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Finance Courses and Degrees: PhD, MBA, MSc, BSc

A finance career is often confused with accounting and banking, but it involves a significantly different set of positions, skills, and qualities. A finance school offers the training to become a decision maker for organizations including government agencies, stockholders, and other financial organizations. A career involves understanding a client's goals and finding resources to reach them. Although the minimum level of education is a bachelor's degree, many students pursue an MBA program to increase their career opportunities. An online degree is also becoming an attractive option for students who can receive the necessary training from a distance.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Finance School Graduates

A career begins with formal training at a finance school, and there are many opportunities available for graduates in the field. Most professionals in this industry are involved with:

  • Understanding various functions and applications of the market
  • Learning how to allocate funds for the public and private sector
  • Working with both domestic and international organizations
  • Accessing financial information online
  • Applying financial document information and developing strategies
  • Working with financial trade analysts and budget departments
  • Researching a client or organization's financial status
  • Making recommendations based on financial goals
  • Develop cash management strategies and track investment activities
  • Collaborate with financial departments to grow and acquire financial strengths
  • Help build financial futures for business owners, homeowners, and companies

A finance class or training program can be specialized in a particular field. This allows the student to become trained in a specific area such as personal financial management, corporate financial management, or even banking.

Career Options After Graduation from Finance School

Attending school enables students to gain a firm understanding of the industry, as well as choose a specialization as they move ahead with their career. A student may also take part in an internship or work study program to increase their choices after graduation. Common fields and positions include:

  • Financial manager
  • Securities broker
  • Commodity contracts manager
  • Insurance sales
  • Financial analyst
  • Controller
  • Cash manager
  • Risk or insurance manager
  • Bank branch manager
  • Personal financial or asset manager
  • Business advisor
  • Financial planner
  • Financial consultant

A career is commonly found in banking, financial institutions, and government offices. Some choose to own and operate their own businesses and work as independent contractors. Professional certification is required for investment professionals who wish to specialize in their field, and enrollment in classes throughout the career track is another option to stay up to date with the industry.

Finance Classes and Training Programs

The most common training programs available include:

  • Commercial Banking
  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Planning
  • Insurance
  • Investment Banking
  • Money Management
  • Real Estate

All of these fields are considered specializations, and require varying skills and strengths. Enrollment in a finance class requires strong analytical, mathematical, and problem solving abilities. Training can also be completed on the job, or through a work study or internship program. In all of these positions, interpersonal and problem-solving skills are very important.

An education from an accredited school allows students a chance to prove that they completed their degree at a credible institution. An online degree offers an alternative for those interested in pursuing a course program from a distance.

Experience can sometimes be more important than a formal education, but this depends on the nature of the specialized industry and the demand for the financial manager at that time. Banks typically promote from within for careers as a branch manager, while others enter their field with a formal management training program from the company itself.

Professional certification is another opportunity to increase skills and qualifications, and a variety of associations offer professional certification programs. The CFA Institute provides Chartered Financial Analyst designation to investment professionals. The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) provides the Certified Cash Manager designation. The Institute of Management an Accounting offers the Certified in Financial Management designation.

Online Finance Degree Options

An online degree is a valuable opportunity for students who need to complete their education from a distance, or choose to work full time and need to receive additional training. Although training may be completed through a company, supplementing an education with an online degree can open up new opportunities for a career in the long term. Online degree programs may offer classes such as:

  • Financial Management
  • International Business
  • Leadership in Finance
  • Management Information Systems
  • Corporate Financial Management
  • Organizational Development
  • Finance MBA
  • Bachelor of Business Administration - Finance

An MBA program allows students to extend their education and focus on research, corporate development, and industry statistics. An MBA program can be completed in under two years, and is an attractive opportunity for students who want to excel in their career.

Finance School Accreditation

The majority of schools are accredited by the same party as the business school that they are associated with. The Accrediting Commission on Higher Education in each region is most often involved with the accrediting business schools around the country. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business has granted specialized business school and finance school accreditation to over 500 degree-granting institutions around the world.

Earning Potential and Employment Prospects with a Finance Career

The demand for experienced financial professionals and advisors is steadily rising as more businesses, companies, and individuals are confronted with a competitive economy. Financial managers can be found in almost every industry, but the majority are employed by establishments such as banks and insurance carriers. With the ongoing rises and shifts in the economy, the need for specialized professionals is increasing; employment is expected to grow as fast as average through 2014, and those at the managerial level will face the most competition. Financial managers in the securities and commodities industry are expected to be most favorable.

Median annual earnings were $81,880 in 2004, while those that specialized in the local government sector had annual earnings of $67,260 in the same year. Related occupations include:

  • Accountants

  •  Auditors

  • Insurance sales agents

  • Financial analysts

  • Loan officers

  • Real estate brokers

  • Insurance underwriters

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