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What is Finance?

North Carolina boasts a diverse and robust finance industry, contributing significantly to the state's economy. The sector encompasses various sub-industries including banking, insurance, investment services, and financial technology. The state's strategic location, favorable business environment, and skilled workforce have attracted many companies to establish their headquarters or regional offices in major cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham.

A finance professional is an individual who specializes in managing and analyzing financial data and providing expert advice on financial matters. These professionals play a crucial role in the success of businesses, organizations, and individuals by ensuring proper financial planning, strategizing, and decision-making.

Finance professionals work across various fields such as banking, investment firms, insurance companies, multinational corporations, government agencies, and consulting firms. While their responsibilities can differ depending on their industry and position, they typically perform tasks such as financial analysis, budgeting, forecasting, risk management, investment planning, and tax or other reporting.

To become a finance professional, one usually needs to have a strong educational background in finance or a related field. Many professionals pursue a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. Some may choose to further their education by obtaining a master's degree or a professional certification in finance.

Finance professionals should have a solid understanding of financial concepts such as financial statements, financial ratios, valuation techniques, and investment strategies. They must also possess analytical and problem-solving skills to interpret financial data and make informed decisions. Additionally, strong mathematical and technical skills, as well as proficiency in financial software and tools, are often required in this field.

Finance professionals require more than technical skills when it comes to communication and interpersonal interactions. Finance professionals collaborate closely with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders when gathering data, presenting findings, and making recommendations. Because of this, communication plays a pivotal role in conveying complex financial concepts in an understandable way.

Finance professionals must stay updated with the latest industry trends, regulations, and economic developments. Continuous learning and professional development are crucial to enhancing their knowledge and skills. Many professionals join industry associations and participate in networking events and conferences to stay connected and advance their careers.

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Online Finance Education in North Carolina

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the finance and insurance industry employed approximately 302,160 individuals in North Carolina as of May 2020. This figure represents a significant portion of the state's workforce, highlighting the sector's importance to the local economy.

Within the finance industry, sub-sectors such as credit intermediation, securities and commodity contracts intermediation, insurance carriers, and funds and other financial vehicles have been major contributors to employment in the state. Additionally, the rise of financial technology (fintech) companies has further fueled job growth and innovation in the sector.

The employment outlook for finance professionals in North Carolina is promising. The demand for skilled individuals in areas such as financial analysis, risk management, investment banking, and financial planning continues to grow. As the state attracts more businesses and experiences economic expansion, the need for finance experts will likely increase.

With the rise of remote work and technological advancements, the finance industry in North Carolina has adapted by embracing digital transformation. This has opened doors for individuals interested in roles related to financial technology, cyber security, and data analytics.

Students interested in completing finance degree programs or a program in financial management will have plenty of options throughout the state. These options include Wake Forest University, NC East Carolina University, NC Belmont abbey college, North Carolina State University, Durham Technical Community college, Queens University of Charlotte, Elon University, and other financial management schools.

Online Associate Degree in Finance (AS)

UniversityHQ's top 25 online finance AS

An associate degree in finance can be an excellent option for those looking to jumpstart their career in the finance industry. While a bachelor's degree is often seen as the standard path, an associate degree offers many benefits that should not be overlooked. First and foremost, it provides a faster route to entering the workforce, allowing individuals to start their careers and earn money sooner rather than later. Additionally, this type of degree is generally more affordable than a bachelor's program, making it an attractive choice for those who are mindful of their finances.

One common misconception about associate degrees in finance is that they have limited career opportunities compared to bachelor’s degrees. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, many entry-level positions in finance can be obtained with just an associate degree. These roles include financial analyst assistants, credit analysts, payroll administrators, and bookkeepers - all of which are vital positions within many organizations. Moreover, obtaining an associate degree not only lays a solid foundation for professional growth but also serves as a steppingstone toward further education and advancement opportunities in the future.

While some may view an associate degree in finance as less prestigious or valuable compared to its bachelor's counterpart, it’s important to recognize that success in the world of finance ultimately comes down to experience and expertise rather than just formal education.

Online Bachelors Degree in Finance (BS)

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A bachelor's degree in finance opens a world of opportunities for students looking to dive into the dynamic field of finance. Not only does it provide an in-depth understanding of financial principles and strategies, but it also equips graduates with the necessary skills to excel in various roles within the industry. From financial analysis and investment management to risk assessment and corporate finance, a degree in finance paves the way for a versatile career path.

One exciting aspect of this degree is the emphasis on practical application. Many finance programs include internships or cooperative education experiences, allowing students to gain real-world exposure while still studying. This hands-on experience not only enhances their understanding of theoretical concepts but also provides them with valuable industry connections. As a result, graduates are often well-prepared to step into entry-level roles immediately after graduation. Furthermore, many programs offer specialized tracks or concentrations that allow students to focus on areas such as investment banking, financial planning, or international finance – giving them an edge when seeking job opportunities in their chosen niche.

Moreover, pursuing a bachelor's in this field can be an excellent steppingstone toward advanced studies and professional certifications within the field. After completing their undergraduate degree, graduates have options to pursue further education such as a master's degree or choose to earn prestigious designations like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP). These qualifications not only enhance one's knowledge base, but also significantly increase earning potential and open doors for career advancement.

