Should I Double Major In Accounting And Finance?

"I am definitely going to major in accounting. That much I have figured out. And ultimately I am pretty sure I want to get an accounting job, but some other jobs in finance interest me as well. Because I am still kind of interested in different possibilities, and because I want the best opportunities in accounting, I was thinking I might want to pursue a double major. My first thought was accounting and finance, but I also was considering accounting and economics. Accounting and finance seems like it’d make the most sense, but I’m not really sure. What do you think? Should I major in accounting and finance? Or do you think there is a better degree combo for double accounting majors?"

asked by Annie from Dallas, TX

It is great that you already are pretty sure about what you want to do in college and afterwards. Some uncertainty is normal at this point. In fact, a lot of your fellow undergrads have a lot less of an idea as to what they want to do, so that puts you just that far ahead of the curve. You’re on the right track.

Should you double major at all? That is probably the first question you really want to consider. You may or may not need to. I suggest you begin your decision-making process by making a list of occupations that you might be interested in after college. Once you have your list compiled, start hunting down people who are in similar positions right now (you can search online and ask around at the college). If you can, find out about the educational backgrounds of those employees. LinkedIn may allow you to find the info you are looking for without asking them directly.

You may find out that an accounting degree alone will be sufficient to get the jobs you are interested in; in which case, I would recommend you do not double major at all. School is already very expensive, and you will be able to save money by simply majoring in accounting. It may also help you to stay more focused on your education and your future career path.

If however you find a lot of double majors during your search, double majoring may be a good idea. Another thing you might want to consider doing is charting possible career paths that begin with the job roles you are thinking about starting out in after college. Look further down the line and see who got promoted. Would a double major open up more doors of opportunity further down the line?

You will find a lot of discussion threads about your question online, in particular the accounting/finance double major concept. You will find some students who see this as a redundant double major, because so many of the classes overlap. Others will point out that the overlap makes it easier, more affordable, and more manageable to double major in accounting and finance than accounting and economics or some other degree combination. Some students do say that they were able to garner more attention during their job searches because they had gone the extra mile and gotten the double major. So that is also a good indicator that a double major may be worth the effort, and that accounting and finance may be a great choice.

Another suggestion is to consider a double major which is not directly related to finance. For example, consider a degree in accounting and English. This will allow you to polish up your skills and writing. Or you could try accounting and communications. This can help boost your public-speaking abilities and teach you about sales. You could combine majors like these to try and aim for PR jobs in the finance field.

Another combination you might want to think about is computer science and finance. With this degree combination, you would be able to aim for consulting jobs which require additional knowledge of computers and programming. Those jobs might otherwise not be as accessible to you with just a degree in accounting.

Whatever you do, make sure you do major in accounting. I feel it is important to point this out while having this discussion because there are a lot of would-be accountants who make the mistake of believing that they do not need an accounting degree to get a job in accounting. These students may think economics or finance is close enough, and viewing these as more “challenging” prospects, they may shoot for them instead of accounting.

Why is this a bad idea? Finance and economics degrees are all good and well, but they do not provide you with all the training you need to become an accountant. Some accounting classes are very specific to the major and the field, and you simply will not get those courses if you are majoring in finance or economics. You also need to pursue certification (that’s really when the opportunities open up to you, especially for more responsibility and a higher pay grade). So you need to make sure you are taking an accredited accounting course which is going to end up resulting in your certification after you pass your exams.

Trying to decide on what to major in can be tough. For now, plan to major in accounting if accounting is what you want to do. Do some research on LinkedIn and talk to people you know in the field of accounting. Actually find out what types of degrees and double majors they pursued, and whether the double majors were helpful. Get some real data, especially on jobs which were recently acquired in today’s accounting market. Talk to your advisor, and come up with a plan based on what you discover. You might also want to take some electives in finance, economics, English, computer science, and other fields, and decide based on your interests. Just make sure that if you spend money on a second major, that it is one which is going to help you get a great job after college!

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