If you're at a crossroads in your life and you are deciding which would be more worthwhile between a finance degree or an accounting degree, the average salary you can expect to earn is going to be one of the important deciding factors. Of course, there are other important things to take into consideration such as how much job satisfaction and fulfilment you would experience, job security and stability, and how good the work-life balance is. But the reality is that, while money can't buy happiness, it can definitely make life a whole lot more comfortable.
As with anything of this nature, finding out whether a finance degree or an accounting degree will pay more is going to be a lot more complicated than it may first appear. There is a wide range of different career paths that you can follow for each degree and there is also a lot of overlap, reflected in the option of completing an accounting and finance degree rather than one or the other.
Accounting majors and finance majors can expect to cover many of the same topics during their degrees but there are also stark differences between the two. At the most basic level, accounting and finance differ in their focus. Accounting is concerned with the past, keeping precise financial records of transactions that have already happened, and having a full picture of company finances to date. In contrast, finance is concerned with the future, using financial reports to create a financial strategy that will determine how a company is going to make money and where that money should best be used.
So which one can earn you the most money? As a rule of thumb, financial professionals have a greater scope for reaching higher salaries than accounting professionals but the range is larger. What this means is that, while finance positions have a higher ceiling than many accountant positions, they also have a lower floor. The career path for accountancy might be a little slower, but it is more stable in the sense that the lowest salary usually won't be as low as it is for finance jobs. Before we jump onto what you can earn you might want to note for later these two lists of qualifications set out by Auditox Accountancy for accountant qualifications and chartered accountant qualifications.
The salary range for an investment banker managing director, according to Glassdoor, is £56,000 - £327,000.
A finance degree can help you to get into the investment banking industry. Investment bankers advise their clients on where to place their investments. They also help with mergers and acquisitions. An investment banker managing director will be in charge of the highest level of clients, including banks and other financial institutions.
The salary range for an equity analyst, according to Glassdoor, is £39,000 - £116,000.
A finance degree can also help you to get a position as an equity analyst. Their job is to study financial reports, news articles, and public records and make recommendations based on them concerning companies and stocks. They are usually employed by brokerage or finance firms.
The salary range for a credit risk manager, according to Glassdoor, is £46,000 - £92,000.
Finance majors have an easier timing breaking into credit risk manager jobs. Although it will often require some specific postgraduate finance degree qualifications. The job involves building and analyzing financial models and using these to predict credit risk and for financial planning.
Beyond these top high-paying finance jobs, there are so many career paths that can be followed where finance degrees will be very useful. The average salary for finance professionals overall is £39, 034. This is likely to be higher or lower depending on where in the country you are located. So finance graduates, in general, can expect to earn above the UK national average of £31,000.
The average salary for a CFO, according to Indeed, is £125,227.
Many chief financial officers (CFO) have a background in management accounting and are usually accounting majors. The CFO is in charge of tracking cash flow, financial management and financial planning. They make strategic decisions about the company's finances.
The average salary for a fund accountant, according to Glassdoor, is £41,230 - £61,470.
Most fund accountants have an advanced accounting degree. They work alongside investment managers. Usually using generally accepted accounting principles to prepare accounts and financial investor reports for investment funds.
The average salary for a financial controller, according to Glassdoor, is £44,350 - £62, 690.
The financial controller will usually have an accounting degree and they will be in charge of overseeing all of the accounting functions of a business. They will produce monthly statements and be involved in financial reporting and they will report to the CFO.
As with finance, the top paying accounting jobs may not give the full labor statistics picture. The UK average salary for an accountant is £26,000 - £32,000. This is right around the national average of £31,000. There are jobs with business accounting that are involved in areas other than finance and invoices. Such as forensic accounting, and these may often have slightly lower average salaries (but may be interesting and rewarding careers nonetheless!).
When looking at average salaries, it is important to remember that many of them aren't using the median salary, but the mean. This can mean that very high salaries (such as those seen for many jobs that require finance degrees) may pull the mean up.
It is also important to remember that accounting and finance aren't easily pulled apart in this way. There is often a large degree of overlap between the two in terms of career paths. Many people with an accounting or finance degree, or a double degree of the two, can end up in many of the jobs listed here.
When choosing between accounting and finance, it is important to think about what sort of career path you want for yourself. An accounting degree, in general, will give you a stable career. It offers lots of benefits and a good pension, but less opportunity for getting rich. On the other hand, a finance degree may mean that you don't have as well-defined a career path. But, you have more opportunity for reaching the higher echelons in terms of salary. Accounting and finance together will usually give you the best chance of carving out a lucrative and sustainable career.