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Economics or accounting?

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August 19, 2010 – Comments (20)

I am entering my senior year of college. I was a marketing major but hated it so I just switched to economics (still haven't taken any classes on it)

I took all my core and business classes. I have 7 major classes to take now

I can't do finance or I would graduate late (complicated structure) so I plan on taking finance for my mba

Should I go with economics or accounting given the following:

1) Honestly most of all I want a job that pays well in business related field. I feel that with accounting its so much easier to get a job because I can be an accountant

2) What I really want to do is be a portfolio planner or some kind of security analysis or trader, etc. Economics will probably help me know more than there with general investing, but accounting will help me see if their books are for real or cooked

3) Accounting would help me probably save on taxes and general loopholes to save me money

4) I'm a little more interested in economics and I would probably learn better chart analysis skills with econ

Keep in mind that in my school econ is a business major unlike other schools where its a policital science major

20 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 19, 2010 at 12:45 PM, outoffocus (23.50) wrote:

1) Honestly most of all I want a job that pays well in business related field. I feel that with accounting its so much easier to get a job because I can be an accountant

I think if you declared accounting now you would take just as long if not longer to graduate than Finance. Most accounting programs are geared toward the CPA exam which means there are a set number of subjects that MUST be covered in order to get an accounting degree. Not to mention that in most states you need 150 credit hours to get a CPA license.

Don't be fooled by accounting I & II (which were easy classes IMHO).  Once you get to intermediate its a whole other ballgame.  Intermediate accounting is like the weed-out class to determine whether you really have what it takes to get an accounting degree.

Considering everything you mentioned above, I would go with the Finance degree and maybe get your MBA and/or the CFA after you graduate.

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#2) On August 19, 2010 at 12:58 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

With my school I can get accounting and not finance because I happened to have taken all the prereqs whereas with finance, there's one class I would need to take before any of the other ones, so basically next semester I would only be able to take one class. I don't want to graduate late

And I'm smart and work hard, not scared of intermediate acccounting

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#3) On August 19, 2010 at 1:05 PM, Melaschasm (53.71) wrote:

CPA is nice to have on your resume, but it will be difficult to pass the test with just one year of accounting classes.  An accounting degree requires memorizing vast numbers of rules and regulations, many of which make little or no sense.  Economics is much more about theory and logic, although it can be math heavy at times.

Economics and accounting are both usefull for stock investing, it is more a matter of which type of investor you want to be.  Accounting will help you read details about a company, while economics will help you understand the larger markets.

IMO you are better off studying that which you enjoy, since you will remember more of what you are taught, and it will be easier to get good grades.

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#4) On August 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM, outoffocus (23.50) wrote:

3) Accounting would help me probably save on taxes and general loopholes to save me money

Uh...not necessarily.  Congress changes tax law like conservative talking heads change wives...

...But seriously.  Because of the nature of Federal tax law, by the time you pass you Tax I class, half the material you learned probably will no longer be relevant. The key to taxes is, whether you are in school or not, you have to keep up on tax law changes.  Case in point: the expiring Bush tax cuts.

 What is helpful is when you learn about business taxes.  The laws don't really change much and its a much needed skill in the small business world.

4) I'm a little more interested in economics and I would probably learn better chart analysis skills with econ

Again I would defer that to the finance degree.  Most of the stock charting and financial ratio skills are taught in finance classes (I minored in finance).

Either way, good luck on whatever you decide.

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#5) On August 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM, rd80 (97.08) wrote:

I believe accounting would be more useful for your goal of security analysis.

I don't know for sure, but suspect accounting would also open up more job opportunities

That said - "I'm a little more interested in economics..." tells me you already have the answer to your question.

Just what the world needs, another economist ;)  Be a good one.

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#6) On August 19, 2010 at 1:35 PM, Evlampius (< 20) wrote:

i think you should be a go.ve.rmnen.t empployee, definitely could use some smart, hard working people in the go.ve.rmnen.t.

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#7) On August 19, 2010 at 1:42 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

I'm not an academic advisor, but is there any chance that you can take an independent study that qualifies for the required class that you need that will solve both your problems.....that you want to continue with finance but you don't want it to set you back an additional semester?   Depending on the flexibility of your department head and dean, it might be a possibility.

If Finance is what you want, I agree with those that said that finance is what you should do.   I graduated a year later to finish out the degree that I really wanted, rather than graduating with the degree that I started with and it has made all the difference in my personal success and happiness.   Don't graduate just to graduate.   Graduate with the degree that most represents what you want to do.   Maybe pick up a useful minor or set of classes that can help you with your additional focus.....perhaps a language like Mandarin or geography?   These are useful in a world economy.     

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#8) On August 19, 2010 at 2:09 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

Oh yeah, and the sooner that you learn to answer a question like "Accounting or Economics?" with an answer that gets at the root of the problem, rather than picking one of them, the better off you will be in life.    You'll get a lot of people in business that will ask you a question like that and the real answer is neither.   

An education isn't a race to get a degree, it is an investment in a potential career.  

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#9) On August 19, 2010 at 3:19 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

Yeah, but I read a lot on my own, and everybody tells me that your undergrad usually doesnt do squat compared to on the job training.

Theoretically you are right but in the real world it unfortunately is a race to get a degree.

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#10) On August 19, 2010 at 4:02 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

You don't think I live in the real world?    

First you need to make up your mind on whether you are for sure going to get an MBA right after you graduate or whether you are going to try and get a job with your undergrad.  

If you are going to get a job with your undergrad, you better believe that the degree you get is going to affect the opportunities that are available to you.   Otherwise, you are going to start accumulating real world experience in a field that isn't going to get you toward your goal.   You think wasting one semester is bad?  Try wasting several years in a field that you never intended to be in that doesn't get you any closer to your goals.   Penny-wise, dollar foolish.  

