Those interested in money management can pursue associate's, bachelor's and master's degree options for financial management or finance. Associate's degree programs prepare students for entry-level careers in tax preparation or bookkeeping. These 2-year programs could include studies in financial management principles, investments and macroeconomics. Associate's-level credits may transfer to 4-year degree programs.
Students in bachelor's programs become familiar with financial statement preparation and learn to manage financial assets. Prior business coursework may be necessary for enrollment. In a master's program, aspiring internal auditors and government accountants may analyze international markets and learn financial decision-making for corporations.
Financial certifications are also available through associations such as the Academy of Financial Management. Candidates who pass qualifying examinations are awarded professional credentials.
Prerequisites for admissions depend on the program level. To enter an associate's or bachelor's level programs, students should possess a high school diploma or GED and be computer literate. Master's degrees require bachelor's degrees and previous undergraduate work in accounting.
Associate of Science in Financial Management
Associate's degree programs in financial management are designed for individuals who are working in finance or who aspire to gain an entry-level position. Coursework typically focuses on personal and business finance, financial statements, lending institutions, money management and financial markets. Many associate's degree programs are developed with the idea that graduates will transition into a 4-year degree program in financial management or accounting. Some financial management programs are geared toward students who want to specialize in mortgage banking.
Like many associate's degree programs, this kind of program typically includes general education courses, such as composition, math and science. Major course topics may include:
- Fundamentals in micro- and macroeconomics
- Accounting for managers
- Principles of financial management
- Money, banking and investments
- Legal issues in business
Bachelor of Science in Financial Management
The purpose of bachelor's degree programs in financial management is to train the next generation of leaders in the field of corporate finance. Coursework typically focuses on theoretical and practical aspects of finance, including economics, accounting, marketing, money management and investments. Many programs combine accounting with financial management, so students enrolled in such a program get training in both distinct areas and are prepared to handle assets, manage budgets and control costs. Graduates of this type of program may work as financial analysts, bookkeepers, loan officers or tax examiners.
In addition to general education, a typical bachelor's degree program is a combination of business, accounting, ethics and law. Courses may cover topics in:
- Sound financial policy
- Management principles
- Personal financial decision-making
- How to figure out financial statements
- Accounting for managers
Master of Science in Financial Management
Graduate programs in accounting and financial management offer a combination of advanced accounting principles and business finance, in addition to general business programs. Major coursework typically includes international markets, cost benefit analysis and management techniques for financial institutions. Graduates are suited to work in cost and managerial accounting, information systems and nonprofit or business consulting.
The curriculum for this kind of master's degree program is usually an even mix between accounting and financial management. Course topics may include:
- Financial accounting foundations and theory
- Cost accounting for managers
- Federal income tax principles
- Business financial decision-making
- Financial management in international markets
Popular Career Options
Completing an associate's degree program in financial management may lead to a variety of career options. Completing a bachelor's degree program in financial management can prepare an individual for several careers, including those of financial analysts, bank tellers and investment specialists. Another possible area is budget analysis. However, a master's degree program in accounting and financial management may prepare an individual for a career as a financial analyst or financial manager. General career options include:
- Internal auditor
- Fraud examiner, financial advisor or chief financial officer
- Government accountant or tax preparer
- Loan officer or credit counselor
- Billing clerk
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual wage of $70,500 for accountants and auditors, and a predicted job increase of 6% from 2018 to 2028. Financial advisors working for individuals made a median salary of $88,890, and were expected to see a job increase of 7% during the same time frame.
The BLS also states that budget analysts, who help an organization or business stick to its spending plan or find ways to spend less and increase profits, are predicted to have 4% growth in the profession from 2018 to 2028, which is slower than average for all occupations. The median salary for budget analysts was $76,220 in 2018.
Continuing Education Information
Depending on the schools involved, some credits from an associate's degree program may transfer to a 4-year program in financial management or finance, accounting or a related business area. The Institute of Management Accountants (www.imanet.org), a professional organization in financial management, has information and resources for professionals in the field.
Certifications are available in financial analysis and other areas of business for individuals who want to advance in the field and include the Academy of Financial Management's (www.financialanalyst.org) Chartered Market Analyst, Registered Financial Specialist and Chartered Wealth Manager. Professionals who work monitoring the books in government can earn the Certified Government Financial Manager designation offered by Advancing Government Accountability. In addition, the Institute of Management Accountants has a Certified Management Accountant credential for financial managers, which involves an exam and continuing education.
Depending on the program, master's degree programs may prepare the student to take the Certified Public Accountant exam. The American Institute of CPAs provides information and resources for determining eligibility (www.aicpa.org). Taking and passing the uniform CPA exam may lead to certification and licensing.
Money management comprises a number of different degree programs and subjects, like accounting, business, and financial management. Pursuing a degree in the field allows students to obtain the skills necessary to land successful jobs as auditors, accountants, clerks, and bookkeepers, to name a few.