Are ready to pursue a career path with plenty of diverse opportunities and have a genuine interest in working with numbers and solving problems? Then you may want to explore the world of finance. Not only are there many different types of finance degrees available in this field, but working in finance also gives you the opportunity to put your analytical mind and other strengths to use. 


So, what can you do with a finance degree and what kinds of degree/certification options are available to you? Additionally, what jobs can you get with a finance degree? We're diving into this and more to help you determine whether this could be the right path for your future. 

Exploring Finance as a Career Path 

When considering finance or any potential career path, it's a good idea to weigh out some of the key benefits and challenges of this line of work. This approach ensures you are well-prepared to make an informed decision that aligns with both your professional goals and personal values. 

Benefits of a Career in Finance 

There are many potential advantages to working in finance, beginning with the fact that there is a high demand for finance professionals. This trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in business and financial occupations is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations nationwide between 2022 and 2032, with an estimated 911,400 new openings anticipated each year. 

Also consider the high earnings potential of professionals with a finance degree. Based on BLS data, the median annual wage for business and financial occupations in the United States was $76,850 in 2022, though some roles (such as financial analyst) have even higher median earnings exceeding $96,000 per year. 

Finally, consider the fact that a finance degree can open doors of opportunity in many different fields and disciplines. Whether you're more interested in working as a budget analyst or even a personal financial advisor, there are many possibilities to explore with lots of room for advancement and growth along the way. 

Challenges of a Career in Finance 

Of course, all fields come with some potential drawbacks. In finance, one of the most notable challenges is the high workload and stress that these professionals often face. It is not uncommon for finance professionals to work long hours, especially when they are in the middle of important projects and have very tight deadlines to meet. This can make achieving a healthy work-life balance difficult for some. 

Take note that the field of finance is always changing and evolving. This means that finance professionals can never be complacent in their skills and professional development. To remain relevant and competitive in the field, they need to be committed to a lifetime of learning and growth that may be overwhelming to some. 

Types of Degrees in Finance 

Whether you're fresh out of high school or already have a college degree under your belt, there are numerous types of degree options available in finance. Ultimately, the degree type that's right for you will depend on your current level of education, your professional goals, and your interests. 

Understanding the Associate Degree in Finance 

An associate degree in finance typically consists of about 60 credit hours and takes around two years to complete, though this can vary depending on your enrollment status and other factors. The requirements to be accepted into an associate degree program in finance can vary from one school to the next, but most will simply require that you hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED). Some programs may require that you maintain a minimum GPA on your high school transcripts, though this is not always the case. 

Insight Into the Bachelor's Degree in Finance 

If you're looking to pursue a more comprehensive undergraduate degree and don't mind spending some extra time in school, then a bachelor's degree in finance may be a better option. Or, if you already have an associate degree in finance or a related field (such as business), you may be able to transfer and apply your previous credits directly to a bachelor's degree program. 

Without transfer credits, a bachelor's degree in finance usually takes around four years to complete and will include courses in such topics as business, economics, statistics, and management. 

Mastering Finance With a Master's Degree 

If you're interested in a more advanced degree and if you already have a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field, be sure to look into a master's degree in finance. This degree program usually consists of about 31 credit hours, taking about two years to complete. A master's degree program in finance will delve into more advanced concepts and skills, ranging from topics in corporate finance and financial modeling to business ethics, regulations, and more. 

A master's degree in finance can be a great way to enhance your career prospects while preparing you for new challenges. 

The Prestige of a Doctoral Degree in Finance 

A doctorate degree is considered the pinnacle achievement in finance, providing an opportunity for comprehensive study. Most doctoral programs in finance will offer specializations or concentrations that allow you to focus on a specific area that interests you, like corporate finance or financial planning. A doctorate degree in finance can take four or more years to complete and often requires a dissertation in addition to regular coursework. 

Importance of Finance Certifications and Licensure 

Even once you've obtained your desired degree in finance, there are some additional certifications and designations you may want to pursue. These designations can help you sharpen your skills, specialize your knowledge, and help you qualify for more advanced roles in your field. 