All job training is not created equal.  

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#11) On August 19, 2010 at 4:10 PM, outoffocus (23.50) wrote:

You think wasting one semester is bad?  Try wasting several years in a field that you never intended to be in that doesn't get you any closer to your goals.   Penny-wise, dollar foolish.  

Not only that but with today's job market the way it is, its becoming increasingly difficult to transition out of a certain career path once you enter into it. Right now recruiters could care less what you want to do, they only care what's on your resume (unless its sales). In other words, good luck trying to get a job in economics or finance with an accounting degree. In this market the only jobs you'll qualify are accounting and auditing.

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#12) On August 19, 2010 at 4:21 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

I am going to try to get a job and then get an MBA a few years later.

I tried to take a CLEP exam to knock out that one class but I couldn't.

Can I even get a job with an econ degree? What would I even be able to do with that?

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#13) On August 19, 2010 at 4:24 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

In fact, you might be better off taking the year of light class-load as you transition to finance to offer yourself FOR FREE to a portfolio manager to do their research dirty work for a semester and get some of that "real world" resume-building experience that is actually useful.   If you're lucky, you'll make yourself so valuable to him/her that you'll be able to parlay it into a real internship.  

That's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that a hiring manager would really appreciate.  

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#14) On August 19, 2010 at 4:38 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

Well, I currently have an internship with LPL financial (#1 private firm in the country). I don't do much but telemarketing and errands, but I do talk to them a lot and learn, I pitch them stock ideas and they pitch me some too.  I am also joining an investing club this year, and my mom is a senior VP at Citi, so she has friends in Smith Barney and I think one of them said she will try to get me on their team when I graduate. I am also friends with the CEO of Mastercard.  So for the most part I am just trying to actually learn rather than get connections.

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#15) On August 19, 2010 at 4:50 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

Well, it sounds like you've got plenty of people to take care of you and I've wasted my time giving you a lot of good advice that you don't need because you can use your connections to get everything you need.   I'm done here.  

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#16) On August 19, 2010 at 4:58 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

I didn't mean to offend you, and I appreciate your advice a lot.  What I mean though, is I am more interested in learning about what will actually help me investing than trying to get an internship. And since I have the connections, I don't want to waste an extra semester.

Hence the title being "Economics or accounting" and not "Economics, Accounting, or Finance + how to get an internship?"

What you said was sound, but it wasn't the question I was asking, but I do appreciate it.

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#17) On August 19, 2010 at 5:11 PM, JaysRage (88.84) wrote:

1) Honestly most of all I want a job that pays well in business related field. I feel that with accounting its so much easier to get a job because I can be an accountant

My advice was focused here since that was your primary stated objective.  Let's have a reality check here.   This statement does not apply to you.   Clearly you have options that most graduates could only dream about.   You don't have to follow the road most traveled.   You have access to the people that can get you hired and your most important #1 objective is not to get a job in a business related field.   You just want the shortest route to graduation that can get you at least something that can help you as a portfolio manager.  

You're doing the right thing asking the questions that you are, but if you want advice from people who have had to do things the hard way, you're much better off not letting them know what kind of advantages you have.    

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#18) On August 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM, Valyooo (99.54) wrote:

Don't make me out to be some rich preppy kid, I am far from it.  I never met my dad, grew up in Brooklyn, my family was on welfare when I was born.  My mom had me when she was 18.  She busted her freaking butt her entire life and all of the connections I have are through her, and all the connections she has are through being nice and hardwork.  The rest of the connections I made myself through hardwork and being nice.  I didn't buy my way into anything, and although my mom can give me nice connections (CEO of MA used to work with my mom at Citi), it isn't a guarantee, and I am not in any elite social clubs, so I am not guaranteed a good job, just have an edge up on the average person.

I have never really gotten anything the "Easy way", but I think I might when it comes to jobs.

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#19) On August 21, 2010 at 5:29 PM, Mstinterestinman (25.33) wrote:

I'm an accounting major I would reccomend that or finance if you want to do security analysis. Jusat my take I actually want to open my business maybe even my own tech company and figure if I know foresnsic accounting I can fill the CFO role as well :)

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#20) On September 15, 2010 at 4:35 PM, LucaP (< 20) wrote:

Accounting is more valuable than undergraduate economics and should be a prerequisite to economic studies.

Don't miss an opportunity to learn accounting or double entry bookkeeping. 

How can one understand real economics without understanding bookkeeping?  Bookkeeping covers almost all types of transactions and record keeping.  It is more than a way of keeping score.  Since we are in the days of 401-Ks, the modern substitution to retirement plans where one has to invest for them selves, accounting is a must know skill.

 If you choose economics pick up double entry bookkeeping for your self.  With that background you might find the neoclassical economics you learn sorely lacking the ability to explain things clearly and why.  At least you will probably realize there is a lot missing quantitatively in many economic models.

May I suggest reading Luca Pacioli's Treaste translated in "Ancient Double Entry Bookkeeping".  It is known as the first surviving explanations of double entry book keeping from Venice.  It is quite short for a complete treatment of accounting even seems modern.  It was written shortly after Gutenburg and right near the "rediscovery" of the "new" worlds.  (New to who?)  It may be one of the most important and valuable books ever written.  It is freely available in google books.  

Most people have no idea how important accounting is in historical and modern times.

On economics, you might learn more from the writings of Steve Keen an economics professor from Australia.  He is an innovator and a historian of economics with a modern math education who has brought to light classical criticisms of theories considered modern.  He is one of the clearest thinkers I know on economics.  He is known on the internet as one of the few economists who predicted the "global financial crisis".  His most interesting papers might be easier indexed together on google scholar.  His websites can be accessed from www.debtdeflation.com.

 

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