentially lead to positive economic results.

Skills from a Finance Degree vs. Accounting Degree

While both finance and accounting degree programs can prepare students for success in a field tied to asset management, comparing a finance degree vs. an accounting degree makes it clear that these programs equip students for success differently. Each degree cultivates skills that uniquely correlate with the type of asset management associated with finance or accounting.

For example, a finance curriculum may focus on advanced statistical and quantitative analytical skills. Developing this acumen allows students to recognize fluctuations and patterns in investments and the monetary flow of a business. The ability to accurately extrapolate this information could be vital for guiding others to make sound, beneficial choices in the future. Graduates of a finance degree program may choose to pursue a career as a finance manager, commercial or investment banker, venture capitalist, or financial planner.

Developing strong analytical skills is also a key tenet of an accounting curriculum, but accounting programs usually teach students how to apply their analytical skills differently. Professionals use these skills to scour financial records and documents to accurately evaluate the financial status of a business or individual. An accounting curriculum can also help students foster a deep understanding of finance-related law, which can help them as they guide a business or individual through convoluted financial waters.

In an accounting degree program, students can also hone other skills that may seem unrelated but are essential for a career in the field. For instance, through accounting coursework, students can cultivate strong organizational and time management skills to successfully juggle the profession’s demands and deadlines. These skills, when combined with the mastery of analytics, could lay the foundation for a fulfilling career as a certified public accountant, or CPA.

Obtaining a Finance Degree vs. Accounting Degree

There are some similarities when it comes to obtaining a finance degree vs. an accounting degree. Because the paths are designed to be a little different, however, it’s not surprising to find the respective curricula also differ.

The biggest difference can be found in each degree’s typical curriculum. Those interested in a finance degree can expect to encounter courses related to behavioral finance, private equity, and financial planning. Those aspiring to complete a degree in accounting may come across courses in budget analysis, tax accounting, and ethics.

While a bachelor’s degree can be sufficient to enter the world of finance or accounting, pursuing an advanced degree, such as a master’s in accounting, may lead to a higher-level position.

There is also a difference in the licensing and certification requirements between the two fields once a degree is obtained. Every accountant who is charged with filing a report with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required to be a CPA. Those pursuing a career in finance aren’t necessarily required to pass a professional exam, but many do earn various certifications, such as the CPA designation, to demonstrate competence. These certifications contain varying degrees of eligibility requirements, and in some cases, an advanced degree curriculum can help students meet these requirements.


Obtaining a finance or accounting degree can lead to a fulfilling career in asset management. However, the paths to achieving these degrees are different, as each curriculum is designed to sharpen skills pertaining to the unique demands of either finance or accounting. Despite these differences, those who earn either degree can use their knowledge to produce a positive financial impact on businesses and individuals.

Learn More

Numbers are the foundation of business, and no one knows numbers better than accounting and finance professionals. To succeed as an accounting or finance professional you need more than numerical know-how; you need the expertise to conduct analysis and leverage data to drive business decisions. The online Master of Accountancy from Ohio University prepares you for a profession in the field of accounting.

Recommended Readings:

Ohio University Blog, “Discovering the 4 Types of Accounting”
Ohio University Blog, “4 Career Opportunities with an Accounting Degree”
Ohio University Blog, “How Financial Statement Analysis Helps Business Grow”


Investopedia, Accountant: Career Path and Qualifications
Investopedia, Financial Career Options for Professionals
U.S. News & World Report, “Determine If a Master’s in Finance Is the Right Move”
Forbes, “Financial Career Options”
Investopedia, Asset Management
U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors
U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Managers