If you’re interested in pursuing a lucrative, rewarding career, you won’t find many better options than investment banking. So, how do you get into investment banking?
There are very few entry-level jobs that offer six-figure salaries, but investment banking is one of them. Experienced senior professionals earn tens of millions of dollars each year.
Breaking into this field is difficult and requires a combination of skills, hard work, ambition, and education. If you’re a high school student interested in becoming an investment banker, this guide will set you on the right track.
Here’s how to get into investment banking after graduating high school.
What Does an Investment Banker Do?
Investment bankers work with some of the world’s richest people. Essentially, they spend their time working with businesspeople and investors to conveniently make major deals.
You’ll do things such as arrange mergers and acquisitions of Fortune 500 companies and organize public offerings of private companies. Working in investment banking is best compared to working in high-risk and high-dollar sales.
If you’re a high school student, it’s okay if you’re not sure if investment banking is right for you. After all, it’s not a traditional career path that most elementary students think of when they’re figuring out their dreams.
However, people who are hard workers generally do quite well in this challenging field. As an investment banker, you’ll likely work more than 80 hours per week. You’ll need to have great attention to detail and take direction well. You should be strong in mathematics, particularly in finance and accounting, as well as possess basic technology skills, too.
What Should I Be Doing in High School to Get Into Investment Banking?
Although the most important thing you can do in high school is to focus on your grades, you should also look into some side work and experiences that will prepare you for this challenging field.
One good option? Start a side business. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be something as simple as mowing lawns. However, this experience will show colleges that you have the drive and hardworking attitude it takes to succeed in investment banking.
You should also join clubs that will prepare you for a future in business, such as FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America). Both of these organizations can prepare you for careers in fields like marketing, finance, management, and hospitality. Many have branches that extend to college campuses. Even if your high school doesn’t have an active branch of these clubs, you can always join from afar and engage in remote or regional events.
What Classes Should I Be Taking in High School to Become an Investment Banker?
While your class choices will be somewhat limited by what your high school actually offers, there are some prerequisite courses offered by most schools that will serve you well in this field.
It is going to be most important that you spend some time honing your math skills. Courses like AP Calculus and AP Statistics will be best, but if your school does not offer them, even an honors-level mathematics class will do.
Other classes like economics and business law can be helpful, as can courses in more technologically-focused subjects like computer science and programming. It is important that your grades aren’t high just in mathematics and computers, either, but across the board. Most universities will want to see a candidate who is well-rounded and disciplined enough to succeed in all content areas.
What College Should I Go to in Order to Get into Investment Banking?
To become an investment banker, it is absolutely essential that you earn a college degree. Usually, it doesn’t matter which college you go to as long as there are plenty of opportunities for you to complete internships and make plenty of connections. Investment banking is one of those careers where it truly matters not just how much you know, but who you know, too.
In many cases, it can be beneficial for you to go to school near a major financial hub in a city like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C.
At the end of the day, investment banks recruit students from colleges all over the world. The better your college’s reputation is, the better your odds are at getting a job. In the United States, your best bet will be to attend an Ivy League School, but you can easily go to a far less prestigious university and still achieve your goals.
Beyond that, you will also need to pay attention to the classes you are taking. A degree in economics or finance is generally the best choice, but business and accounting aren’t off the table, either.
Some liberal arts majors are able to get jobs as investment bankers, but you’ll be best off choosing a path that allows you to focus more specifically on the classes that are most aligned with your ultimate career goals.
More important than the name of the school you attend is how well you perform at that school. Your grades are important! If you graduate at the top of your class, you’ll be much more likely to draw the attention of hiring managers and recruiters.
What Should I Do in College to Become an Investment Banker?
This can’t be stressed enough – connections are everything when it comes to landing a job in investment banking. Complete as many internships as you can and don’t stop networking when the position has been completed. Make sure you reach out to past and current professionals via LinkedIn and do as much as you can to get your name out there.
There’s nothing like on-the-job-training to help you impress potential employers. Plus, networking will help you continue to stay current in the field. Don’t just rely on bosses and coworkers to help you find new connections, either. Remember that college alumni, industry groups, and even friends and family are all helpful when it comes to staying connected.
Networking is so important because, as an investment banker, you will spend most of your time selling. You’ll have to find large amounts of money and convince people to give it to your firm for investment. Without knowing how to “schmooze” with others, you’ll be starting a career in investment banking with a significant disadvantage.
Landing a job in investment banking is no different than landing your first megadeal when you’re actually on the job. You need to sell yourself, and engaging in as many internships and forging as many connections as possible is the way to do it.
