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What Career Options are Available for Finance Majors?
Colleges and universities throughout the United States offer academic degree programs in finance and other closely related subjects. Those interested in and good at working with numbers are likely to find this major appealing. Graduates are also likely to have many employment opportunities. The knowledge and skills gained are highly useful and easily transferrable, with companies and organizations in every industry seeking qualified finance professionals. Jobs are particularly prevalent among careers dealing with money management, banking, and/or economics.
Individuals interested in finance should realize that there are a wide variety of distinct professions available in the field. As money management and investment are integral to most business, companies and organizations in almost every industry hire workers with financial expertise. As a result, hiring standards and professional duties can differ significantly from job to job. Responsibilities are also likely to vary based on employer size.
Despite these expected differences, finance professionals generally provide some sort of monetary assistance to individuals, companies, and/or organizations. This most frequently involves developing financial plans, strategies, and/or forecasts.
Two of the most common finance professions are accountant and auditor. These workers prepare and examine financial records in order to identify possible areas of opportunity/risk. They may also be expected to provide solutions to various fiscal problems that arise. Another common duty is ensuring that financial operations run smoothly. This typically requires examining financial statements, computing taxes owed, making best-practice recommendations to management, suggesting ways to reduce costs while improving profits, and inspecting account books for efficiency.
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Online Finance Education in New Hampshire
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 980,200 job openings each year. Notably, some finance professions are projected to grow more than others. Market research analysts, for example, can expect to see employment increase by 19% during the same time period.
Finance and insurance is the sixth largest industry in New Hampshire, accounting for $6.8 billion in revenue each year. It may be possible for graduates to obtain employment in many of the state’s other top sectors, as well, including professional and business services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, or entertainment.
Based on data provided by the BLS, 63,300 business and financial operations professionals were employed in New Hampshire as of May 2022. The annual mean wage for these occupations was $78,900, which is much higher than the state’s annual mean wage of $62,550 for all occupations.
A popular major area of study, finance degree programs are commonly offered by academic institutions throughout the nation. Online enrollment also makes it easy to take classes from anywhere with internet access, allowing for much more flexibility in class scheduling and course completion. Notably, however, those who intend to seek employment in New Hampshire will benefit most from choosing programs offered by schools located within the state. This ensures a geographically relevant education, which is especially important when applying for financial certifications and licenses.
Students seeking finance programs in New Hampshire will have many options both within the state and in nearby states. And schools in New Hampshire offer finance programs at every level. Options may include Plymouth State University, Southern New Hampshire University, UNH Manchester, Saint Anselm College, New England College, Franklin Pierce University, Rivier University, and other colleges and universities. New Hampshire schools are ready to offer you the education you need to get started in your career.
Prospective finance students should have little difficulty finding higher education programs in New Hampshire and beyond. A relatively popular area of study, this major is often available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Some institutions also offer relevant professional certificate programs to undergraduate and graduate students. While these often take less time to complete, they do not necessarily carry the same academic weight as traditional academic degrees.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most business and finance occupations require professionals to have bachelor’s degrees. Although this is the national standard, it’s not impossible to find employment with less education, but it’s important to remember that opportunities of this kind tend to be limited. Additionally, those with more advanced degrees often enjoy better job prospects and pay potential. It is also worth noting that master’s or doctoral degrees are typically necessary in order to obtain positions in financial management.
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. These are undergraduate programs, typically comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific class requirements. This results in students studying various topics in communication, mathematics, and science while also receiving a broad introduction to the human resources management field. Curriculums vary, but often include instruction in finance, accounting, and bookkeeping. Those enrolled will likely learn about business, payroll, software, and banking, as well.
Graduates can generally pursue employment as accounting clerks, billing specialists, and bookkeepers. Entry-level employment may also be available in other industries, as companies and organizations of all kinds often rely on professionals capable of spreadsheet management, budgeting, tax preparation, and financial data analysis.
Alternatively, graduates can choose to continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degrees. Individuals who have completed associate programs in finance can often transfer the credits they earned previously and apply them toward their new degrees. Most colleges and universities accept 60 to 90 hours of coursework from other accredited institutions, which is usually equal to two years of higher education or approximately half of a four-year degree.
