You’re feeling pretty sure you want to go into the business field, but beyond that broad category, your career path clarity starts to falter. Business is obviously a large field that covers a variety of specialized expertise. Before you make any education plans, it will help to narrow down your focus so you can choose a path that suits your goals and interests.
The educational options Business Management and Accounting are two excellent options to start narrowing down the process. In this article, we’ll compare business management versus accounting so you’ll have a better understanding of the differences, similarities and which program may be the best fit for you.
Business management vs. accounting: Roles and responsibilities
While a role in management is a typical starting point, business management professionals are responsible for supervising and leading a group of people to further an organization’s business goals. Their tasks may include assigning work to team members, creating project budgets and making sure things adhere to deadlines. “My business management role also includes reviewing reports and key performance indicators based on the results we've achieved for our clients, as well as thinking outside the box to get our clients better results,” says Jason Hawkins, manager at Advertising for Surgeons.
Managers are needed throughout many different departments, including sales, marketing, design and human resources (HR). Potential business management job titles include but certainly aren’t limited to:
- Sales manager
- Marketing manager
- Project manager
- Retail general manager
On the other hand, accountants are responsible for keeping financial records in order, creating financial reports and looking at financial data to ensure that operations are cost effective. Accountants can expect to spend the first few years in the field focusing just on the numbers, according to Ryan Maxwell, CPA and CFO at FirstRate Data. As you advance in your accounting career, you’ll be exposed to more “business operations outside the finance function.”
Accountants can specialize in areas like private or public accounting, auditing, and taxes. Potential accounting job titles include:
- Tax accountant
- Internal/external auditor
- Public accountant
- Management accountant
Business management vs. accounting: Work environment
Business management and accounting careers may seem interchangeable because they share a similar work environment. Large corporations and small businesses alike have a need for skilled accountants and strong business leaders. However, just because these roles often take place under the same roof doesn’t mean their work environments are the same!
Our experts agree that business managers are more likely to work with others on a daily basis in a highly collaborative work environment that requires plenty of communication. Hawkins shares that he often spends his days talking with clients and working with several team members.
Accountants, on the other hand, are likely to spend more of their time on solo work. That’s not to say they never work on a team—meetings, audits, generating reports and other projects all require some level of collaboration. But unlike business managers, accountants probably won’t spend the bulk of their day communicating with others. Instead, they’ll complete their portion of a project before regrouping with their team or client.
The rhythm of work life can also be different in these two roles. Where business managers in most departments can expect a steady workload year-round—with occasional crunch times as they approach large project deadlines—accountants experience distinct slow and busy seasons. “One of the biggest distinctions between finance jobs and other functions is how cyclical the work is,” Maxwell says. “Accountants will be extremely busy during financial reporting season, and work is much more relaxed the rest of the year.”
Business management vs. accounting: Employment projections and earning potential
Salary expectations and job stability are always a consideration when weighing your career options. When it comes to the debate between business management and accounting, both paths appear to have solid prospects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in management occupations in general are projected to grow five percent from 2019 to 2029.1 The median annual salary for these occupations in 2019 was $105,660.1
If you narrow the field even further, individual business management titles have even more potential. For example, the BLS reports sales managers earned a 2019 median annual salary of $126,640, and the position has a projected employment growth of four percent through 2029.1 Marketing managers reported a 2019 median annual salary of $135,900, and their employment is projected to grow by six percent.1 Of course, it’s important to keep in mind these figures reflect typically well-established professionals who’ve worked their way up into these positions.
Accountants and auditors are also enjoying job growth that keeps pace with the national average at a projected growth of four percent through 2029.1 The median annual wage for accountants was $71,550 in 2019, with the highest 10 percent of earners making upwards of $124,450.1
Although this earning potential isn’t quite as high as some management careers, it’s certainly nothing to scoff at! Remember, an accounting background can also be used to propel your career to other areas of finance—or even management roles—as you advance in your career.
Business management vs. accounting: Skills needed to succeed
Management and accounting careers require different skill sets, both in technical knowledge and in soft skills. We used job-posting analysis software to analyze thousands of job postings nationwide and identify some of the most commonly sought-after skills. Here’s what we found for each.
In-demand management skills:2
- Business administration
- Project management
- Customer service
- Business development
- Staff management
- Customer contact
In-demand accounting skills:2
- Financial reporting
- Financial statements
- Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
- Account reconciliation
- Financial analysis
- General ledger
- Business administration
You can see that there’s a bit of overlap between the skills these career paths require. If you’re still feeling stumped, remember that soft skills matter too! They could be the deciding factor between these appealing fields.
