Financial Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelors & Online Training

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What will you learn in a financial management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Financial Management: Degrees at a Glance

The finance industry provides employment in three major sectors: sales and trading, public finance and corporate finance. Professionals in the corporate finance sector deliver support for corporate activities, including mergers and acquisitions, real estate and initial public offerings. Public finance specialists work on securities to finance hospitals, airports and other public interests. Sales and trading experts manage mutual funds and other investment plans. You have several options when choosing an appropriate degree program to suit your career goals: the associate degree program delivers training in fundamental financial topics to prepare for entry-level roles, while the bachelor's degree program provides in-depth training in common financial technologies, accounting and mathematics.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts slower-than-average job growth of 9% for the financial manager profession between 2010 and 2020. Personal financial advisors were expected to see job growth of 32%, and the number of financial analyst positions was expected to increase 23% during that same 10-year period; both of those growth rates are faster than average for all occupations.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level positions in multiple financial sectors Individuals seeking a career in financial management, financial analysis or a financial advisor role
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Real estate sales agents ($51,000)*
- Appraisers and assessors of real estate ($54,000)*
- Tax examiner or collector or revenue agent ($55,000)*
- Securities, commodities or financial services sales agent ($63,000)*
- Financial analyst ($88,000 - master's degree may be required)*
- Personal financial advisor ($91,000 - additional licensing may be required)*
- Financial manager ($121,000 - 5 years experience or more typically required)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credit - Roughly 120 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in Financial Management

The associate degree program offers the basic education required for entry-level finance positions in multiple industries. This general degree program provides coursework that will build your skills in accounting, investments and technology. Keep in mind that the finance industry requires strong skills in mathematics. The core curriculum for an associate's degree will cover general topics such as information literacy and communication, while the major courses deliver training in a range of economics and business topics.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positions that required an associate degree or less paid relatively competitive salaries
  • Some common entry-level careers only require a high school diploma; your 2-year degree might improve your marketability
  • Many associate degree credits will transfer to a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • The appraiser profession was expected to experience slower-than-average job growth of 7% over the 2010-2020 decade; the real estate sales agent profession was predicted to grow 12% over the same time period, which is about average for all professions*
  • Economic recessions play a significant role in the growth or decline of real estate positions
  • Competition from experienced professionals in entry-level finance and real estate jobs will be keen*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The associate degree program combines training in business topics with basic accounting and finance concepts. You will gain a foundation in investment principles, credit and cost analysis. Many programs deliver several subject-matter options, including real estate or financial services. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Financial accounting
  • Financial markets
  • Investments
  • Money and banking
  • Microeconomics
  • Managerial accounting

Online Degree Info

Several colleges offer an online associate degree programs in finance deliver coursework similar to traditional options. Schools generally design distance-education courses to meet the needs of working professionals; you may find that the coursework is delivered in an accelerated format.

Stand Out with This Degree

Pursuing the appropriate internships and certification credentials might boost your marketability, but the options available to you depend on your selected career path. For example, if you plan to work in real estate, licensing is imperative. Generally, pursuing opportunities to gain hands-on experience will provide the practical skills employers prefer. Consider taking internships with companies that deliver the types of services that interest you.

Bachelor's in Financial Management

The bachelor's degree in financial management offers a broader education with the option to specialize. You might find programs that offer roughly 18 credits in electives. Programs emphasize the development of income tax planning, insurance planning and advanced financial management skills. Some schools provide the option to choose between public and corporate finance. In addition, internship opportunities develop your practical skills and you can select from multiple companies to develop a diverse work base.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Financial managers earned competitive mean annual salaries of $121,000*
  • Personal financial advisors and financial analyst jobs are expected to see much faster than average job growth over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Licenses needed for securities positions are typically sponsored by your employer, so you don't need to be licensed in order to start a job.

Cons

  • Financial manager jobs were expected to grow by only 7% from 2010-2020, which is a below-average rate of growth
  • Master's degree holders might enjoy an advantage over candidates with a bachelor's degree, and a master's may be required for advancement
  • Pursuing certification or licensing will require an ongoing commitment of time and money over the lifetime of your career

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree curriculum explores special topics in finance, risk and advanced corporate financial management. You will engage in activities that develop your portfolio management and research abilities and enhance your financial analysis skills. Courses also explore business planning, forecasting and depository financial institutions. You can expect to take courses in financial research, financial planning, investment analysis, financial markets, cost management, global finance and cost management. In addition, programs develop your business background through coursework in marketing, business law and management.

Online Degree Info

The online bachelor's degree program delivers a 100% distance-education experience. These distance-learning programs offer classes similar to campus-based programs, including electives. You will most likely encounter accelerated programs that deliver courses in flexible formats while also offering opportunities to collaborate and interact with other students and professors.

Stand Out with This Degree

Similar to the associate degree, choosing an appropriate path to enhance your marketability depends on your selected career path. Obtaining a bachelor's degree makes some certifications available to you. For example, completion of a bachelor's degree meets the education requirements for pursuit of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential conferred by the CFA Institute; graduate-level self-study and successful completion of exams is also required.

If you would like to pursue financial management opportunities, keep in mind that employers prefer candidates with a minimum of 5 years of experience in a related occupation. Consider pursuing entry-level opportunities in accounting, securities or financial analysis to jumpstart your career. In addition, pursuing the CPA credential--an industry standard for accountants who submit Securities Exchange Commission reports--might improve accounting position prospects.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Accounting
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Accounting
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Campus Locations:
    5. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Accounting
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • Norfolk, NE

    Northeast Community College

  • Online Programs Available
    8. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Associate: Accounting
  • Associate: Business Admin.
  • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Accounting
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies

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Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Accounting
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Virginia College

  • Associate: Accounting Specialist

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Accounting
  • A.S. Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Business

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Northeast Community College

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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