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What Career Options are Available for Finance Majors?
Many colleges and universities in Maryland offer finance degrees. A relatively popular area of study among students in the United States, this major is an ideal option for individuals interested in money management, banking, and/or economics. Every curriculum is unique, but most institutions strive to provide students with a wide variety of technical skills that can be applied in almost any industry. Additionally, finance is closely related to business. The fields share many of the same concepts, with knowledge and skills easily transferable between them. As a result, graduates tend to be well-prepared for professional employment in many different sectors.
It’s important to realize that there are many different types of finance professionals. Completing finance degree programs in this field can lead to a wide variety of occupations in Maryland. Money and financial management and investments are integral aspects of business, making it beneficial for companies and organizations in most industries to hire individuals with expertise in finance. While this means employment opportunities are common, expectations do tend to vary significantly between jobs.
With that in mind, the majority of finance professionals provide assistance and services to individuals, companies, and/or organizations as they develop financial plans, strategies, and/or forecasts. While technically capable of working with both personal and corporate finances, most opt to specialize their knowledge and skills in a single area.
While daily responsibilities vary based on industry, employer size, and the position obtained, many in the field perform similar tasks. These professionals are commonly tasked with spending examining financial records, identifying possible areas of opportunity/risk, and providing potential solutions to problems. They may also be responsible for ensuring financial operations run smoothly. Other common expectations include reviewing financial statements, computing taxes owed, inspecting account books for accuracy, making best-practice recommendations to business or financial management, and suggesting ways to reduce costs while improving profits.
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Online Finance Education in Maryland
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for business and financial occupations is expected to increase by 7% from 2021 to 2031. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations in the nation and will result in approximately 715,100 new jobs each year. Overall, 980,200 openings are projected each year due to growth and replacement needs.
Notably, some professions are projected to grow more than other. While employment for accounting and auditing occupations is expected to increase by only 6%, market research analysts are expected to see 19% growth in employment over this ten-year period. These discrepancies make it important for prospective students to thoroughly research their intended professions prior to establishing a career path.
Finance and insurance is the fifth largest industry in Maryland, accounting for $22.6 billion in revenue each year. However, those with expertise in this field are likely to qualify for employment in many of the state’s other top sectors. While education level will impact job availability, graduates may also find work in real estate, business services, education, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, construction, wholesale, information, and entertainment.
Based on data provided by the BLS, 193,890 business and financial operations professionals were employed in Maryland as of May 2021. The annual mean wage for these occupations was $89,150, which is significantly higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $65,900 for all occupations.
Prospective students should have little trouble finding suitable finance degree programs in Maryland. Most colleges and universities offer this major, as well as other related options, on campus and online. Remote learning has gained momentum and credibility over the years, with flexible scheduling and reasonable tuition rates. Regardless of the format selected, however, those planning to pursue employment in Maryland may want to give preference to academic institutions located in the state. These schools will provide the most geographically relevant instruction and can serve as a reliable resource for information during licensure processes. It’s also common for colleges and universities to establish relationships with local companies and organizations, which can help facilitate internship opportunities and professional employment.
Students interested in attending schools or colleges with degrees in finance in Maryland will have many options across the state. These options include Morgan State University, Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Loyola University Maryland, the University of Maryland Global Campus, etc. Whether you are looking for a degree in business administration with a focus in finance, or if you want to learn about financial markets and investment analysis without the focus on business administration, there are plenty of great degree options to choose from.
Those interested in obtaining finance jobs in Maryland will likely require some amount of higher education. Many colleges and universities offer finance degree programs and some in other related areas of study, with programs available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.
While some entry-level employment opportunities may be available with little-to-no higher education, this is not typical. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the academic standard for most business and finance occupations is a bachelor’s degree. Those with more advanced degrees, however, are likely to have better professional prospects.
Online Associate Degree in Finance (AS)
Associate degrees in finance generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. They are undergraduate programs, which mean students will receive instruction in both general liberal arts and major-specific subjects. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled can expect to learn basic concepts in finance, accounting, and bookkeeping. Instruction in business, payroll, software, and banking is also common.
This type of degree is ideal for those seeking employment as accounting clerks, billing specialists, and bookkeepers. Graduates typically have the knowledge and skills required to perform basic financial tasks such as managing spreadsheets, budgeting, preparing taxes, and analyzing financial data.