Of management, Hawkins shares that “being able to understand employees and their emotional states are important. This will allow you to lead by example rather than leading by force.” As for accounting, Maxwell emphasizes the importance of communication rather than relying too much on technical skills, especially as you grow in your role.
Business management vs. accounting: Education
Last but not least in our comparison is education. Both accounting and management careers are likely to require a college education. An Associate’s degree may be enough to get started in lower-level jobs in either of these fields, but more advanced roles are likely to prefer candidates with a Bachelor’s degree.
With a college education being the standard, it may help to compare the types of courses you’ll take. While this is just a small sample of the courses you can expect to take in either an Accounting or Business Management degree program, seeing them side by side can give you a feel for the subjects you’ll cover.
Business Management courses:
- Introduction to Business Analysis and Intelligence
- Introduction to Functional and Project Management
- Business Law and Ethical Behavior
- Emerging Trends, Markets and Technologies in Business
- Strategic Management
- Principles of Accounting
- Financial Investigation
- Risk Management for Accountants
- Cost Accounting
- Corporate and International Accounting
Business management vs. accounting: The choice is yours
Making a career choice is never easy, but knowing the facts can help narrow down your options. Now that you have all the relevant information about business management versus accounting, you have the facts you need to choose the degree field that’s right for you.
Once your decision is made, all that’s left is to take the first step toward your new career! Find out how to get started by learning more about the Rasmussen University Business Management degree programs and Accounting degree programs.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed February 2021] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/home.htm and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-1. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 1,290,140 business management jobs and 573,833 accounting jobs, February 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021).
Is a business degree or accounting degree better? ›
There is no definitive answer to this question. Business administration and accounting, although fairly similar, both have their own distinct qualities and even meeting points in the job market. The answer to which one is better, in this case, is subjective. It comes down to what you want to focus on.Is accounting the right major for me? ›
If you've always been good at math and seeing trends and patterns in numbers, and you consider yourself a skilled communicator who can relay complex data analysis to others, then an accounting major (and career path) may be for you.Why accounting is the best business degree? ›
More job opportunities: Accountants work for many businesses across a variety of industries. Graduated from an accounting program may find more open job opportunities. Higher earning potential: An accounting degree can help professionals qualify for advanced roles and higher incomes.Which is harder business or accounting? ›
Generally speaking, people consider accounting majors to be more difficult to study and pass than finance majors. And there are a few different reasons for this. The content of accounting majors is, on average, much more technical than for finance majors, and this can make it more difficult.Can I become an accountant with a business management degree? ›
If you decide against a degree in accounting, alternative degrees for would-be accountants include maths, economics, business, management and finance. Remember that graduates of all subjects can pursue this career path.Is a business management degree useful? ›
A business management degree can help prepare you for a range of career opportunities across numerous industries, including positions leading people. Graduates of business management degree programs can pursue careers in finance, human resources, information security, marketing and more.Why should I choose accounting as a career? ›
The accounting field has plenty of great opportunities waiting for you. You can work in various industries and roles to fill your career with purpose. With great pay, opportunities for growth, and the chance to help businesses grow into the next decade and beyond, accounting is a great career path to pursue.What are 4 reasons to study accounting? ›
- Excellent graduate prospects. ...
- The world needs accountants. ...
- You could work in any industry. ...
- Internationally diverse cohort. ...
- Joint honours. ...
- Real-life application. ...
- Year-abroad opportunities.
For some, they may enjoy working with financial reports in their daily work. Others may be attracted to the constant learning aspect that comes with working in accounting. Another alternative may be just enjoying using mathematics and the skills that come along with a math-focused career.Can you study business management without accounting? ›
To study at university, you will need to take mathematics and finance subjects. But to study with a private college or distance learning institution, you don't need any prior knowledge on this topic. Here at Skills Academy, we offer our programmes via Open Access.
What is the most important business degree? ›
Master of business administration
Strong leaders are essential in the business world. The perfect degree for anyone interested in acquiring strong leadership skills and getting top leader jobs is an MBA (master of business administration).
