Overview of an Associates in Finance
Finance is a broad category for a number of degrees and careers. With a traditional or online degree, you can move into bookkeeping, tax work, or consulting with a variety of clients in nearly any industry. While an online associate will only gain you access to a limited number of entry-level positions, it will give you an introduction to the great variety possible as a professional in finance such as financial analyst, financial managers, corporate finance controller, financial services manager, or even an economics or international business professor if you decide to go into academics. If you are unsure where you want to take your future career, earning an online associate's is the perfect first step to allow you to figure that out, as well as giving finance professionals a way to get into the field as soon as possible. With this you can jump right into a job in the field, gain experience, and earn a living either full-time or while you go back to school to earn a bachelor’s finance program with all of the general education requirements for your preferred specialization or industry.
An associate degree in finance is an entry-level award that can start a career in finance and open the doors to several financial occupations. Unlike a bachelor’s, an associate's requires about 60 credit hours and students can complete the coursework in two years, though there are some accelerated online programs as well. Given the costs of education, the savings of two years of tuition, fees, and living expenses can be a critical factor for many families. Associate's create earning power above and beyond that available to the average person with a high school diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that associate degree holders make more than high school graduates. In 2017, the median for associate degree grads was $836 per week, and high school graduates earned a median wage of $712.
Employers require a bachelor’s level education for many finance professionals and may want a master's for those working as financial managers. The bachelor’s curriculum includes more extensive coursework whether it is taken online or in-person, and graduates can enter the job force with a broader and deeper set of skills and knowledge than they can with an associate's. The student must also consider the limitations of an associate degree; some career goals are more easily accomplished with a bachelor’s, such as the earning of certain credentials/certifications. For example, students that achieve a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school may be eligible to sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst Level I exam or complete the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) designation. Further, students that wish to advance to upper management may need a master’s in finance, which you can’t even begin without a bachelor’s degree.
Certificate Vs. Associate's
A certificate differs from an online associate's, though both can be found at many online and community colleges. An online associate degree represents an achievement in general education. The certificate is more focused and designed to certify or prove competence in a narrow area or niche, allowing you to take a few courses online and then get started right away in your career. The certificate differs from the associate's in terms of costs, time to complete, and uses for advancement.
The certificate is an end to itself. Usually, it does not provide academic credit toward a bachelor’s. The certificate is also quicker than an online associate; online and in-person certificate programs usually run for one year or less. The certificate is for people that possess a required level of education and experience. The acceptance requirements differ from an online associate program, which typically do not require specialized education or experience.
What Finance Associate Degrees are Available?
An online associate degree generally takes two years to complete. In terms of general education, it can resemble the first half of a bachelor’s, which takes four years to complete. Associate degrees are popular among students that seek to earn their education quickly and also among those who seek a bachelor’s or more. An associate degree typically is substantially less expensive than attending an undergraduate institution and there are just as many associate degrees to be found online as there are bachelor's, if not more.
A graduate of an online associate program is equipped for employment in occupations in which employers seek at least some level of college education. Those students who aim to earn associate degrees usually fall into two broad categories. First, some students are preparing for further education and earn Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees. Other students are preparing to enter an occupation or profession. These students often opt for ‘applied’ science or art degrees.
- An Associate of Science in Finance (AS) is a two year degree that focuses on the field of finance. The associate of science may have more math, computer, and technology coursework, along with similar topics like statistics.
- An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in finance is a career: oriented degree with a lower number of general education classes and a higher number of practical courses than the AA or AS degrees. Students that wish to enter the field but do not expect to complete an undergraduate degree can select these courses to meet their goals.
- An Associate of Arts in Finance (AA) is a two: year degree with courses that cover general knowledge and broad areas of study. In the finance sector, this degree prepares students to complete a bachelor’s degree at a later time.
- An Associate of Applied Business (AAB) prepares: students to work in corporate and organizational roles including small businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurship. Students study the practical aspects of business including management, marketing, accounting, and legal aspects.
- An Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) is a degree: program designed to help students enter the job market upon graduation. These courses of study have a sharp focus on hands-on training and learning in real-world environments.
Each school sets their own admissions standards for associate degree programs. The basic requirement is the completion of a high school education either by diploma, GED, or home study. Schools require transcripts from high school and any online or in-person college work completed. Typical requirements also include some form of essay, personal information, and test scores from standard tests like the SAT or the ACT.
Online programs offer process admissions without a personal meeting. However, applicants should engage the school and at least speak by telephone with admissions officials. This not only helps the applicant by answering questions and reducing concerns, but it can also streamline the admission process by allowing you to get a clearer picture of the requirements.
Schools must commit time and resources to review applications. The schools often cover their costs by charging application fees. Many schools may waive or reduce the fee should it interfere with the student’s ability to apply for admission.
How long does it take to earn a Finance Associates?
An online associate degree in finance usually takes about 60 semester hours. This is roughly 20 college-level courses or labs. Some courses of study also require internships in settings such as offices, training facilities, or commercial locations. Students can pursue an associate degree in finance on a full-time basis and complete it within two years, they may elect a part-time approach and complete the degree in three or more years, or they may find an accelerated program. Online study may reduce the time needed to complete the degree. Many students wanting to finish more quickly take additional online courses during the school year and in the summer session. By adding an extra course and using the summer session, students can reduce the time needed to as little as 18 months.