A common alternative to seeking employment right away is enrolling in bachelor’s finance degree programs. Equipped with a strong academic foundation, graduates are perfect candidates for further higher education learning. Many colleges and universities also accept prior undergraduate credit hours from properly accredited institutions. This allows incoming students with associate degrees to jumpstart their programs. In fact, many enter as juniors with only two years of education remaining rather than freshmen who must still complete four full years of academic requirements.Top 25 Best Online Associate Finance Colleges
Online Bachelor's Degree in Finance (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in finance often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. They are undergraduate programs, which mean students will receive instruction in both general liberal arts and major-specific subjects. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled can expect to learn about financial planning, forecasting, and investing. Other common areas of instruction include how to evaluate financial statements, cash flows, and security markets, as well as accounting principles, financial institutions and markets, investments, risk management, and financial management.
In addition to the standard curriculum, many colleges and universities allow students at this level to select concentrations. Doing this allows those enrolled to specialize their learning, which is especially helpful when pursuing work related to a certain sub-field in finance.
Some possible concentrations include:
- Investment Management
- Financial Management
- Banking and Financial Services
- Corporate Finance
- Risk Management and Insurance
- Real Estate
This type of degree is ideal for those seeking employment in financial planning, accounting, and financial analysis. The bachelor’s degree is typically considered the education standard for professionals in the field. It’s also the minimum requirement necessary to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination in Maryland. Notably, however, CPA candidates must complete a total of 150 semester hours before they are eligible for certification. As a result, most professionals seeking this credential pursue master’s degrees after graduation.Top 25 Best Online Bachelors Finance Colleges
Online Master's Degree in Finance (MS)
Master’s degrees in finance generally range from 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. It may also be possible to find accelerated programs, which may take as little as 18 months to finish.
Notably, graduate programs no longer incorporate general liberal arts education into the curriculum. Instead, students are expected to focus solely on subject matter relevant to the major. Course expectations vary, but those enrolled will typically study business communications, financial accounting, derivatives and risk management, financial modeling and firm valuation, and international financial management.
Additionally, many colleges and universities encourage students to select concentrations. Some common examples of possible specializations at this level include:
- Real Estate Finance
- Computational Finance and Trading Systems
- Derivatives and Risk Management
- Finance and Economics
This type of degree is ideal for individuals seeking employment as financial analysts, financial examiners, financial management professionals, and personal finance advisors. They often exceed the minimum qualifications needed to apply for entry-level finance professions, but are preferred by potential employers. As a result, a master’s education can lead to some of the most in-demand and high-paying positions in the field.Top 25 Best Online Masters Finance Colleges
PhD Degree in Finance (PhD)
A PhD or doctorate in finance generally consists of between 60 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. Programs at this level tend to be much more intensive, with a strong emphasis placed on independent study and research. Curriculums vary, but students can typically expect to instruction related to accounting research, advanced statistics, microeconomic theory, and corporate governance. Many colleges and universities allow students to customize their academic experiences to better suit their unique career goals.
Some course tracks commonly available include:
- Forensic Accounting
- Accounting Information Systems
- Audit Accounting
- Public Accounting
- Managerial Accounting
While the first few years are spent in the classroom, the focus often shifts to incorporate more research and writing as the degree progresses. Most doctoral degrees culminate with the presentation and defense of dissertations before a board of professors.
This type of degree is ideal for individuals seeking employment in research and/or higher education. Lucrative career opportunities may also be available in corporate financial management.
Become a Finance Professional in Maryland
There are many different types of finance professionals in Maryland. As a result, the first step is generally determining which occupation you are interested in pursuing. Once you establish your ultimate career goals, it becomes much easier to select an appropriate degree program. You will also be able to research employee standards and expectations for the profession, which ensures you are prepared to seek out the correct electives, minors, and/or extracurricular activities.
Once you obtain the necessary education, you should strongly consider becoming professionally certified. There are many finance-related credentials available, all of which can help demonstrate general expertise in the field or highlight specialized areas of knowledge. While certification is not always required for employment in entry-level positions, most companies and organizations give preference to candidates who possess at least one relevant finance credential.
Some of the most popular finance certification options available to professionals in this field include:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
- Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
- Chartered Market Technician (CMT)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Personal Finance Specialist (PFS)
- Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
- Certified Government Financial Management (CGFM)
- Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP)
- Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA)
- Certified Merger and Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA)
- Chartered Economic Analyst (ChEA)
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
Finance professionals are free to pursue the credentials they want and need to be successful. One of the most popular options, however, is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. This state-monitored certification is highly respected in both finance and business industries. In Maryland, the application process is overseen by the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy.