There are other ways you can make a good connection while you are still in college, too. Join any business or investment banker’s clubs offered by your university to help you practice your skills and stay informed.
One other thing you should be doing while you are preparing for a career in investment banking is to practice investing on the side. You can dabble in the stock market with a small portion of your savings. This will help put you in the right direction when it comes to working with investments full time.
How Do I Get a Full-Time Job in Investment Banking After College?
So, what are the positions you need to work in after college to become an investment banker?
Despite what many people think, it’s not common to go from a baccalaureate graduation ceremony directly into a career in investment banking. You’ll need to follow a certain pathway in order to be successful.
Usually, undergraduates are recruited out of university to participate in a two-year training program as an analyst. This is the most junior-level job at an investment bank. If you are successful after two years, you may be asked to complete a third year. Then, you might be promoted to an associate-level position before progressing to vice president, director, or managing director.
How do you get yourself recruited fresh out of university? Again, getting an internship is going to be key. If you ever try applying for a job at an investment bank without connecting with the right people first, you’ll quickly learn that getting one of these jobs isn’t easy.
There’s more than one way to land a job at an investment bank, but the best way is applying for internships while you’re still enrolled in your program of study. Often, students who complete internships while they are completing their undergraduate studies are then offered analyst positions before the end of their senior years.
You can also participate in on-campus recruiting events, but these kinds of “cold” prospects aren’t as likely to land you a job as if you already knew someone at the hiring organization. You can also flat-out apply to related jobs in a major city or complete an internship after you have graduated from college, too.
There are alternative pathways to becoming an investment banker. Some people become investment bankers later in life, after working in law, spending time in the army, or working as a consultant.
This latter option is one of the most common alternative pathways. The theory here is simple – banks often hire outsiders to help them hone their strategy. If you are a strategy consultant who works in the financial sector, you can land an internal strategy job at an investment bank. Later, this could lead to a job in investment banking.
Do I Need a Master’s Degree to Become an Investment Banker?
You don’t necessarily have to get a master’s degree to become an investment banker, but it can help. With several years of hard work, you may be able to rise from a job as an investment banking analyst to a more senior position. However, it will take a lot of diligence and connections in order for this to happen – and some companies won’t promote candidates without master’s degrees at all.
Getting a master’s degree will make your life easier. An MBA (Master of Business Administration) or another kind of advanced degree or certification in finance will provide you with a competitive edge over other candidates.
What Should I Get a Master’s Degree in to Become an Investment Banker?
You can get a master’s in business administration or a master’s in finance to be successful as an investment banker. A master’s in finance is a smart choice, particularly if you want to pursue specialty positions in sales and trading or risk.
It may be worth checking in with the bank you’d ultimately like to work at to see what kinds of classes they like applicants to have. Most master’s in finance degrees only last a year or so, so take the time to make sure you’re taking the classes that matter most.
What Graduate School Should I Apply To?
Although you can get an undergraduate degree from just about anywhere when you are first starting off as an investment banker, you may want to pay close attention to the graduate school you choose to attend. Banks can be pretty fussy about graduate schools, particularly MBAs.
Not that many schools offer MBAs, and students who graduate from top business schools are going to start with a leg up on the competition. Look for an MBA that allows you to complete an MBA internship, too, so that you’ll have the experience necessary to break into this field.
Some of the best business schools in the world include those at the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago, just to name a few.
What Certificates Does Investment Banking Require?
There are several financial certifications that you might want to pursue, either while you are enrolled as an undergraduate or later, while you’re already working in investment banking. These can signify that you have expertise in a certain area of the financial industry.
To receive these certifications, you will usually need to complete several hours of coursework and pass an exam. You’ll also have to abide by various professional ethics standards and take continuing education courses later on to maintain your certification.
Some of the most common certificates for investment banking include licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
As a CPA, you’ll also be qualified to work as a tax preparer, accountant, or financial analyst. As one of the most widely recognized financial certifications, it requires the completion of 150 hours of coursework and a rigorous examination.
The CFP certification is another helpful certification. This certification, which requires the completion of a seven-hour test as well as several courses, will prove that you are well-versed in topics spanning the breadth of the financial field. With a ChFC certification, it will help you with niche financial planning beyond the basics of the CFP.
Some other certifications to consider include those as a Financial Risk Manager, Chartered Investment Counselor, Chartered Life Underwriter, and Certified Management Accountant.
What Skills Will Help Me Become a Successful Investment Banker as an Adult?
If you’re pursuing a career as an investment banker, your work won’t end once you land a job. You need to constantly hone your skills in analytical thinking, communication, and leadership. Attend as many conferences and networking events as you can to help you stay relevant in this rapidly changing field.