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. These are undergraduate programs that are still comprised of both general liberal arts and major-specific class requirements. In addition to studying various topics in communication, mathematics, and science, students are likely to receive instruction in financial planning, forecasting, investing, evaluating financial statements, cash flows, and security markets. Other common areas of study include accounting principles, financial institutions and markets, investments, and risk management.
Many colleges and universities also provide those enrolled with opportunities to select concentrations. This allows students to tailor the learning experience to better meet their ultimate career goals. This is a particularly great way to acquire specialized knowledge and skills in finance sub-fields.
Concentrations that may be available include:
- Investment Management
- Banking and Financial Services
- Corporate Finance
- Risk Management and Insurance
- Real Estate
Most finance professionals possess bachelor’s degrees. Graduates often qualify for entry-level employment opportunities as financial planners, accountants, and financial analysts, though work may be available in other industries, as well. These professionals can also earn promotions with no further education if they gain experience in their role.
Alternatively, graduates can choose to continue their education by enrolling in master’s degree programs. Pursuing this level of education can lead to greater employment options and higher pay potential. Those interested in graduate school should be prepared to meet established minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by your chosen institution.
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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. Accelerated programs do exist, however, which may take as little as 18 months to finish.
As graduate programs, they no longer incorporate general liberal arts classes. In some cases, however, prospective students may need to have taken certain undergraduate prerequisite courses prior to enrollment. This ensures they have the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in upper-level courses.
Finance curriculums vary by college and university, but students typically study topics in business communications, financial accounting, derivatives and risk management, financial modeling and firm valuation, and international financial management. Notably, these programs are usually designed to help those enrolled prepare for advanced positions in the field.
As with bachelor’s degree programs, students are often provided opportunities to select a concentration. This is especially true if you plan to earn a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance program.
Some of the most common specializations offered include:
- Real Estate Finance
- Computational Finance and Trading Systems
- Derivatives and Risk Management
- Finance and Economics
With superior finance knowledge and skills, graduates generally for careers as financial analysts, financial examiners, financial managers, and personal finance advisors. These are some of the most in-demand jobs available in the field, some of which offer extremely competitive pay.
Online 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 are often structured differently, with students having greater input in the coursework completed. Those enrolled may even work alongside professors to develop unique curriculums meant to prepare them for specific careers outcomes. Opportunities to select concentrations are also sometimes available.
Some common examples include:
- Forensic Accounting
- Accounting Information Systems
- Audit Accounting
- Public Accounting
- Managerial Accounting
Required classes will vary, but students can usually expect to study advanced topics in accounting research, advanced statistics, microeconomic theory, and corporate governance. While the first few years of enrollment are typically dedicated to traditional classroom learning, students often spend their later years conducting independent study and research. This time must also be spent preparing dissertations, which must be presented before a board prior to graduation.
Relatively few finance professions require candidates to possess doctoral degrees. This is the terminal degree for the field, however, and can lead to some very lucrative employment opportunities. Not only can graduates qualify for careers in corporate management, but they are likely to find work in academia and research, as well.
Become a Financial Manager in New Hampshire
As previously mentioned, the field of finance is expansive. There are numerous job opportunities available at varying levels of the profession, with workers performing a wide range of activities. With so many different occupations available, your first step should be determining exactly what kind of job you are most interested in. Once you determine a preferred finance profession, it will become significantly easier to plot a clear course to success.
When considering your ultimate career goals, it’s important to remember that every occupation is unique. While some have similar parameters, it is common for education, training, and experience requirements to vary. In some cases, differences can be quite significant. Becoming familiar with the standards and expectations for your preferred profession is essential. Not only will this help you select the most appropriate degree level and major area of study, but it can also influence which elective courses, academic minors, departmental concentrations, extra-curricular activities, and/or internship opportunities you pursue.