There are four pathways you can take to obtain a CPA license in the state:
- Pass the CPA Examination as a Maryland candidate
- Transfer your passing CPA examination scores from another state board of accountancy
- File a reciprocal application based on CPA licensure in another state
- Pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) as an accounting professional from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, or New Zealand
Those applying to become CPAs for the first time in Maryland will need to pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. To qualify to sit for this exam, applicants must complete 120 undergraduate semester hours, 30 of which must be in specific accounting subjects and three of which must be in ethics. A baccalaureate or higher degree from an institution that is a member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is also necessary. Notably, however, CPA license candidates must complete a total of 150 semester credit hours prior to submitting applications to the state.
Those applying for an original CPA license in Maryland will also need to file a Report of Practical Work Experience (RPE), which documents at least one year of experience in accounting, advice using accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills. They will also need to complete the self-study course titled, “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course” and send a copy of the course completion certificate to the board.
It’s important to realize that all active CPAs in Maryland must earn a minimum of 80 qualifying hours of continuing education each license period in order to be eligible for renewal. There are 23 acceptable subject matter areas, but at least four hours is required in professional ethics every two years.
Potential Careers for Finance Graduates
Accountants provide accurate financial calculations for individuals, companies, and organizations. They are often responsible for a wide variety of tasks including creating cash flow reports, administering payroll, maintaining balance sheets, carrying out billing activities, managing budget, and keeping inventory records. They may also be expected to perform internal audits and to file taxes for their employers. According to PayScale, accountants make an average base salary of $52,822 per year.
- Budget Analyst
Budget analysts assist in the development of functional budgets for companies and organizations using past performance data. They are generally responsible for ensuring that financial plans are effective and efficient and may also present findings and recommendations to management, executives, and other team members. According to PayScale, budget analysts make an average base salary of $63,064 per year.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Certified public accountants (CPAs) are provide general accounting, tax, reporting, and audit services to individuals, companies, and organizations. They are often responsible for a wide variety of tasks including the review of financial information, documentation preparation, and remaining familiar with ever-changing government regulations. They may also suggest improvements to bookkeeping and recordkeeping processes. According to PayScale, certified public accountants make an average base salary of $70,989 per year.
- Financial Advisor
Financial advisors assess the financial needs of individuals and/or institutional clients and help them to set and achieve various long and short-term fiscal goals. They may also be responsible for ensuring all tax laws are followed and assisting clients in choosing appropriate investments. According to PayScale, financial advisor make an average base salary of $61,810 per year.
- Fundraising Manager
Fundraising managers assist non-profit organizations in securing the finances they need to function. They often develop and oversee various initiatives meant to bring in funding, as well as interacting with and soliciting assistance from individuals and corporate entities. They may also plan events, generate marketing campaigns, and orchestrate volunteer involvement. According to PayScale, fundraising managers make an average base salary of $56,680 per year.
- Investment Banker
Investment bankers use sensitive financial information to develop and suggest strategies meant to improve monetary gains for their employers. They often assess overall financial health, capital needs, and goals for companies, organizations, and government entities. Afterward, they report on and facilitate potential investing opportunities. In some cases, they also advise clients on when to sell bonds, buy/sell stocks, and take out loans. According to PayScale, investment bankers make an average base salary of $101,848 per year.
- Loan Officer
Loan officers provide customer service to those seeking monetary assistance from the funding and lending institutions that employ them. In addition to meeting set sales goals, they recommend products based on individualized need and eligibility and coordinate with the underwriting department throughout the loan application process. According to PayScale, loan officers make an average base salary of $48,896 per year.
- Tax Preparer
Tax preparers help create accurate income tax returns for individuals, companies, and organizations. They often find ways to keep the amount of tax funds paid as low as possible and are trusted to ensure all documentation is prepared correctly. They may also be tasked with verifying that all deductions, exemptions, and claims adhere to the most current state and national tax laws. According to PayScale, tax preparers make an average base salary of $48,505 per year.
- Accountants and Auditors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Payscale: Accountants & Auditors
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Maryland. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Finance Certifications. Financial Management Association (FMA)
- Maryland Board of Accountancy. Maryland Department of Labor
- Apply for an Original License via Maryland Examination – Public Accountancy. Maryland Department of Labor
- Education Requirements – CPA Examination – Public Accountancy. Maryland Department of Labor