Interestingly, investment banking has begun to rely more heavily on technology, too. Traditional financial institutions and start-ups alike are looking for more candidates who specialize in fields related to artificial intelligence, data science, machine learning, and automation.
You don’t necessarily need a full-fledged college degree in one of these topics, but taking a few classes here and there can help you stay on top of the changes and new developments in these fields.
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Investment Banking
If you have the drive to succeed and strong business acumen, a career in investment banking might be the right choice for you. Start as soon as you can, because taking these steps will make a world of difference when it comes to landing the perfect job in this competitive field.
- Earn an undergraduate degree from a top school, with a major in finance, economics, or business.
- Get an advanced degree, preferably an MBA.
- Get an internship at a top firm to gain on-the-job training and a chance to impress potential employers.
- Network like crazy to find a job.
- Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Finance. ...
- Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Investment Banking Job. ...
- Step 3: Earn Your Master's of Finance. ...
- Step 4: Get a Job as a Investment Banker.
- Earn a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field. ...
- Consider a graduate degree or MBA. ...
- Register with FINRA and obtain certification. ...
- Take part in on-the-job training. ...
- Advance your career.
- Showcase your interest in the industry. ...
- Focus on how can you can be beneficial. ...
- Include your educational background. ...
- Offer some on-the-job examples. ...
- Highlight your strengths and skills. ...
- Example 1.
- Example 2.
- Example 3.
What Are the Big 4 Investment Banks? The big four are JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. Some other global giants are treading right on their heels, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse, and UBS.What is the hardest investment bank to get into? ›
Goldman Sachs is generally regarded as the leading investment bank in most business areas, and is the toughest Bulge Bracket investment bank to break into. Goldman has a very strong reputation within the industry and among corporations. They advise on the majority of high profile M&A deals and other major transactions.What is the personality of an investment banker? ›
Many investment bankers are Type A personalities, which means they are ambitious and driven. Young bankers are inducted into a stressful lifestyle from the get-go. They are encouraged to work long hours with very little free time to fit in socializing or relaxation.What is the best major for investment banking? ›
Most investment banks prefer degrees in finance, accounting, business administration, and other business disciplines. Undergraduate degree subjects are less influential in the hiring process if a candidate has a master's degree in business administration, finance, or another highly relevant subject.How many hours do investment bankers work? ›
On average, an investment banker works for 80 hours a week. But, yes, there may be some weeks where their working hours may go around to 100 hours a week. The working hours will also differ for different positions of employees.Is 30 too late to become an investment banker? ›
Are You Too Old? This is a vague question, so the only reasonable answer is: “It depends.” You will not win an IB Analyst or Associate role if you're a 40- or 50-year-old accountant, but if you want to make more money while doing something related to finance or deals, there are options.
The average investment banker salary ranges between $95,000 and $276,000 in the US. Hourly rates for investment bankers in the US typically range between $45 and $132 an hour. The average investment banker salary is $188,763 in Alaska, $164,538 in Vermont, and $164,377 in Maine.What is the lowest level in investment banking? ›
Analysts are the lowest in the hierarchy chain and therefore do the majority of the work. The work includes three primary tasks: presentations, analysis, and administrative. Investment banking analysts spend a lot of time putting together PowerPoint presentations called pitch books.How do you stand out in an investment banking interview? ›
- Show That You'll Be Easy To Work With. ...
- Know Your Stuff. ...
- Be Respectful & Reserved. ...
- Bring Your Elevator Pitch. ...
- Show You Are Eager To Learn. ...
- Lay Some Groundwork Beforehand. ...
- Get Your Financial Statements Right.
You want to learn a lot. You're interested in corporate finance. You like a fast-paced environment. You've always done well in finance/accounting classes.What skills do investment bankers need? ›
- Strong communication, networking and interpersonal skills.
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
- Skilled in research and analysis.
- Effective presentation skills.
- Ability to manage time and projects.
- Knowledge of relevant regulations related to securities and M&As.
A tier 1 investment bank has massive financial strength. The four major banks of the US, namely JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, are the tier 1 banks in terms of their valuation, asset holding, revenue and net income.What is the most prestigious bank to work for? ›
Bankers continue to regard Goldman Sachs as the world's most prestigious bank, followed (as always) by Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. Credit Suisse and UBS lost the most ground in 2022 while LionTree Advisors' reputation improved the most in the eyes of bankers.What are some Tier 3 investment banks? ›
- Tier 1 – J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley.
- Tier 2 – Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse, UBS.
- Tier 3 – HSBC, BNP Paribas, Société Générale.
