Behind the Credits: Finance

As rewarding as earning a degree is, deciding on which one to pursue can be tricky. To help with that, we’ve put together a spotlight series designed to offer a quick glimpse at specific areas of study. We’re calling it “Behind the Credits,” and this edition focuses on the field of finance.

On a fundamental level, the field of finance is about one thing: money management. But from there, things get interesting. The variation in finance career paths depends on whose money you’re managing, and how. Some roles involve advising individuals on their financial situation, whereas other jobs will have you assisting companies with their financial decision making.

Specific fields that a finance degree might lead to include bond brokering, corporate finance, financial analysis, financial planning, underwriting, investment banking, venture capitalism, and portfolio management.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median starting salary of a graduate with a finance degree is around $50,000. By mid-career, that number can be closer to $90,000. With advanced degrees and certifications, such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, that number can be well into the six figure range. But keep in mind, becoming a CFP requires passing a tough 10-hour exam and having three years of work experience in a financial planning field.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go over the type of material you’ll need to master before earning your degree in finance. Here’s a quick look at some of the finance classes for which you can earn college credit by taking a DSST test. These courses are typical of the ones you’d find in an undergraduate finance program.

Money and Banking

From understanding money’s many roles to getting a handle on U.S. monetary policy, this course serves as a catch-all for many basic finance principles. You’ll be expected to have an introductory level of understanding of macroeconomics, Gross Domestic Product, international finance, and more.

This class lays the groundwork for the various concentrations you’ll dive into in later finance classes. It will also help you start to decide which areas of finance you’re more interested in, and which ones seem less attractive. Additionally, this course can help you confirm that a degree and career in finance is actually right for you. It is a demanding, math-driven, and intensely competitive field, and it’s definitely not for everyone.

Personal Finance

This course covers the main content areas necessary for navigating the world of personal finance, such as credit and debt, major purchases (real estate, vehicles), taxes, investments, and more.

As you may have experienced in your own life, managing money on a personal level can present lots of questions and challenges. That’s why many people choose to hire a financial planner or financial advisor. With this course, you’ll be introduced to the many considerations and topics involved in helping someone else (or yourself) work toward their individual financial goals. It can be an incredibly rewarding and lucrative path for a finance major, but it also requires fantastic interpersonal skills, lots of networking, and being able to sell yourself.

Principles of Finance

Switching over to the corporate side, this class hones in on topics like understanding financial statements, time value of money, cost of capital, working capital management, valuation, risk and return, and more.

If you’re intrigued by the stock market, how companies make and spend money, corporate budgeting, and international business, you may be a dead ringer for a role in corporate finance. This course will certainly whet your appetite, and it will provide the perfect springboard for exploring more specific paths as you take on more advanced studies.

Considering earning college credit for your knowledge in finance? Try your hand at a DSST practice test to see if you have what it takes to earn college credits the fast, affordable way.

Not sure if finance is right for you? Check out our other Behind the Credits posts to learn about alternative fields of study:

Behind the Credits: Humanities

Behind the Credits: Business

 Curious how DSST credits will work for you? Locate an institution that accepts them here!

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