Finance continues to evolve and become more secure and lucrative. Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that demand for finance professionals should increase by 10% through 2026. This growth amounts to 773,800 new job openings.
Finance associate degree holders may receive access to tuition reimbursement through their job, saving them thousands of dollars if they continue their education. Furthermore, holding a finance associate degree allows graduates to enter the workforce sooner and begin acquiring professional experience. Because every industry needs finance professionals, students can anticipate lucrative positions with potential for advancement.
Problem solvers, those savy in math, and those with communication skills should consider an associate in finance. While the field seems narrow, it offers a variety of professional opportunities. Students can specialize in specific finance sectors and find corresponding jobs.
Should I Get an Associate Degree in Finance?
When researching an associate degree in banking and finance, students may want to examine what types of skills they need to learn. Most programs focus on interpersonal skills, given that effective communication proves vital for properly managing money and assessing risk. Finance professionals also analyze data, think critically, and problem solve. Graduates should understand the fundamentals of financial accounting, which includes reading balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. Basic management skills help professionals prepare for employment beyond the entry level. Students should look for programs that discuss securities and investments and graduate with an understanding of economic environments, financial assets and markets, equities, derivatives, and other financial products.
In addition to researching program content for a finance degree, students need to identify what learning environment works best for them. Employed students typically opt for online learning to accommodate their schedules. Asynchronous programs provide human interaction through discussion boards and feedback from professors while allowing students to work at their own pace. Students who prefer to work independently of deadlines may want to research self-paced programs. Alternatively, recent high school graduates familiar with face-to-face instruction may excel in a classroom setting. Students with no prior experience may also benefit from a college setting where they can work with their peers.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Finance?
Graduates with an associate degree in finance can find work in any industry. Organizations seek professionals with experience and education in finance to help them keep their business healthy.
- Budget Analyst
These analysts work with project managers to develop and consolidate organizational budgets and discuss recommendations for funding requests. At times, budget analysts may evaluate the efficiency of programs to ensure that budgets align with spending. Many of these professionals work for federal and state governments.
Median Annual Salary: $75,240*
- Sales Manager
Sales managers develop training programs and set goals for the fiscal year. They often analyze sales statistics, determine rates or discounts, and monitor customer preferences. An associate degree in finance teaches students skills that employers seek.
Median Annual Salary: $121,060*
- Financial Analyst
These professionals evaluate trends in financial data, examine financial statements, analyze the effectiveness of management teams, and create written reports. Buy-side analysts work for large companies with a lot of money, and sell-side analysts advise sales agents who sell investments.
Median Annual Salary: $84,300*
- Personal Financial Adviser
These advisers work with clients to help them make sound financial decision on investments, insurance, taxes, and retirement. A large part of this job includes educating clients about potential risks and how to reach both long-term and short-term goals
Median Annual Salary: $90,640*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose an Associate Program in Finance
Students should identify what kind of financial and time commitment they can dedicate to their program. An associate degree in finance typically includes between 60 and 65 credit hours, which takes at least two years of full-time study. Although traditional universities host summer semesters that can speed up graduation timelines, financial aid generally only applies to the fall and spring semesters. In these cases, students must pay out of pocket.
Students who cannot attend full time can enroll part time, which may double the length of the program. Students with incompatible schedules for on-campus learning should consider online learning, which includes asynchronous coursework and self-paced formats. Online programs often last year-round in an accelerated format, shortening the time to degree completion. Online schools without brick and mortar overhead also cost less.
Finance curricula often include statistics, trends, and business law; principles of management; accounting; and investment courses. Some programs allow students to select elective courses to develop specialized knowledge that helps them with their career goals. Many programs require in-person practicum experiences. Online programs often provide flexibility by allowing students to complete their hours locally. Students who wish to continue their education can complete a bachelor's degree with roughly two more years of school.
Associate in Finance Program Admissions
Many schools list individual admission requirements. All schools require that students submit transcripts from previous high school and college coursework. Students with no college experience often need to provide SAT or ACT scores, and most college applications include essay requirements.
Online programs also differ from traditional, campus-based programs because students never meet anyone from the university in person, clarifying why online programs tend to require more in the admissions process. Distance learning programs often encourage prospective students to speak to an admission officer on the phone to streamline the process.
- Application: Schools set standards and look for the students who qualify. The application process lets them get to know the academic history of potential students, and the essay speaks to their personality and writing abilities.