Grades below those levels don't necessarily mean that banks will reject you right away, but they do make it harder to win interviews through the normal process. But there are limits to that statement; for example, if you have below a 3.0 GPA in the U.S., then banks may reject you just based on that.What GPA do investment banks look for? ›
Typically banks screen resumes based on GPA and will often remove anyone below 3.5. However, there is room for an exception here, and exceptional experience may bypass GPA requirements if one can prove competency or high value to the bank.
Private equity is extremely prestigious. Compensation for both careers is very high, but the work/life balance in private equity is better, it is often the preferred exit route for investment bankers who have a few years of experience.Can an introvert be an Investment Banker? ›
The answer is a resounding yes. Introverts typically prefer quiet solitude to noisy crowds. Financial advisors study financial trends, so they can make great investment recommendations to their clients. They spend as much time on research as they do on prospecting, and meeting with, clients.How rich do investment bankers get? ›
Can you become a millionaire as an investment banker? It is possible to become a millionaire as an investment banker, but it is not easy. Investment bankers typically earn salaries in the $200,000 to $700,000 range, with bonuses that can bring their total income up to several million dollars per year.What is the typical life of an Investment Banker? ›
Investment bankers meet with clients, prepare offers, run financial projections, and work on pitchbooks, that help generate new clients. The work is lucrative but the days are long and stressful. Superior social skills are required for success in the field.Where do most investment bankers go to college? ›
Undergrad: The Ivy League schools (HYP and UPenn (Wharton) more than the others), NYU (Stern), U Michigan (Ross), UC Berkeley (Haas), Notre Dame (Mendoza), Georgetown (McDonough), Northwestern, Duke, UVA (McIntire), Stanford, MIT, UChicago, and arguably the top liberal arts colleges (Williams, Amherst, etc.).What are the best college classes for investment banking? ›
Recommended courses for those interested in investment banking include Introduction to Financial Accounting, Financial Management, Intermediate Financial Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Investment Decision-Making, Corporate Financing Decision-Making, Capital Markets and Investment Strategy, and ...Which part of investment banking pays the most? ›
- Equity trader.
- Financial consultant.
- Investment executive.
- Loan officer.
- Asset manager.
- Investment bank broker.
- Property and casualty insurance underwriter.
The bottom line is: yes. At the bulge bracket banks and top boutiques, analysts are expected to work approximately 90-110 hours per week (or even more under some circumstances). A typical day will be somewhere in the range of 10am to 2am; this often includes weekends (or at least part of them).How much free time do investment bankers have? ›
At 60 hours, you can have one full free day off and generally only have to do some light work on the other day. You might not get to choose exactly when that time is, but in general, this is survivable. You'll see from the schedule that most people get into work around 10am in banking.How do investment bankers stay awake? ›
Other investment bankers take Ritalin or Adderall, which are given to children with ADHD but which are stimulants for adults. But the mainstay is probably coffee, energy drinks and other concoctions containing caffeine.
Rajat Tiwari: The Youngest Indian Ingenious of Global Investment Banking. Like the changing weather of our globe, the investment climate of the global financial world keeps evolving.What age do most investment bankers start? ›
Investment Banking Associate Age.
|Investment Banking Associate Years||Percentages|
Unless the goal is senior management, most people in finance are out of there by age 50. That's not at just the biggest investment banks, either. In January, Charles Schwab Corp.'s Chief Financial Officer Christopher Dodds announced plans to quit in May, at age 47, to pursue greater "work-life balance."Can investment bankers make 500k? ›
Executives in investment banking can make upward of $300,000-$500,000 per year. Investment banking can also lead to other high-paying careers in finance, such as private equity and wealth management.What is the average bonus at Goldman Sachs? ›
Last year, the average analyst bonus was $95,000, while those at the vice president level got an average bonus of more than $500,000. The bonus bummer comes just a week after Goldman cut 3,200 employees from its ranks.Do investment bankers work weekends? ›
Investment bankers may work on weekends. They typically respond quickly to new developments in the market.Is 3.5 GPA too low for investment banking? ›
A GPA of a 3.7+ can make up for weaker experience, but is by no means a gimme. Banks prefer good experience to good GPAs (subject to a minimum in the 3.3-3.5 range).Is investment banking hard to break into? ›
Accordingly, investment banking firms are incredibly selective with new hires. To become an investment banking analyst, you need the right education. Investment banking firms recruit top-performers from the most prestigious schools, preferring a select few schools.What is a good minor for investment banking? ›
Students who major in economics, math or engineering and minor in finance will have a great foundation for a career in finance. Graduates with a finance minor work in a wide range of areas, including personal financial planning, banking, corporate and public finance, investment banking, and accounting.What kind of math do investment bankers use? ›
There's addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division… and occasionally built-in Excel functions like IRR, Mean, and Median. You never use calculus or differential equations or even geometry / trigonometry. Just arithmetic and sometimes algebra.
