Marketing vs. Finance: Which Degree Is Right for Me?

split screen of the desk of a marketer and the desk of a finance professional

You’re interested in a business career, but the options are overwhelming. There’s a seemingly limitless number of business degrees and programs available, and you’re having trouble keeping them all straight. From accounting to human resources to management, there’s a lot to consider as you search for the right fit.

To help you narrow it down, we’ve provided a side-by-side comparison of two top business fields: marketing versus finance.

Finance and marketing are two of the most popular business majors to pursue. Whether you’re leaning toward the more creative side of marketing or favoring the analytical side of finance, this article can help you clarify which degree is right for you.

Marketing vs. finance: The basics

You may think you know what a business degree entails, but “business” is a broad term that encompasses many varying programs and career paths. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a major, but first you need to understand the different functions of finance and marketing.

Marketing is the process of introducing buyers (either consumers or businesses) to the products or services a company offers. This is done through traditional channels—like TV ads, radio ads or billboards—and through digital marketing channels, like blogs, videos and social media. Digital marketing is constantly changing and increasing its scope to include avenues like content marketing, search engine optimization and email marketing.

Finance, on the other hand, is all about budgeting money and assets. It is similar to accounting in that it involves computation and investments. However, those who study and work in finance will understand how to effectively manage debt, properly manage an investment portfolio and efficiently monitor financial markets and trends.

Marketing vs. finance: Common job titles

Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of finance and marketing, you may be curious to see what you can do with a degree in each of those fields.

We rounded up some of the job titles you’re likely to encounter in finance and marketing. This includes career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighting salaries, job outlook projections, and common job duties so you can get a feel for what the basic day-to-day of each position entails.

Common marketing job titles

1. Marketing manager

  • Common duties:
    • Create marketing strategies from objectives and market characteristics
    • Promote services or products through various marketing activities
    • Describe product offerings and create strategies on pricing
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 8 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $132,6201

2. Sales representative

  • Common duties:
    • Identify prospective customers and follow sales leads
    • Communicate with prospective customers about the features of products or offerings
    • Build and maintain customer relationships through regular check-ins
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 2 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $61,6601

3. Market research analyst

  • Common duties:
    • Gather data on market conditions and possible sales of a product
    • Determine company’s position in the market and compare to competitors’ prices and sales
    • Collect statistics and information through surveys, polls and questionnaires
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 20 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $63,1201

4. Communications specialists

  • Common duties:
    • Create, maintain and promote public image of company through media
    • Form beneficial relationships between company and consumers, communities or public interest groups
    • Determine objectives and needs of different companies and develop strategies to promote products or services
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 6 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $60,0001

5. Digital marketing specialist

  • Common duties:
    • Develop digital strategies to promote visibility and engagement of a product or service
    • Analyze online consumer behaviors in relation to the product and market
    • Monitor and measure outcomes and data for further optimization
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 7–10 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $90,2701

Common finance job titles

1. Financial analyst

  • Common duties:
    • Report on current and past financial data
    • Determine a company’s value and prospects through financial statements and meetings
    • Gather trends and statistics and build investment portfolios
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 6 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $85,6601

2. Accountant

  • Common duties:
    • Keep records of company’s assets, liabilities, taxes and profits
    • Analyze financial statements and reports for standardization and accuracy
    • Organize tax returns and reports to meet tax requirements and standards
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 6 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $70,5001

3. Business analyst

  • Common duties:
    • Research systems and operations that assist management in working more efficiently
    • Gather and analyze data to develop solutions
    • Follow through with implementation and monitoring of the effectiveness of new strategies
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 14 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $83,6101

4. Budget analyst

  • Common duties:
    • Examine budget estimates for accuracy and conformance with procedures
    • Analyze monthly department budgeting and accounting reports
    • Assist business leaders on cost analysis, fiscal allocation and budget preparation
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 4–6 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $76,2201

5. Financial controller

  • Common duties:
    • Assist companies or organizations in making financial decisions
    • Create and monitor budgets, financial plans and investments
    • Write and review business reports, financial forecasts and annual budgets
  • Projected employment growth (2018 – 2028): 16 percent1
  • 2018 median annual salary: $127,9901

Marketing vs. finance: Required skills

These jobs may sound interesting, but they aren’t for just anyone. Positions in either field require a specific set of skills. We looked into data from thousands of job postings to find the top skills required in both marketing and finance.

Take a look at these in-demand skills in finance and marketing so you can gain a better understanding of which positions could be a good fit for you.

Marketing skills in demand:2

  • Social media
  • Project management
  • Budgeting
  • Product management
  • Customer service
  • Digital marketing
  • Market strategy
  • Sales
  • Scheduling
  • Market research

Finance skills in demand:3

  • Customer service
  • Accounting
  • Budgeting
  • Financial analysis
  • Account reconciliation
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial statements
  • General ledger
  • Scheduling
  • Data entry

You probably noticed that finance and marketing share some common skills. Marketing and finance serve different purposes in the business field, but they do share some overlap in job duties like budget management and project management, as well as using software like Excel.

Marketing vs. finance: Education requirements

Don’t worry if the skills above sound intimidating. No one expects you to know how to perform financial analysis or create an effective digital marketing strategy without the proper training. That’s where finance and marketing degree programs come in.

Not all jobs in these fields require a degree, but many do. Our research of current job postings revealed that 87 percent of marketing employers and 67 percent of finance positions are seeking candidates with a bachelor’s degree.2, 3

In addition to boosting your hiring potential, the right education also prepares you for the workforce by training you in the specific skills employers are looking for. These breakdowns give you an idea of what you can expect if you major in marketing vs finance.

Marketing degree program

A marketing education will teach you about sales and marketing strategies, as well as up-to-date best practices in digital marketing. These are some of the courses you can expect to take as a Marketing student as Rasmussen College.

Marketing courses

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Business Project Management
  • Strategic Sales and Sales Management
  • Foundations of Digital Marketing
  • Marketing Communications

Finance degree program

Finance students gain a foundation in the principles of financial management. They grow their critical-thinking skills and learn how and when to take risks and to manage a financial portfolio. These are some of the classes Finance students can look forward to at Rasmussen College.

Finance courses

  • Money and Banking
  • Investments and Security Markets
  • International Finance
  • Applications in Corporate Finance
  • Risk Management

Marketing vs. finance: The decision is yours

We’ve explained finance and marketing so you have a better idea of what these fields entail and which one is the best option for you. In the end, marketing versus finance is your choice to make. If strategically connecting with consumers to make a sale sounds like it’s up your alley, check out our article, “Should I Be a Marketing Major? Everything You Need to Know to Decide.”

If the numbers, analysis and risk assessment of finance sound like the right fit, read up on these “9 Signs You Have What It Takes to Major in Finance.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed December, 2019] 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. Employment conditions in your area may vary. (analysis of 696,036 marketing job postings, Dec. 01, 2018–Nov. 30, 2019) (analysis of 1,976,266 finance job postings, Dec. 01, 2018–Nov. 30, 2019)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.

About the author

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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