- Transcripts: Schools want to ensure that students meet prerequisite standards. Transcripts indicate a student's overall performance in education. Students can request official copies from their school counselors.
- Application Fee: The admissions office typically charges a fee for reviewing all of the candidates. College application fees typically cost under $40, though students in financial need may request an application fee waiver.
Educational Paths for Finance Associate Programs
Earning an associate degree in finance allows graduates to begin working and earning professional experience. However, many students choose to transfer into a bachelor's program because it creates opportunities for advancement and higher earning potential. For instance, while a financial clerk may earn just over $38,000 with an associate degree, a budget analyst can earn over $75,000 with a bachelor's degree, according to the BLS.
- Business Administration
This degree establishes students' understanding of business and industry. Learners focus on the core subjects that hone their business acumen, and many programs offer concentrations for a tailored education that meets individual student needs. Concentrations add a competitive advantage in the job market. An associate degree in finance covers many required foundational courses.
This degree focuses on transactions, economic environs, and markets at the macro and micro level. Many schools offer specializations, including econometrics and financial economics, and many professionals become financial risk or investment analysts, auditors, or financial managers. Finance associate degrees cover general requirement coursework and introductory courses needed for this degree.
- International Business
Students with an associate degree in finance can shorten the program length for a BS in international business by nearly two years. International business students learn about the global marketplace and explore the influence of culture, marketing, and management systems.
What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Finance?
When researching colleges for associate degree programs in finance, students may notice that while all programs list standard general education requirements, core coursework tends to differ. This results partially from state requirements and partially from a particular school's resources.
Courses in an Associate Program in Finance
Many universities offer similar content, but they may combine some subjects to create interdisciplinary courses that allow them to provide flexible programming. Additionally, some courses teach the same content or skills, but go by a different name. See below for sample courses.
In this class, students learn about supply and demand, which dictates equilibrium in a market economy. The course examines consumer behavior and decisions and covers decision making for organizations. Advanced courses may include segments on international trade, social insurance, and economic policy.
- Accounting Foundations
In accounting foundations, students receive a general overview of financial accounting and working with financial statements. By the end of the course, students can manage financial transactions and understand revenue recognition principles. Students can also manage and discuss accounts receivables and inventories.
- Advanced Corporate Finance
In this class, students learn about project valuation and acquisition as they relate to corporate investment decisions. The course also covers how to raise capital, policy payouts, managing risk, evaluating executive compensation, and corporate governance. Students must learn the language of finance through assignments and projects.
- Financial Planning
This course covers basic theory and the structure of monetary planning, which requires students to analyze stocks, real estate, and bonds. Students explore investment issues related to tax. Financial planning also examines risk through the lens of perception and behavioral consequences.
- Business Law Foundations
Business law considers statutes and regulations that impact individuals, families, and organizations. Course content ranges from constitutional rights and ethical foundations to consumer protection and employment law. Students gain awareness of their own professional responsibility, foster problem solving skills, and advance their reasoning abilities.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Finance?
An associate degree in finance typically requires 60 to 64 credit hours, which takes approximately two years of full-time study to complete. Students often pay the same fee for 12 credits as they do for 16 credits. Credits taken in the summer or winter or over 16 hours costs students more money. These options work well for students hoping to hasten their graduation. Alternatively, working students or students with filial obligations may prefer a part-time program.
Many online programs operate on eight-week semesters that do not include a summer vacation, which helps students graduate faster. Instructors deliver coursework asynchronously and provide weekly deadlines. Some students prefer self-paced programs that allow them to work as slowly or as quickly as they like.
How Much Is an Associate in Finance?
On average, an associate degree in finance costs about $32,000. Students who prefer private and prestigious schools pay more for their education, while students who live in a specific state can receive tuition discounts by attending public colleges near them. Similarly, public colleges still typically cost less than private institutions, even for out-of-state residents.
Students may also attend school online. Programs attached to universities with a campus usually cost the same as the on-campus versions of the program. However, fully online programs often offer accredited programs at very low costs because they do not incur the same overhead costs. Despite the type of institution students choose to attend, financial aid and scholarships can reduce tuition costs. Financial aid offers students scholarship or grant money that they do not need to repay.
Professional Organizations in Finance
Professional organizations help finance graduates stay current on practices in their field. These organizations often provide career advice, insurance, and access to a vast network. Professional organizations create discussion boards and even invite members to attend seminars or symposiums. Members who want to further their education may qualify for any scholarships the organization offers. Also, many professional organizations offer continuing-education courses that help professionals gain higher earning power.