Q: Where do you see yourself professionally in five years? Five years is a long way down the road, but I know that finance will always have a grip on me. I could see myself in investment banking for the long-term, but that would have to depend on my performance and my family situation.Why does investment banking pay so much? ›
As long as investment banks remain gatekeepers to the market for companies (and capital markets), they will be able to extract high fees, and use those high fees to pay high salaries and bonuses.Why am I interested in a banker position? ›
Example: “I feel that a career in the financial industry would be the most beneficial use of my knowledge and skills in accounting and problem-solving. I have always been fascinated by the financial world, am ambitious and hard-working and can bring great value to your company.”What are the top 3 skills for an investment banker? ›
- Intellect. Investment bankers facilitate transactions between two firms (like mergers or acquisitions) or between the firm and the market (think IPOs), or within a firm (helping to establish business plans). ...
- Discipline. ...
- Creativity. ...
- Open-mindedness. ...
- Relationship Building Skills.
To become an investment banker, you need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Common majors are finance, business, economics, and accounting.Is it easy to break into investment banking? ›
For most people, breaking into investment banking is a multi-year long quest. It takes years of cultivating a strong resume, working the right internships, and getting involved with the right extra-curriculars to land a high-quality offer.What qualifications do you need to be an investment banker? ›
Most investment banks prefer degrees in finance, accounting, business administration, and other business disciplines. Undergraduate degree subjects are less influential in the hiring process if a candidate has a master's degree in business administration, finance, or another highly relevant subject.How hard is it to get a job at JP Morgan? ›
How Hard Is It to Land a Job at JP Morgan? In a word, hard. JP Morgan's hiring standards are very high, so you should put a lot of effort into meeting its expectations. Candidates for internships should have good grades and extracurriculars that set them apart from other students.Do investment banks pay well? ›
Can you become a millionaire as an investment banker? It is possible to become a millionaire as an investment banker, but it is not easy. Investment bankers typically earn salaries in the $200,000 to $700,000 range, with bonuses that can bring their total income up to several million dollars per year.Is investment banking a risky career? ›
It is a high risk, high reward career that demands a high degree of commitment, and a herculean ability to juggle your work-life balance.
Hours: Without question one of the biggest drawbacks are the hours that Investment Bankers work. It is not unusual to be expected to work through the night when deal flow is high. Working weekends is also common when deals are close to being struck.Do you have to be good at math to be an investment banker? ›
A good investment banker has tangible skills, such as knowledge of finance, math, and economics, and intangible skills, such as creativity and innovation.How many years does it take to become an investment banker? ›
Becoming an investment banker involves at least four years spent earning a bachelor's degree, plus additional time spent preparing for and earning FINRA licensure. Mid-level and advanced investment bankers typically earn master's degrees, which can take an additional two years to complete.What GPA do you need for JP Morgan? ›
Q: What are your GPA requirements? A: We value diverse degree backgrounds and experiences and while a GPA 3.2 (or equivalent) in your undergraduate degree is preferred it is not required. Our training programs are designed to allow everyone, regardless of major studied to succeed.What is Goldman Sachs acceptance rate? ›
Among the revelations is the fact that every open job at the bank receives 300 applicants, a number suggesting that the average person applying to work at the bank has only a 0.33% chance of being successful.What is the salary level of JP Morgan? ›
|Associate Software Engineer||Range:$87k - $143k||Average:$113,552|
|Vice President (VP), Information Technology (IT)||Range:$103k - $180k||Average:$142,972|
|Relationship Banker||Range:$36k - $54k||Average:$42,273|
|Financial Analyst||Range:$51k - $83k||Average:$65,725|
For a hefty fee, they bring industry, financial, and transactional expertise. They are basically gatekeepers — a company that wants to issue stock, issue debt, buy other companies, or sell itself has to engage with an investment bank (though some tech firms are working on ways around this).Is it stressful to be an investment banker? ›
Managing the pressure
There is no doubt that there will be times when you'll be under a lot of stress, even though the high stakes and fast-paced way things are done in an investment bank may make the learning process so speedy. It's not only about working long hours; you also need to put in high-quality work quickly.
Many investment bankers are Type A personalities, which means they are ambitious and driven. Young bankers are inducted into a stressful lifestyle from the get-go. They are encouraged to work long hours with very little free time to fit in socializing or relaxation. Many turn to caffeine and drugs to help them cope.