A bachelor's degree in business administration offers a broad grounding in the world of commerce and a bachelor's degree in finance tends to be more specialized, placing greater emphasis on investments and financial institutions. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).Is accounting the easiest major? ›
Accounting can be a very challenging major and takes four years of serious commitment to complete. With difficult classes, intense curriculums, and very little free time, many international students find that accounting may not be right for them and decide to leave the field.Is accounting more math or business? ›
It also requires a strong understanding of business operations and the ability to use financial data to make sound decisions. In other words, accounting is more than just math—it's a complex and challenging profession requiring specialized knowledge and skills.Which degree is best for accountant? ›
Earning a bachelor's degree in accounting can help qualify you to sit for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. With a CPA credential you can find more positions at advanced levels. However, to meet the full educational requirements for CPA licensure, many candidates choose to obtain a master's degree.What does a Business Management degree teach you? ›
You'll learn about managing resources like personnel, finances, and physical elements. You'll learn about managing processes and procedures, strategies, and more. You'll also gain a working knowledge of other business disciplines like marketing, human resources, accounting and finance.Why do you want to study business and management? ›
Always in demand
As long as there are businesses, managers will always be in demand. Studying Business Management gives students knowledge of business, finance, economics and marketing, making them highly sought after by several different sectors and employers.
The accounting field focuses solely on accounting practices, principles, and theories. Meanwhile, business administration places an emphasis on business management and operations. An accounting degree prepares learners to consult and manage financial matters for businesses, governments, individuals, and organizations.Can you make good money with a business management degree? ›
For example, the average yearly salary for someone with a bachelor's degree in business management is $60,000, $75,000 with a master's degree, and $122,000 with a doctorate degree in business management.Is accounting a good career for introverts? ›
Introverts tend to do well in accounting positions because many require little to no contact with others. For the most part, accounting jobs for introverts don't require much social interaction. Contact is often limited to working with clients and reporting findings to management via reports, emails or e-meetings.
Why do people love accounting? ›
You get to spend your time helping people
It could be the perfect career. Accountants help their clients all day long, especially ones who work for an accountancy practice. We think helping people solve their problems and achieve their business goals is a pretty rewarding way to spend your time.
The field of finance and accounting is an essential pillar of the business sector, as many organizational achievements are measured in financial growth. Students choosing a college major should understand that knowing the ins and outs of accounting and financial management are marketable skills for numerous careers.What are three 3 main areas of accounting? ›
The 3 types of accounting include cost, managerial, and financial accounting. Although 3 methods of accounting are both vital to the healthy functioning of a business, they have different meanings and accomplish different goals. Let's dive into each of each below.How do you introduce yourself in an accounting interview? ›
The key point to a self-introduction for an accounting interview is to be precise about the strengths and achievements you mention. Give examples of what sets you apart from the other candidates. You can start with: your work experience, skills sets, key strength, and then finish with your career objective.What are benefits of accounting? ›
Some of the advantages of accounting are Maintenance of business records, Preparation of financial statements, Comparison of results, Decision making, Evidence in legal matters, Provides information to related parties.What do you need to be good at for accounting? ›
- Strong written and oral communication.
- Organization and attention to detail.
- Analytical and problem solving skills.
- Time management.
- Systems analysis.
- Mathematical and deductive reasoning.
- Critical thinking.
- Active learning.
While a business management degree only requires a couple of pure math classes, many of the degree's other requirements, such as economics, involve a lot of number crunching.Is it hard to study business management? ›
But while business management is indeed a challenging and complex field to navigate, and while there is a lot to learn in preparation for a successful management position, that doesn't mean this is a subject you should avoid.How many years do you study for business management? ›
Based on the credits and notional hours of this qualification, the minimum duration is six (6) semesters over a period of three (3) years, and the maximum duration is nine (9) years.What is the most important degree? ›
- Engineering. Engineering professionals use principles of physics and mathematics to design buildings, vehicles, electronics, and other structures. ...
- Business. ...
- Nursing. ...
- Hospitality. ...
- Education. ...
- Computer Science. ...
- Architecture. ...
- Pharmaceutical Sciences.
What is the most flexible business degree? ›
Business Management is an extremely flexible degree that allows you to explore a variety of fields: project management, data analytics, financial decision-making, leadership strategies, human resources, logistics and supply chain issues, and more.What is the best degree for starting your own business? ›
A Bachelor's in Business Administration gives you a solid foundation, along with real-life examples and experience that you can use to nurture your own business idea. Business Administration degree programs teach you the fundamentals of how big and small companies run and where they fit into the global marketplace.Can I work in bank with business administration degree? ›
With a business administration degree, you can start a career in almost any industry: business, consulting, manufacturing, banking, advertising, or even music.What is the difference between a business management degree and a finance degree? ›
The coursework in a business degree varies, but typically covers finance, management, marketing, communications, and related areas of study. Degrees in finance emphasize the workings of financial institutions and cover topics related to both corporate and global finance.Why did you choose business administration major in financial management? ›
I chose to study Financial Management because of the versatility of it's course outline. I also chose this course because right there and then when you finish studying this course it would give multiple working opportunities as well as you can be very versatile into different kinds of job opportunities.What is the lowest degree in accounting? ›
An accounting certificate can be offered at the entry-level to those with no experience in the field or at the post-baccalaureate level for more specialized training in the field. A certificate in accounting can be useful if you want to try working in the field before dedicating two or four years to earn a degree.Is accounting the hardest degree? ›
While accounting does require a complex set of skills and abilities, as well as excellent attention to detail, it really isn't any more difficult than many of the other popular fields of study that lead to excellent lifelong career opportunities.Is accounting a stressful major? ›
Yes, accounting is stressful.