Once you obtain the necessary degree(s), you can pursue professional certification and/or licensure. Depending on your chosen occupation, earning additional credentials may even be required. While this is not the case for all finance jobs, becoming certified is often extremely beneficial. Not only does it demonstrate expertise in the field, but it can also highlight your ability to perform certain services. Employers also tend to give preference to candidates with additional credentials.
There are many relevant certifications available. Some of the most popular options for financial professionals 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 Manager (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)
A particularly common pursuit is licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This is the premier credential for individuals pursuing public accounting careers. In New Hampshire, the CPA licensing process is overseen by the Hew Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC). Their Board of Accountancy ensures that all applicants are entirely qualified for the credential.
In order to apply for a CPA license in New Hampshire, you will need to meet a variety of requirements. First, you must possess at least a baccalaureate degree consisting of 120 semester hours. A total of 150 semester hours of education is necessary, however, 30 of which must be in accounting subjects. Acceptable areas of study include financial accounting, management accounting auditing, and taxation. Additionally, 24 semester hours are required in business subjects.
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CPA candidates must also pass the Uniform CPA Examination or the IQEX Examination. The most common option is the Uniform CPA Examination, which is overseen by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
The test consists of four, four-hour sections:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG)
All four sections must be passed within 18 months, with a minimum score of 75 on each part. Question types vary, but are all meant to test the knowledge and skills required of newly licensed CPAs.
In addition to education and testing requirements, those applying to become CPAs in New Hampshire also need a minimum of one year full-time, professional experience in the field. This must amount to at least 1,500 hours. The work performed must be in areas of public accounting, industry, and/or government.
Potential Careers for Finance Graduates
Accountants provide a variety of finance services for individuals and organizations. Some of the most common monetary tasks they complete include creating cash flow reports, administering payroll, maintaining balance sheets, carrying out billing activities, managing budgets, and keeping inventory records. Some employers also expect them to perform internal audits and file taxes. According to PayScale, accountants make an average base salary of $52,822 per year.
- Budget Analyst
Budget analysts are responsible for developing functional budgets for their companies. They create effective and efficient plans using past performance data and then present the results 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)
CPAs have the credentials necessary to provide a wide variety of general accounting, tax reporting, and audit services to individuals and organizations. Some of their most common duties include reviewing financial information, preparing documentation, and ensuring familiarity with changing government regulations, as well as suggesting improvements to bookkeeping and recordkeeping processes. According to PayScale, they make an average base salary of $70,989 per year.
- Credit Analyst
Credit analysts are typically responsible for determining the credit worthiness of potential clients. This often entails assessing the past credit purchases of individuals or companies. They may also make provide recommendations on how to improve current credit ratings. In most cases, they are employed by major banks, credit unions, or investment management groups. According to PayScale, credit analysts make an average base salary of $54,328 per year.
- Fundraising Manager
Fundraising managers are responsible for securing money and resources for non-profit organizations. They often oversee various financial initiatives intended to draw in funding, spending a lot of time planning and coordinating special events, though some also generate comprehensive marketing campaigns and/or secure volunteer assistance. Additional tasks may include interacting with and soliciting finances from individuals and corporate entities. According to PayScale, fundraising managers make an average base salary of $56,680 per year.
- Investment Banker
Investment bankers assess the overall financial health, goals, capital needs of their employers, as well as facilitating promising investment opportunities. They often review sensitive financial information before suggesting various strategies to improve monetary gains. Depending on the situation, this can include providing advice regarding when to sell bonds, buy/sell stocks, and take out loans. In most cases, they are employed by organizations and government entities. According to PayScale, investment bankers make an average base salary of $101,848 per year.
- Tax Preparer
Tax preparers use their knowledge and skills to generate accurate income tax returns for individuals and organizations. Clients typically seek assistance to keep the amount of taxes paid as low as possible by verifying all applicable deductions, exemptions, and claims. They also ensure that all forms are prepared correctly and submitted on time, and that all state and national tax laws are followed. According to PayScale, they make an average salary of $48,505 a year.
- Financial Analyst
- Business Manager
- Business and Financial Occupations. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: New Hampshire. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Finance Certifications. Financial Management Association (FMA)
- Applicants for Accountancy. New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC)
- New Hampshire. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)