What Degree Should I Get to Work in Finance?

Two business men wearing suits are standing outside on a patio. They are talking and smiling.

If you thrive in a fast-paced, intellectually stimulating environment and are driven by the opportunity to shape financial strategies and outcomes, a career in finance may be an excellent choice for you. However, if you’re wondering what degree you should earn to enter this field, it may come as a surprise that there are many promising options available to you.

What is finance?

Finance is a multifaceted field that plays a critical role in managing and optimizing monetary resources within individuals, organizations, and the global economy. At its core, finance involves the study of how money is acquired, invested, and allocated to achieve specific financial goals. Professionals in finance utilize their expertise to make informed decisions about:

  • Budgeting
  • Investments
  • Risk management
  • Financial planning

Why should I work in finance?

Working in finance can be a rewarding and dynamic career choice for several reasons.

1. Variety of opportunities

As mentioned above, the field offers a wide range of career opportunities across various sectors, which allows you to find a niche that aligns with your interests and skills. The analytical and problem-solving skills developed in finance are also transferable to many other industries, providing you with a versatile skill set.

2. Positive impact on others

Additionally, finance is at the heart of economic decision-making, which means that you can have a significant impact on the financial health and success of individual clients, businesses, and even the economy. 

3. Consistently relevant

The field offers continuous learning opportunities, as financial markets and regulations constantly evolve, ensuring that your skills remain relevant and in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall employment in business and financial occupations is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations from 2022 to 2032, with around 911,400 openings being projected each year.

What are popular careers in finance?

Finance encompasses a wide variety of subfields, including:

  • Corporate finance
  • Investment banking
  • Asset management
  • Financial analysis
  • And more!

Per the BLS, the median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $76,850 in May 2022. Below are some examples of popular careers in finance:

1. Accountant

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
2022 Median Pay: $78,000
2022–32 Job Outlook: 4%

2. Budget analyst

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
2022 Median Pay: $82,260
2022–32 Job Outlook: 3%

3. Compensation analyst

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
2022 Median Pay: $67,780
2022–32 Job Outlook: 7%

4. Financial analyst

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
2022 Median Pay: $96,220
2022–32 Job Outlook: 8%

5. Fundraiser

Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
2022 Median Pay: $61,190
2022–32 Job Outlook: 5%

Who are you called to be?
Pursue your purpose at PLNU.

What degree should I get to work in finance?

Bachelor degrees

1. Finance

A bachelor's degree in finance is a direct route to a finance career. It covers core financial principles, financial markets, and investment strategies, providing a solid foundation for various finance roles. Finance majors often gain proficiency in financial modeling, quantitative analysis, and the use of financial tools and software. They also typically have exposure to real-world financial projects and internships, which provide them with practical experience and industry connections that can benefit them post-graduation.

For example, PLNU’s Finance, B.S. Business Administration students will gain an understanding of various topics, such as corporate restructuring, financial planning, forecasting, capital markets, mergers, and more.

You can also earn a minor in finance, which teaches you key financial literacies, such as understanding and interpreting cash flow and returning on investments.

A graphic of a woman holding a tablet with finance-related text bubbles surrounding her

2. Business Administration

A bachelor’s degree in business administration (BBA) typically covers a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Operations

This interdisciplinary approach can equip you with a comprehensive understanding of how organizations function, which is particularly valuable in finance roles when monetary-related decisions impact various departments. You can also develop strong teamwork, communication, and leadership skills, which are essential for collaborating in finance teams and conveying financial information to stakeholders.

3. Economics

Economics degrees can be valuable in finance, as they provide insights into macroeconomic factors and financial markets. A degree in economics can help you develop strong qualitative and analytical skills, which are highly sought after in finance roles that involve data analysis, investment evaluation, and risk assessment. You will also gain insight into market dynamics, consumer behavior, and the factors that influence supply and demand, which are applicable in investment banking, asset management, and financial planning roles.

4. Accounting

Accounting skills, such as financial statement analysis, auditing, and budgeting, are highly transferable and relevant in finance roles. Understanding the intricacies of financial reporting and analysis is particularly valuable when assessing investment opportunities, making informed financial decisions, and evaluating risks. As an accounting major, you can also learn how to utilize certain financial software and approach data.

What is the difference between accounting and finance?

While accounting primarily involves the systematic recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting of financial transactions and information, finance is more concerned with the management of money and assets to optimize financial resources.

5. International business

An international business major can equip you with a solid understanding of global markets, international trade, and cross-border transactions, which are increasingly vital in today’s interconnected financial world. Students pursuing this degree can also develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to comprehend and adapt to diverse cultural and regulatory environments.

Advanced degrees

Particular advanced degree programs, such as Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Finance programs, often value diversity in their student cohorts and welcome candidates from various educational and professional backgrounds. Whether you’re a recent graduate, early- or mid-career professional, career changer, or entrepreneur, consider looking into these programs.

1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA is highly regarded in the finance industry and can lead to senior management positions. Beyond its core business management curriculum, many MBA programs offer specializations or concentrations in finance, providing in-depth knowledge of the field of finance. 

An MBA program typically incorporates real-world case studies, networking opportunities, and group projects that can help you build a strong professional network within the finance industry, You can also develop and enhance your strategic thinking and leadership skills in this program, preparing you to be a strong employee in various industries.

2. Master of Finance (MFin, MiF, MSF)

A Master’s in Finance is a direct and specialized pathway into the field of finance. Similar to MBA programs, MSF programs often include real-world projects, internships, and various networking avenues.


Individuals from a variety of backgrounds and career stages can pursue certifications to work in finance. For example, recent graduates and entry-level finance professionals may pursue a certification to gain specialized knowledge and make themselves more competitive in the job market.

Additionally, small business owners and entrepreneurs may earn a finance-oriented certification to better manage their company's finances or make informed investment decisions. Finance certifications can also be valuable for professionals who work in specialized roles within the finance industry.

Below are two popular certifications that you may want to consider earning if you want to work in finance:

1. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA designation is highly respected in the investment industry and is often pursued by professionals looking to advance their careers in asset management, equity research, or portfolio management.

2. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

While typically associated with accounting, a CPA credential can be valuable in finance, especially if you are interested in financial analysis or corporate finance.

Discover Your Financial Prowess at PLNU

If you’re interested in joining a community of future financial leaders, check out PLNU’s Fermanian School of Business (FSB). Whether you’re looking for an undergraduate, graduate, or accelerated undergraduate program to expand your financial expertise, the FSB has a program tailored to your needs.

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