Degrees Needed for Banking Careers

Professionals seeking careers in banking will require, at a minimum, a high school diploma or at least a GED. Without a higher education degree, many positions and advancement opportunities will not be open, even if the prospective employee is talented and experienced. Money, and the business of holding, lending, and increasing it for customers, involves intensely detailed, important tasks that require trust and dependability as well as innovative but stable practices that are safe, sound and fair. Employees of a bank must be disciplined, organized and trustworthy, as well as keen with details and thrifty with clients’ money, since customers want to know that their money is safely and carefully handled.

A college education not only teaches a student a subject, it also teaches organization and discipline and how to complete difficult tasks, which are critical skills in a banking career. If you sincerely wish to pursue a career path in the banking industry, start with a high school diploma. Next, work toward either an associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in finance, business, accounting, or any related field. Seeking out internships or trainee positions with either a local or a national bank or a credit union may also be helpful for applicants seeking banking careers.

Associate’s Degree

A person looking for a banking career would be well advised to work toward obtaining an associate’s degree with an emphasis on subjects related to the banking industry, such as accounting, statistics, business, or any other related fields. The completion of any degree program in banking will aid a person in seeking promotions, greater pay, and higher responsibility and authority. An Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science in many banking fields such as banking, finance, business, and accounting can be obtained usually at a two-year community college and from certain trade, vocational or occupational schools that offer a degree program. Generally, a high school diploma or a GED is required for enrollment, and sometimes, a minimum grade point average of at least a 2.0 or C is required for certain degrees.

A significant advantage of obtaining an associate’s degree at a community college is that the cost for the degree is usually much less than at a trade school or even at a four-year institution, as most communities are able to subsidize the tuition for local students. A student attending classes on a fulltime basis should be able to obtain the associate’s degree in two years’ time. Fulltime is usually a minimum of 12 to 15 credits per semester, or four to five different course classes during each semester period. The first year of courses will be made up of general classes, such as math, science, English, and other basics, and the second year will focus more on courses and skills toward the banking degree.

Students may apply for financial aid – scholarships, loans or grants to help pay for educational expenses. Qualifications for financial aid depend on the income situation of the student, and sometimes, the parents of the student. Some expenses may also be tax deductible under many federal IRS tax credit rules. If the student is already employed by a banking or regulatory institution, tuition assistance and even reimbursement may be available from the employer.

Many associate’s degrees can also be obtained from various community colleges, universities and occupational schools by utilizing special learning situations such as online courses and studies, or weekend and evening class schedules. Some universities today are completely set up as virtual classrooms, with online studying and no attendance at classes outside of one’s home or office.

Bachelor’s Degree

Degrees Needed for Banking Careers

A bachelor’s degree is invaluable for someone interested in a career in banking, particularly if the person is ambitious, likes challenges, and seeks a meaningful and stable career. Without a bachelor’s degree, many managerial positions, and virtually all senior-level positions will not be available, no matter how talented and skilled the employees may be. Furthermore, the knowledge and education that the professional will receive with one of these types of degrees will enhance the job performance of the banking employee.

In order to apply or enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at either a four-year university or college, one must have, at a minimum, a high school diploma or a GED. Most banking programs at prestigious universities, such as Boston University, may require a minimum high school grade point average. Other schools or universities may not have such stringent prerequisites and the requirements may change from year to year, depending on the learning institution’s current enrollment.

To assist you in obtaining a banking careers job or promotion, choose a Bachelor of Science degree in business, accounting, finance or economics, or computer science or computer engineering, depending on the chosen banking field, and pick a university or college that specializes in banking careers and degrees.

To obtain a bachelor’s degree, a student will need to complete four-years with two semesters (or three quarters) per year of a fulltime course load. Semester system schools operate with two semesters per year, of about 12 to 14 weeks per semester, fall and spring, to complete a full year. A minimum of nine to 12 credits during the semester qualifies as fulltime student status. Quarter system colleges, with fall, winter, and spring quarters lasting about eight to nine weeks each, making up a full year, calculate 12 to 15 credits to be considered as fulltime. Both systems usually offer condensed courses during the summertime that usually consist of two to six weeks per course, depending on the credit hours offered. A semester hour typically is calculated to about one-and-a-half quarter hours.

During the four years of study to obtain a bachelor’s degree, most universities will require about two years of basic and required courses, usually at the freshman and sophomore year level, consisting of various courses such as English, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and History. Many options in each subject are usually available in order to fulfill the basic requirements, and the degree chosen by the student will most likely guide the student towards certain basic courses that may be prerequisites for required courses in the chosen major field. In addition, most colleges require a number of elective courses to round out the student’s education. Courses for electives can be chosen from any number of fields such as languages, communication, political science, physical education, music, and so on, the variety of which will depend on the chosen institution of higher learning, and its offerings.

A junior or senior level student in a Bachelor of Science degree program will take courses focused on the field major, such as accounting, finance, or business. These courses are referred to as upper-level courses. Courses in the degree field will build upon the subject of the major and also other related subjects. Sample courses for a degree in accounting and finance will include many courses in mathematics, statistics, and so on. A degree in economics and business will most likely require at least one or two courses in mathematics and statistics, for example, but may also include courses in the history and the study of economics and business in the United States, and possibly Europe, depending on the course.

