Business vs Accounting: Career Paths, Salaries & Which Degree to Choose

business vs accounting

For students interested in business, choosing a degree that will be useful in the future is very important. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that business degrees are some of the most popular choices for college students, highlighting their value across many fields. Learning how to manage a business and handle money are two key skills needed to grow a successful business.

Two of the most in-demand courses that teach these skills are business management and accounting. Both programs focus on essential business knowledge, but how do they compare when it comes to salary and career opportunities?

What Is Business Management?

Business management involves learning how to oversee and direct different parts of a company. It teaches you how to manage people, projects, and daily operations effectively.

What You Learn in Business Management:

In a business management program, you’ll study:

  • Management Principles: How to lead teams and make decisions.
  • Financial Management: Basics of accounting and managing money.
  • Marketing: Ways to promote products or services.
  • Human Resources: Hiring, training, and managing employees.
  • Project Management: Planning and completing projects successfully.
  • Business Ethics and Law: Understanding the legal and ethical side of business.

Skills from Business Management:

With a degree in business management, you’ll gain skills like:

  • Leadership: Leading teams and making strategic decisions.
  • Communication: Speaking and writing clearly and effectively.
  • Problem-Solving: Finding solutions to business challenges.
  • Project Management: Organizing tasks and resources to meet goals.
  • Customer Relations: Managing relationships with clients and customers.
  • Strategic Planning: Planning for the long-term success of the business.

What Is Accounting?

Accounting focuses on tracking and analyzing financial information. It involves keeping accurate records of transactions and ensuring financial statements are correct and follow rules.

What You Learn in Accounting:

In an accounting program, you’ll study:

  • Financial Accounting: Recording and reporting financial transactions.
  • Managerial Accounting: Using financial data to help make decisions.
  • Taxation: Understanding tax laws and preparing tax returns.
  • Auditing: Checking financial records for accuracy and compliance.
  • Cost Accounting: Analyzing costs related to making products.
  • Business Analytics: Using data to inform financial decisions.

Skills from Accounting:

With a degree in accounting, you’ll develop skills such as:

  • Math Skills: Accurate calculations and financial analysis.
  • Attention to Detail: Keeping precise financial records.
  • Technical Skills: Using accounting software and tools.
  • Analytical Thinking: Understanding and interpreting financial data.
  • Ethics: Following ethical standards in financial reporting.
  • Regulatory Knowledge: Knowing and following financial regulations.

Salary Compensation for Business Management and Accounting Careers

Business Management

Salaries in business management can vary widely based on the job title, industry, and location. Here are some examples of median annual wages for common business management roles:

  1. Sales Manager: Around $132,290
  2. Business Consultant: Approximately $87,660
  3. Market Research Analyst: About $65,810
  4. Logistician: Roughly $76,270
  5. Human Resources Manager: About $121,220
  6. Operations Manager: Roughly $100,780
  7. Product Manager: Approximately $115,000


Accounting professionals also enjoy competitive salaries, with earnings depending on experience, specialization, and location. Here are some median annual wages for key accounting positions:

  1. Accountant: Around $77,250
  2. Budget Analyst: Approximately $78,970
  3. Auditor: About $77,250
  4. Financial Analyst: Roughly $83,660
  5. Tax Accountant: Approximately $70,500
  6. Forensic Accountant: About $80,180
  7. Controller: Roughly $130,000

Comparing Potential for Business Management and Accounting

When comparing salaries, top management positions like CEOs and CFOs in business administration generally command higher salaries than typical accounting roles. However, specialized accounting positions, such as Audit Partners, can also offer substantial earnings, sometimes exceeding $200,000 annually.

Which Path Is Better for You?

Choosing between business management and accounting comes down to your career goals and what you enjoy doing.

Business Management Benefits:

  1. Leadership Opportunities: If you like leading teams, making big decisions, and guiding companies toward their goals, business management is a good fit.
  2. Versatility: Business management skills can be used in many industries like healthcare, finance, retail, and more, giving you a lot of job options.
  3. Growth Potential: There are plenty of chances to move up to higher positions like Director, Vice President, or even CEO.
  4. Strategic Impact: You’ll play a key role in shaping the company’s future and driving its success.

Accounting Benefits:

  1. Specialized Knowledge: If you love working with numbers and detailed financial tasks, accounting offers a focused career path.
  2. High Demand: There is always a need for skilled accountants, so job stability is strong.
  3. Diverse Roles: Accounting allows you to work in various areas like auditing, taxation, forensic accounting, and financial analysis.
  4. Ethical and Regulatory Insight: You’ll learn about ethical standards and regulations, which are important for keeping financial records accurate and compliant.

Choosing Between Business Management and Accounting

If you’re unsure whether to choose business management or accounting, consider exploring both programs. Each field offers excellent career opportunities and the potential for high earnings. By trying both, you might discover a unique combination of skills that suits you perfectly.

You can look for universities that offer dual degrees or combined programs in business management and accounting. Enrolling in elective courses in a field you are less familiar with can help you gain basic knowledge. Participating in internships in both areas will give you hands-on experience and help you see what you enjoy most. Additionally, consider obtaining certifications in both fields, such as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) for accounting and a PMP (Project Management Professional) for management.

Remember, the best choice is the one that aligns with your strengths and what you enjoy doing. Take the time to think about your interests and career goals to make an informed decision for your future. Whether you pursue business management, accounting, or a mix of both, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful and fulfilling career.


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