finance vs accounting

Finance vs Accounting: What’s the Difference, and Which is Right for You?

You have a way with numbers and a desire to pursue a career in business. But what is the difference between finance and accounting, two of the most common business degrees? The quick answer is that accounting is focused on concrete numbers within budgets, audits, taxes and more, while finance has a wider range, covering an array of specializations in business, economics, and banking. Read on to learn more about each career path and which is best for you.

What is Finance?

Finance is the use of financial data and information to manage and analyze financial trends in regards to investments and opportunities. Financial advisors, for example, focus on returns on investment (ROI) and strategies that maximize investments. Some day-to-day duties of a financial analyst include evaluating current and historical financial data, studying business and economic trends, and recommending individual investments and portfolios based on research and trends.

What is Accounting?

Accounting is the process of keeping financial accounts, whether they are budgets, audits, or taxes. With a concentration on numbers and financial reports in the business world, accountants and auditors manage the day-to-day cash flow within an organization. Some typical responsibilities of an accountant or auditor include examining financial statements, computing taxes, organizing and maintaining financial records, and suggesting ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits.

What is the Difference Between Finance and Accounting?

Accounting is a narrower field that focuses on professional processes to manage numbers and accounts, while finance uses the same information to analyze potential growth patterns in order to strategize company finances. Although these fields sound similar and utilize similar skills, they have their differences.
The accounting vs finance difference comes down to how you want to interact with a business’s finances. An accounting degree student will utilize professional principals and processes to manage numbers rather than influence them. On the other hand, a finance degree student will be more interested in financial strategy and control, and how they can wisely invest based on financial trends.

Education Level Options for Finance vs Accounting

There are different career opportunities when comparing finance vs accounting depending on your education level. According to an analysis completed by, 99% of finance jobs and 97% of accounting jobs preferred the applicant to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Check out the chart below to see what the minimum education level is required for accounting vs finance jobs posted annually.


Finance Jobs

Accounting Jobs

High school or vocational training



Associate degree



Bachelor’s degree



Graduate or professional degree



*Source (Analysis of 161,156 accounting jobs and 78,956 financial analyst jobs, July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015).

Course Content for Finance vs Accounting Degrees

The course offerings vary between a finance vs accounting major. Even though similar skills are needed for both programs and some content overlaps, there is a difference between accounting and finance coursework. See below a listing of common courses for both majors.

Common Finance Degree Courses

Common Accounting Degree Courses

Asset markets


Corporate finance

Budget Analysis


Business Strategy

Financial planning

Financial accounting

International Finance

Financial reporting



Risk Management

Risk management

Venture capitol

Tax accounting

Top Jobs for Finance vs Accounting Degrees

Pursuing your degree in finance or accounting can open many exciting career paths in the business world. Check out the table below to see examples of job opportunities for a finance vs accounting degree.

Top Finance Jobs

Top Accounting Jobs

Financial Analyst


Budget Analyst


Personal Financial Advisor

Financial Analyst

Financial Manager

Management Analyst

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent

Tax Examiner


Salary Expectations for Finance vs Accounting Careers

Both finance vs accounting jobs can take on a variety of titles and responsibilities. Below is information regarding the current related job titles listed in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, as well as the annual median salary for each position.

Finance Job Title

Job Description

Average Median Salary

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.


Budget Analyst

Budget analysts help both public and private companies organize their finances. They prepare budget requests and monitor institutional spending.


Personal Finance Advisor

Personal finance advisors provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help individuals manage their finances.




Accounting Job Title

Job Description

Average Median Salary


Accountants and Auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and taxes are paid properly and on time. They help ensure organizations run efficiently.


Management Analyst

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They typically specialize in a particular industry.


Tax Examiner

Tax examiners determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of federal, state, and local governments. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and more.



Expected Career Growth for Finance vs Accounting

When comparing both finance vs accounting jobs, it is clear that both careers are promising in growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accounting jobs are projected to increase by 10 percent through 2026. The BLS also expects financial analyst positions to increase by 11 percent in the same period. Both of these growth expectations are faster than the national average growth percentage of seven percent for all occupations.




Projected growth in employment from 2016-2026




If you’re ready to utilize your number skills in a rewarding career in either finance or accounting, GMercyU can help you reach your goal. Learn more about GMercyU’s accounting and finance programs today!