Many universities and colleges today offer the student innovative options in order to obtain a four- year bachelor’s degree. Online classes have replaced many classroom locations. With the aid of a computer and a video conferencing system, the professor can be miles away, the students scattered across the country, and lectures as well as conversations can be held in a virtual classroom. In addition, many schools offer online, computer-based courses and tests where the student can manage his or her own study time, which is particularly useful for students who work fulltime jobs and who are enrolled in courses part-time.

Many banks and most banking regulatory bodies offer internships, summer temporary positions, and trainee programs for college students, enrolled in or graduated from universities that focus on degrees for the banking industry. Serious students, interested in banking careers or promotions within the field, can find many of these opportunities either at the universities’ placement department, or online on the institutions’ websites.

Career Opportunities for Business Majors

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree in a banking field, such as finance, accounting, business, economics, or computer technology and science can succeed in catapulting professionals in banking careers in mid-level position to more senior positions, gaining those professionals increased pay and bonuses, along with higher authority, more responsibility, and greater career success.

A prerequisite to obtaining a master’s degree in almost any field is an undergraduate degree, either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts. Bachelor of Science degrees are awarded in the fields of the hard and soft sciences, such as mathematics, accounting, biology, finance, political and social science, anthropology, nursing, and so forth. Bachelor of Arts degrees are awarded to students who studied in the fields of art, music, languages, history, literature, and so on. In addition, most colleges and universities require the master’s degree applicant to pass the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), an elective test to gauge the student’s capability, knowledge, and communication skills prior to being accepted into the master’s degree program.

Almost any degree that is offered as an undergraduate degree in the banking field can be found also as a master’s degree offering. Master’s degrees are offered at many universities in the fields of accounting, finance, financial planning, economics, computer science and technology, to name a few. Courses are referred to as graduate-level courses.

A master’s degree program will consist of class courses in the required field, and the course of study is usually directed by not only the university but also the college, or department, head of the field. Graduate-level courses will increase in difficulty and complexity within the subject, and in most cases, will consist of large amounts of research and study reports. A master’s degree student should expect at least two years, and frequently three years, of study. A master’s degree student may also complete a certain amount of internship experience in the field, depending on the degree program, at companies, banks, or firms that may offer this type of experience. Course credit is often given for internships, particularly if they are offered as part of the program and a professor supervises the student’s experience in various banking careers.

Many professionals in banking careers seek out master’s degree programs that are offered either evenings or weekends, so that they can continue with their daytime work while studying toward an advanced degree. In addition, the advent of computers, video conferencing, and the Internet, virtual classrooms that meet online, as well as course study and research that can be accomplished at any hour of the day, have made a master’s degree attainable for many professional and ambitions employees.

Most banks and banking regulatory institutions offer either reimbursement or pay for advanced degrees and continuing education for many of their employees. Typically, to qualify for the tuition assistance, the employee must be in good standing with the employer and must pass the course and/or the graduate program successfully. Often, once the student has obtained the graduate degree, the employer may either promote the professional on the basis of the degree, or frequently increase the responsibility and pay of the employee, due specifically to the achievement.

Continuing Education in Banking Careers

Banking professionals can greatly enhance not only their knowledge of banking but also their potential advancement by taking advantage of the many banking certifications and continuing education programs offered by banking and financial or insurance associations, universities, colleges, and trade schools. Continuing education is invaluable to the banking professional, whether he or she is a frontline teller employee, a middle manager, or a senior executive.

The most prestigious and highly regarded continuing education in the banking industry is offered by the American Bankers Association (ABA). Courses offered by the ABA include subjects such as commercial lending, compliance, bank marketing and management, risk management, and trust courses. The ABA schools also offer courses to prepare the banking professional for various certifications in Retail, Bank, Compliance or Risk Management, as well as certifications in Mortgage and Commercial Lending, Retirement Services and Wealth Management and Trust. The ABA offers no less than 16 different certification courses of education. The ABA also sponsors short, one to two week continuing education events throughout the year, usually held at various locations around the country that offer up to the minute education and information about trends, skills, tools, and changes in the banking marketplace and industry. Members of ABA are usually offered a significant tuition discount and many banks will pay for staff attendance.

Many investment and insurance financial professionals are required to obtain and maintain licenses for their profession, and the industry offers many resources to these banking professionals to be able to comply with either state or federal continuing education requirements for their licenses. The Investment Banking Institute (IBI) ( offers excellent continuing education courses both for the current financial professional as well as courses to help the person who wishes to join the profession but needs to complete the required courses for licensing. IBI offers continuing education courses in investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, equity research, asset management, private wealth management, and corporate finance and strategy. IBI also offers training to the prospective financial services professional in the areas of resume and interviewing skills as well as valuation and financial modeling training in their investment banking courses.

Securities professionals are required to obtain certain federal securities licenses, such as Series 6, Series 7, and Series 67, depending on the type of securities transactions that the professional will handle. To obtain these licenses, many professionals prepare by taking various education courses offered either by the investment firm or trade schools, since the securities licenses are difficult to pass.

Insurance financial professionals must pass a licensing exam, after which they will receive a license from the resident state of the licensee. State license preparation courses are typically available in most major cities and help prepare the prospective insurance professional to pass the state license to sell and service insurance. Once the insurance license is obtained, each state maintains continuing education requirements that must be obtained by the licensee before each renewal of the insurance license. Continuing education courses for insurance license holders are offered by many state insurance agent associations and organizations. and both have links to state organizations that offer many required courses that meet these continuing education needs.


Last updated: Oct 21, 2015 @ 6:28 pm