Helping people file their tax returns can also be stressful because they all need it done within a four-month window, and a small mistake can affect both your client and your career. However, your level of stress largely depends on you, your role, and your work environment.
Accounting isn't hard-core math. It's basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Possibly some light, entry-level algebra, but that's it.How do I become a CPA without a degree in accounting? ›
If you don't have an accounting degree, you can still become a CPA, you will likely just need to catch up in the following areas: Earning the minimum number of accounting credit hours. Earning the minimum number of business credit hours. Obtaining relevant experience.
Is a Bachelor Degree in accounting enough? ›
Can a person still get a job in finance even if they have a bachelor's degree in accounting? Yes, and many people do. The reverse is harder, because some accounting certifications such as the CPA require a degree in accounting. Most people don't end up in jobs that match their college majors.Do people with accounting degrees make good money? ›
To summarize, accounting career salaries can range anywhere from $40,000 – $120,000 annually depending on education, certifications, business location, and especially years of experience, with an overall average of $70,000 to $130,000 annually with a 6% job growth rate by the year 2030.Is it hard to get a job with an accounting degree? ›
It can be very difficult to get that first accounting job. Employers want a candidate with accounting experience, but you can't get hired to get the experience. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to get your foot in the door. With a bit of creative thinking, you can persuade an employer to give you a chance.Which is better business finance or accounting? ›
The field of finance offers more career choices but also less predictability. In some cases, careers in finance might offer higher pay. Careers in accounting can offer more predictable and stable work but less pay in many cases.Which is better BBA or accounting? ›
The core difference between these two business programs is the focus on accounting and financial management. BBA focuses on a wide range of business-related subjects whereas accounts and finance are the core subjects of the program BS Accounting and Finance. This eventually leads to the difference in the career path.Is it better to study business or finance? ›
A bachelor's degree in business administration offers a broad grounding in the world of commerce and a bachelor's degree in finance tends to be more specialized, placing greater emphasis on investments and financial institutions. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).Which pays more finance degree or accounting? ›
Based on NACE data, those who had a bachelor's degree in finance tend to have slightly higher starting median incomes than those with accounting degrees. In 2023, the median starting salary for finance majors was $61,456. On the other hand, the median starting salary for accounting majors was $53,444.Are accounting degrees worth it? ›
Is Accounting a Good Major? The short answer is a resounding yes. If you want to work in accounting, finance or business, getting a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting is a great investment in your career.Which accounting degree is best? ›
With a CPA credential you can find more positions at advanced levels. However, to meet the full educational requirements for CPA licensure, many candidates choose to obtain a master's degree. Earning a master's degree in accounting can lead to even more high-level and lucrative positions.Is accounting a hard major? ›
Accounting can be a very challenging major and takes four years of serious commitment to complete. With difficult classes, intense curriculums, and very little free time, many international students find that accounting may not be right for them and decide to leave the field.
Is BBA enough to get a good job? ›
So, if you want to be a marketing guru, a successful business administrator, and a successful manager or want to learn the intricacies and nuances of management and pursue a professional career in banking and finance, BBA would be the most suitable career course for your future.What business degree makes the most money? ›
The highest-paying business majors include marketing, finance, and international business. Management and human resources management also rank in the top five business majors with the highest salary potential.Why do a lot of students choose to study business and finance? ›
Choosing a business degree will give you a good understanding of basic economic principles, how markets are affected by world events, and how to assess a firms' financial health. Combined, this can help you make better-informed investment decisions and ultimately, how to achieve a higher ROI.Why a finance degree is better than accounting? ›
Though there are many differences between finance and accounting, the main thing to note is that those in the finance industry offer more long-term advice, and focus on promoting future growth, whereas accountants advise for short-term impacts.Are accounting majors in demand? ›
The current employment landscape sees a high demand for accounting degree jobs, such as accountants and auditors. According to a report by BLS, employment for auditors and accountants is projected to grow to over 1.4 million by the year 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).