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Online Masters Degree in Finance (MS)

UniversityHQ's top 25 online finance MS

A master's degree in finance is an asset for those seeking to excel in the world of finance. Not only does it provide advanced knowledge and expertise in financial concepts, but it also serves as a testament to one's commitment and dedication to the field. With the rapidly changing landscape of finance, obtaining a master's degree allows professionals to stay ahead of industry trends and develop critical skills necessary for success.

One of the key benefits of pursuing a master's degree in finance is the opportunity for specialization. Whether it be investment management, corporate finance, or risk management - students can tailor their studies to align with their specific career goals. This level of specialization not only allows individuals to become experts in their chosen area but also makes them more marketable candidates in a competitive job market.

Online PhD Degree in Finance (PhD)

A PhD in finance is an advanced degree that allows individuals to gain a deep understanding of financial theory, research methods, and the application of finance principles in various industries. While many aspiring financiers may opt for a master's degree or an MBA, a PhD program offers unparalleled opportunities for conducting groundbreaking research and contributing to the advancement of financial knowledge. Because of its highly specialized nature, a doctoral degree in finance opens doors to top-level positions in academia, consulting firms, financial institutions, and government agencies.

One of the unique aspects of pursuing a PhD in finance is the emphasis on original research. Students are encouraged to explore complex financial phenomena and develop their own theories through rigorous analysis and empirical testing. This hands-on experience not only hones critical thinking skills but also prepares students for careers as thought leaders who can challenge conventional wisdom and shape the future of finance. Additionally, doctoral programs often offer opportunities for collaboration with leading researchers and practitioners in the field, which creates networks that can be invaluable throughout one's career.

Earning a PhD requires dedication, perseverance, and intellectual curiosity. However, it offers significant rewards both professionally and personally. Graduates of doctoral programs in finance have the potential to make significant contributions to academia through published research papers that advance our understanding of complex financial systems. Moreover, they possess highly sought-after expertise that empowers them to tackle real-world challenges faced by businesses and policymakers globally.

Online Finance Certifications

Accounting & finance certifications can be a valuable asset for individuals looking to advance their careers in the finance industry. Not only do these certifications validate an individual's knowledge and expertise in specific areas of finance, but they also demonstrate a commitment to professional growth and development. With numerous certification options available, it’s important for aspiring finance professionals to carefully consider their career goals and choose certifications that align with their aspirations.

One popular certification in the field of finance is the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Regarded as a relatively prestigious credential in the industry, obtaining a CFA certification requires rigorous study and passing three levels of exams. This certification signifies expertise in investment analysis, portfolio management, and other key aspects of financial management. Additionally, many employers place high value on this certification when hiring professionals for roles, such as financial analyst or investment manager.

Another highly recognized finance certification is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. While often associated with accounting roles, CPA-certified professionals are sought after across various finance positions due to their extensive knowledge of financial reporting standards and regulations. This credential demonstrates proficiency in areas such as auditing, taxation, and financial planning – making it an ideal choice for individuals seeking careers as auditors or financial analysts.

Become a Finance Professional in North Carolina

If you have a passion for numbers, a keen eye for detail, and are looking to earn a good wage - a career in finance may be the perfect fit for you. North Carolina, with its thriving economy and numerous opportunities in the financial sector, is an ideal place to pursue your ambitions. Here are the steps you can take to become a financial analyst in North Carolina.  

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance

    Step one in becoming a financial professional is to earn a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field, such as business administration. North Carolina universities provide excellent finance programs with courses focused on financial theory, investment analysis, and corporate finance that offer invaluable knowledge of this industry.

  • Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

    While pursuing your degree, it's a great idea to gain experience in the finance industry. You can look for internships or part-time positions at financial institutions, investment firms, or accounting firms in North Carolina to gain practical hands-on knowledge of this sector and build your resume when applying for full-time roles.

  • Step 3: Obtain Professional Certifications

    To stand out in the competitive finance field, you may also want to consider obtaining professional certifications. Certifications, like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), can significantly increase your marketability and demonstrate your expertise to potential employers.

  • Step 4: Network and Build Connections

    Networking is essential in any industry, and finance is no exception. You can choose to attend finance-related events, join professional organizations such as the North Carolina Financial Analysts Society, and connect with finance professionals on platforms like LinkedIn. Building a strong network in the finance community can lead to valuable career opportunities and mentorship.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Finance?

A bachelor's degree in finance opens a myriad of career opportunities across various industries. One popular path for finance graduates is working in banking and financial institutions. Advancements in technology and increasing globalization have led to a rising demand for professionals who can analyze financial data, manage risks, and make informed decisions. With a solid foundation in finance, you can pursue roles as a financial analyst, investment banker, or asset manager.

Another field that offers exciting prospects for finance graduates is consulting. Consulting firms rely on individuals with strong analytical skills and a good understanding of financial markets to advise clients on strategic decision-making. As a consultant, you might find yourself working with companies across different sectors - from healthcare to technology - helping them optimize their operations, improve profitability, or navigate through complex regulatory environments.