The Role of Certifications in Boosting Your Finance Career 

Relevant certifications in finance can really set you apart in a competitive industry, demonstrating to potential employers that you've gone above and beyond to enhance your skills in a specific area of the field. 

So, what are some of the most in-demand certifications in finance? Examples include: 

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP) 
  • Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) 
  • Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA) 
  • Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) 
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 

Obtaining additional certifications in your field may require you to take additional courses or workshops, and it is not uncommon for previous work experience to be required. In many cases, you may also need to pass a certification exam and renew your certification every so often. 

Why Finance Licensure Matters 

It is also worth noting that many states require certain finance professionals to be licensed, especially when working in investment advisor or financial planner roles. These exact requirements can vary from one state to the next, so it's important to research and understand licensure laws in your state before you embark on this career path. Typically, getting licensed will require you to register yourself in your state of choice, take a required test/exam, and complete ongoing education and professional development requirements to keep your license active in your state. 

Career Paths for Finance Graduates 

What jobs can you get with a finance degree anyway? While this is by no means a comprehensive list of every job opportunity available to finance degree holders, it does cover a wide range of possibilities across a variety of industries. 

Role of a Financial Analyst 

Financial analysts are responsible for making recommendations to businesses and individuals regarding their own finances and budgeting. They need to possess strong problem-solving and data analysis skills, as well as the ability to communicate clearly with their clients. 

Per BLS data, the job outlook for financial analysts is expected to grow eight percent between 2022 and 2032, with a projected employment change of 29,000 jobs. 

Life of a Personal Financial Advisor 

Personal financial advisors are professionals who work with individuals to help them plan for their financial futures. This can include anything from creating a budget to making recommendations regarding investing and saving for retirement. Personal financial advisors may work for private finance firms or they may be independent contractors. 

The job outlook for personal financial advisors is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. 

Duties of a Budget Analyst 

Many professionals who earn finance degrees also go on to work as budget analysts. Specifically, these are professionals who work with public and private organizations as a means of better planning their budgets and finances. Budget analysts are commonly hired by government agencies and universities, but they may also be hired by private companies and organizations. 

The demand for budget analysts across the United States is expected to grow by three percent between 2022 and 2032, with a median annual salary of $82,260 as of 2022. 

The Exciting World of Financial Examiners 

If you enjoy crunching numbers and working with large amounts of data, then you may consider exploring a career as a financial examiner after you obtain your finance degree. These professionals are responsible for helping businesses and other organizations comply with laws and regulations related to their respective industries. Most financial examiners work for state and federal governments, though they may also be employed by private businesses in industries such as insurance and healthcare. 

The job outlook for financial examiners is anticipated to grow by 20 percent between 2022 and 2032, with a projected employment change of 12,800 jobs during that time. 

The Impact of Actuaries on Business Decisions 

If math is more of your area of expertise, then a career as an actuary may be right up your alley following your finance degree program. Actuaries are finance professionals who specialize in math, statistics, and the application of financial theories to assess things like risk and economic costs. It is most common for actuaries to work in the insurance sector, though this is not the only career path for an actuary. 

The job outlook for actuaries is expected to increase by 23 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. 

The Responsibility of Financial Managers 

If a leadership role is more your speed, then you may want to pursue a career as a financial manager after you complete your finance degree program. Financial managers play an important role in any organization. They often handle tasks such as financial reporting, investment planning, budgeting, and more while overseeing other teams of finance professionals. 

Financial managers are in-demand across a number of industries, including insurance and banking. The demand for financial managers is projected to grow by 16 percent between 2022 and 2032, with 126,600 new job openings anticipated during that same timeframe. 

Ready to Begin or Continue Your Finance Journey? 

No matter where you may be in your finance journey, University of the Cumberlands has several degree options to explore if you're looking to sharpen your skills and understanding of this robust field. 

University of the Cumberlands offers a bachelor of science in finance degree and a master's degree in finance to suit your needs. These programs are available in both on-campus and online formats with favorable teacher-to-student ratios and plenty of resources in place to empower your growth and success. 

Learn more about our undergraduate and graduate finance degree options by reaching out or begin filling out your online application today.