If you have recently been debating, comparing or even just wondering about the differences between earning a degree in business management versus accounting, you’re in the right place.
Given your interests and career aspirations, it’s perfectly understandable that you might not be quite sure which degree is right for you. But we can help.
Let’s start by forgetting all that “advice” you may have received from your sister’s friend’s cousin who never worked in business or management or your mom’s former colleague who once said accounting was a terrible idea for a career. These are opinions that have nothing to do with you, what you want and what you are capable of doing.
Instead, we’re approaching the debate differently. We are going to use cold hard facts to help clarify the differences between business management and accounting—and help you earn the right degree for you.
Business Management vs. Accounting: career growth and job opportunities
Everyone is going to have their own personal opinions or reasons for choosing one field over the other, so let’s start at the beginning.
First, you want to make sure that you are focusing on a field that promises opportunities in both the short and long term. After all, you’re not ready to start working tomorrow. The good news is that the data shows that the job market for business management and accounting is growing.
With double-digit growth projected for both fields, take comfort in the fact that no matter what your final decision will be, you’re targeting a field with job stablilty. And while something like job stabilty may not seem interesting to you now, you will certainly be thankful for it the next time the economy takes a dip.
Projected growth is always promising, but understanding the variety of different types of job opportunities can help point you in the right direction to eventually find a position that best fits your interests, goals and dreams.
To help, we analyzed more than two million job openings over the past year and identified the top eight positions with opportunities that you could pursue.
As more jobs become available and more new positions are created, the need for employees with the appropriate level of knowledge and skill to fill these positions is growing. And if you want to avoid becoming an accountant like Harold Crick in Stranger than Fiction or a manager like Bill Lumbergh in Office Space, it’s crucial you identify positions that fit your personality and style.
Business Management vs. Accounting: salaries
Here it is. The thing you’re not supposed to care about. The subject you never bring up in a first interview. Well, now you don’t have to. Everyone has bills, we recognize that. And it’s OK to be excited about the average salaries for management and accounting positions—especially considering they’re much higher than the national average.
You’ll notice that average salary for a management professional is 25 percent higher than that of an accountant. What you may not realize is that 57 percent of management positions posted online over the last year require four or more years of experience, while 63 percent of accounting positions required less than 4 years.*
Put simply, management professionals earn higher salaries, but it takes the average employee longer to obtain those positions within companies.
For those still earning an hourly paycheck, annual salaries like these are something to get excited about—especially considering the nationwide average salary across all occupations is $33,840. But before you focus too heavily on pay, you need to develop the skills that employers are looking for in candidates.
Business Management vs. Accounting: career skills
After analyzing job listings from the past year we were able to uncover a list of skills needed for these two careers. Understanding the skills needed to work as a management or accounting professional might help you envision what to expect when you’re in the job.
The first thing you’ll notice is that six of the nine skills are shared by both groups—which may be exactly why it can be difficult to choose between the two careers. But pay close attention to the skills that are unique to each field and where they fall on the list.
It makes sense that accounting, bookkeeping and tax preparation are the most common skills required for accounting positions. But for business management positions, we found broader requirements. Management jobs required skills like marketing, sales and process planning. Why do you think that is?
Perhaps, because the role and duties of a manager include obvious skills like problem solving and communication, but also, managers need some expertise in the field they’re managing. For example, a human resources manager will invariably need skills in human resources-related areas.
The difference in skills required among managers and business professionals seems to stem from their varied responsibilities. These career paths may share some similar skill sets, but at their core, the functions of their positions are very different.
And while specific skills and abilities will always vary by positions, becoming aware the different skills needed for these roles can help you determine if your career ambitions best fit with a position in business management or accounting.
Business Management vs. Accounting: degree requirements
For the purpose of planning your education, it’s important to note that more than 75 percent of both management and accounting positions preferred or required candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree.*
That is a key piece of information because as you debate business management versus accounting, it reaffirms that going back to school is a smart choice no matter which path you choose.
Put simply, a bachelor’s degree allows you to pursue to majority of positions available in either field.
Business Management vs. Accounting: tips to help you decide
If you’re thinking that’s a lot of information to consider, you’re right. Each section provides another piece of data that allows you to further narrow down your choice between business management versus accounting.
Regardless of how you do it, the degree you choose to pursue is up to you. Who knows, maybe you just made it. If you are still on the fence, consider these two tips:
1. Review the list of job titles and start envisioning working in that field. What are your day-to-day responsibilities? Which titles would you rather have on your business card? If your list leans toward one or the other, it’s a good indication of your preference.
2. Review the list of required skills for each position. Which ones sound the most interesting to you? Which ones do you still need to develop? Again, keeping track of the skills you have or are planning to develop will help you determine which field is more accessible to you.
If you do decide to pursue a career in either business management or accounting, that’s great. Rasmussen College can help make that happen.
*Source: Burning Glass (Analysis of experience and education requirements for management and accounting positions, Nov. 21, 2012 to Nov. 20, 2013)