Additionally, many finance graduates have found success in the world of entrepreneurship. Armed with knowledge of budgeting, forecasting, and capital allocation gained during their studies, they are equipped to launch their own ventures or assist startups with crucial financial planning. Entrepreneurs need to understand how cash flows work within their business models and how to secure funding – all skills honed throughout a bachelor's program in finance.

Potential Careers for Finance Graduates

  • Financial Analyst:

    A financial analyst will be responsible for analyzing financial data, creating reports, and offering insights and recommendations to improve financial performance. They will collaborate closely with both the finance team and other departments in identifying trends, assessing risks, and developing forecasts as well as budgeting, modeling financial projections, and monitoring key performance indicators.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a related field (Master's degree preferred)
    • Proven experience as a financial analyst or a similar role
    • Strong analytical skills with the ability to interpret complex financial data
    • Proficient in financial modeling

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for financial and investment analysts in the US in 2021 was $95,570
    • The mean annual wage for financial and investment analysts in North Carolina is $97,620
  • Investor Relations Associate:

    Investor relations associates play an essential role in maintaining and strengthening the relationships between a company and its investors. They are responsible for overseeing communication and engagement with shareholders, analysts, and financial institutions - roles which require an in-depth knowledge of finance and capital markets, as well as excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, or a related field
    • 2+ years of experience in investor relations or a related role in a publicly traded company

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for financial and investment analysts in the US in 2021 was $95,570
    • The mean annual wage for financial and investment analysts in North Carolina is $97,620
  • Economic Analyst:

    An economic analyst is accountable for conducting research, analyzing economic data, providing insights and recommendations that aid decision-making processes and business strategies, as well as understanding market trends, forecasting economic conditions, assessing government policies on businesses, and providing recommendations in support of decision-making processes and business strategies. In this capacity, they play an invaluable role in comprehending market movements, forecasting economic conditions, and assessing their effects.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in economics, finance, or a related field
    • Master's degree preferred
    • Proven experience as an economic analyst or a similar role
    • Strong analytical skills with the ability to interpret complex data sets
    • Proficiency in statistical software such as R or Python
    • Excellent knowledge of economic principles and concepts
    • Familiarity with econometric

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for economists in the US in 2021 was $105,630
    • The mean annual wage for economists in North Carolina is $73,620
  • Insurance Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators:

    Claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators are responsible for evaluating insurance claims to determine their validity and the extent of coverage. They investigate the details of each claim, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and analyze documents to make accurate decisions regarding settlements.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as business administration or finance is preferred
    • Previous experience in claims adjusting or a related field

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators in the US in 2021 was $64,710
    • The mean annual wage for claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators in North Carolina is $71,750
  • Financial Examiner:

    A financial examiner is responsible for conducting financial and operational audits of companies to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. They analyze financial statements, assess risk management procedures, and evaluate internal controls to identify any potential irregularities or violations. They play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the financial system and protecting consumers.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a related field
    • Advanced degrees or certifications (e.g., certified financial examiner) are preferred
    • Proven experience in auditing or compliance within the financial services industry

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for financial examiners in the US in 2021 was $81,410
    • The mean annual wage for financial examiners in North Carolina is $93,030
  • Postsecondary Professor in Business, Accounting, or Finance:

    A professor will be responsible for delivering high-quality instruction and facilitating engaging discussions in the field of business, accounting, or finance. They will work closely with students to foster their understanding of core concepts and develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A doctoral degree in business administration, accounting, finance, or a related field
    • Prior teaching experience at the postsecondary level is highly desirable
    • Strong knowledge of business principles, accounting practices, or financial management
    • Excellent communication skills to effectively convey

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for business teachers, postsecondary in the US in 2021 was $108,060
    • The mean annual wage for business teachers, postsecondary in North Carolina is $90,430
  • Financial Advisor:

    Financial advisors provide clients with guidance and advice when it comes to their finances. They understand clients' circumstances, goals, risk tolerance and create personalized plans tailored specifically to each person. Furthermore, advisors remain up to date with market trends and investment opportunities so they can assist clients in making informed decisions. They also monitor and adjust clients' portfolios as necessary, while making recommendations about asset allocation or strategies that best meet client needs.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or a related field
    • Certified financial planner (CFP) designation

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for personal financial advisors in the US in 2021 was $94,170
    • The mean annual wage for personal financial advisors in North Carolina is $132,680
  • Accounting Actuary:

    An actuary is a highly skilled professional who uses mathematical and statistical methods to analyze and manage financial risks for insurance companies, pension funds, and other organizations. They use their expertise to assess the likelihood and impact of future events such as accidents, natural disasters, or changes in economic conditions to help organizations make informed decisions.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, or a related field
    • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
    • Proficiency in mathematical modeling and statistical analysis software
    • Excellent attention to detail and accuracy
    • Effective communication skills to present complex concepts to non-technical audiences
    • Knowledge of insurance principles, finance, economics

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for actuaries in the US in 2021 was $105,900
    • The mean annual wage for actuaries in North Carolina is $146,960
  • Business Administrator
  • Accountant

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