Working in finance is one of the most demanding yet rewarding careers available on the job market today. No matter whether you’re working as a senior director or you’re a new starter who is part of a dynamic team, it’s likely that you’ll be working in an environment in which you’re exposed to lots of interesting work and people – and it’s definitely the case that your salary will probably start looking healthy either right away or after a few years in. What’s the best route into a career like this, and how can you take steps to get started?
The most obvious educational route to go down if you want to enter a commercially oriented profession such as finance, of course, is business, and a good chunk of finance industry workers have a business qualification – often to degree level. By studying at a college of business or at a business college online, you can maximize your chances of securing your preferred job when you graduate.
However, depending on the exact role that you go for, you might not even need a business qualification at all: essay-based subjects such as history demonstrate an in-demand analytical mindset, while science subjects show handy numeracy and quantitative thinking skills. Consumer-focused bank roles located in towns and small cities might simply require you to have a high school-level education rather than a degree – so there’s plenty of flexibility and choice.
Scouting out information on the web and posting on careers advice forums is a good way to work out what financial services role your educational profile is likely to suit – and if you’re lucky enough to know someone who already works at a bank or other financial institution, then it may be worth asking them for some insider information.
For those who join banks and financial institutions at their headquarters in major cities such as New York and London, the main route into the industry is through the coveted summer internship. Usually, an intern will be a student who is currently at college, and who will soon be looking for work in the financial sector as a graduate. When the internship is completed, they will in most cases be offered a role for when they graduate. The advantage of this system is that it’s a chance for comprehensive training, but the disadvantage is that it’s usually only open to people at this specific stage in their lives.
For those who are searching for roles in local banks, meanwhile, work experience (as opposed to a formal city internship) is often the key. If you’re the parent of a high school student thinking about a career in financial services, then it’s likely to be worth going along to the local bank and asking if they would allow a high schooler to come in and get a feel for how the place works. If you’re at a later stage in life, then it may be possible to get a foot in the door by working in a junior role, such as a trainee teller, before you’re able to climb the ladder to a more responsible position.
While there are clearly several formal routes into the finance sector, it’s important to remember that this is a dynamic and innovative industry that rewards a whole host of different attitudes and behaviors. If you can demonstrate that you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset, for example, then you may well be able to jump the queue even if you’ve not previously had financial sector work experience.
If you’ve run your own business before, then you can use this experience to show that you’re commercially savvy and may be suited to a financial products sales role. Or you may also be able to use your experience to show that you’re a highly numerate person, which is a useful skill to those working as a teller. While this is clearly not a guaranteed route into the finance sector, it’s definitely one that has worked for some people – and may also work for you.
The financial sector is full of great opportunities, and from interesting work to attractive salaries, it’s clear why jobs in the sector are in high demand. Depending on your location, age and skill set, there’s likely to be a banking or financial sector role that is right for you. Whether you’re selling mortgages and loans to local community members in your Main Street branch or you’re a high-flying Wall Street banker, there’s a role well-suited to everyone in this vast and diverse industry.