Potential Careers in Finance with an Associates
The below-listed items describe careers and positions for those with an associate degree in finance.
- Financial Analysts examine trends and information in various markets such as investments. They can serve within an organization to analyze internal processes, and they can help plan for the best gains under various potential economic situations. The national average salary is $61,400.
- Financial Clerks help businesses and organizations manage their pay and benefits programs to be sure that all employees receive proper and timely payments. Clerks can have responsibility for organizational functions such as payroll or larger processes such as accounts payable and receivable. The national average salary is $34,800.
- Personal Financial Advisors help individuals, families, and businesses develop their assets for income and security, aiming for the best possible outcome. Personal financial advice is a growing industry as more families learn the benefits of personal economic planning. The national average salary is $63,900.
- Real Estate Analysts provide expertise in the valuation and other decisions concerning property. They pay attention to markets and trends and can help determine the best time as well as options for organizational action. These can include leasing, buying, and acquiring property or property rights. The national average salary is $60,200.
- Sales Managers are important positions in businesses that obtain income for the company from commercial and other types of sales. These roles involve setting goals, managing staff in an office, professional communications, policy creation, and working with and analysis of customers and accounts. The associate degree in finance helps students gain a basic understanding in these skills. The national average salary is $61,300.
Options to Advance
An online associate degree can be an excellent starting point for a finance career. Students can begin at entry-level positions in small, medium, or large organizations. Some students may start businesses and begin a career as an entrepreneur. Whether the associate is an AA, AS, AAS, or AAA type degree, students can work with colleges or universities to transfer some or all their credits toward a traditional or online bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s level, when added to prior work experience, can propel a career into upward mobility. By completing an online bachelor’s and a focused field of study, you can find new and higher paying opportunities.
Online associate degree holders can also enhance their skills by further coursework without an advanced degree, and this can add depth and focus to a skill set. Some occupations benefit from certifications from industry organizations that can provide a higher level of skill and knowledge than other candidates.
Best Associate of Science in Finance Programs
Lone Star College
Ranked among the top schools in Texas, Lone Star College offers excellent student to faculty ratios and faculty strengths in business disciplines, including accounting and finance. The school equips students for leadership tracks in finance, accounting, and business.
- Associate of Arts - Business
- Associate of Arts Degree
City University of New York (CUNY)
New York, NY
Located in the city of New York, a leading global financial center, CUNY - Manhattan is an ideal place to study and work in the field of finance. Students can take advantage of outstanding opportunities to learn, seek internships, and get instruction from industry leaders.
- AS in Financial Management
- AS Business Administration
Northwest Arkansas Community College
NWACC prepares graduates for careers in finance and banking including further education to the bachelor’s level. Students can complete the degree up to 95% online. The degree programs have accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
- Associate of Science in Business
- AAS in Banking and Finance
- AAS in Accounting Technology
Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)
Located near the bustling national capitol, NOVA offers a convenient location and a wealth of public resources for learning. The faculty draws from a deep pool of financial and academic sources in the Washington, Maryland, and Virginia areas.
- Accounting A.A.S.
- Business Management: A.A.S.
- Business Administration A.S.
Portland Community College
Portland Community College offers business and accounting degrees with finance elements and coursework. The preparatory degree for a bachelor’s degree provides a solid foundation in finance and financial management.
- Associate of Science Oregon Transfer-Business Degree (ASOT-Business)
- Associate Applied Science: Accounting
- Associate of Applied Science: Management
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Finance
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Davenport University has seven locations in Michigan and an online learning division. The online division has three finance programs at the associate degree level. Among its 50 academic programs are associate degrees in business admin and finance.
- Associate of Business Administration
- Associate of Business Administration, Finance
- Associate of Business Administration, Accounting
Franklin University is a regionally accredited institution approved by the Higher Learning Commission. Franklin University offers online courses of study leading to Associate of Science degrees in financial management and other finance-based disciplines.
- A.S. Accounting
- A.S. Financial Management
- A.S. Forensic Accounting
- A.S. Insurance
Houston Community College
HCC offers education, training, and degrees through its Business Center of Excellence. HCC is Institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). The American Bankers Association and the American Institute of Banking endorsed the HCC banking and finance program.
- AAS in Finance/Banking
- Certificate Level 1 – Finance and Banking
Columbus State Community College
This large college emphasizes its connections with Ohio employers and the regional economy. The school prides itself on producing graduates that succeed in the workplace. CSCC has HLC accreditation and business program accreditation by the ACBSP.
- AAS in Finance
- Associate of Applied Science in Finance
- Business Associate of Arts Degree
- Associate of Applied Science in Business Management
North Hennepin Community College
Brooklyn Park, MN
This large Midwestern college has HLC accreditation and strong resources for transferring credits to four-year institutions. The business degree options have finance focus or emphasis including an AAS in finance management.
- Associate Applied Science in Finance Management
- Business Transfer Pathway (AS)
- Business Computer Systems and Management (AAS)
- Entrepreneurship (AAS)
- Finance Management (AAS)
- Management (AAS)
- Marketing (AAS)
Business Degrees & Career Paths