How to Start an Investment Banking Career

Investment bankers help financial institutions decide where to invest.

Investment bankers help financial institutions decide where to invest.

Investment bankers provide a broad range of financial advice to individuals and businesses. Many investment bankers develop plans to invest the money of the financial institution that hired them; others work offering investment advice to bank clients. Almost all investment bankers start off as financial analysts, and you can work your way up to portfolio manager or even a fund manager. You can earn a comfortable six-figure salary as an investment banker.

Enter a bachelor's degree program in finance, economics, accounting, business or a related field. Maintain a high grade point average so you can get into grad school.

Apply for internships after your junior year. Any kind of banking-related internship is great, but a part-time or summer work-study or internship position with a brokerage or a bond trading firm would be ideal. An internship is not just valuable experience and a big plus on your resume; it also provides an excellent networking opportunity and can even lead to a job offer.

Earn a master's degree in finance or business administration. Having a graduate degree is an essential requirement to move beyond the financial analyst position to become an investment banker. Another internship while in grad school will further strengthen your resume.

Work as a financial analyst for at least two or three years to gain experience and learn the ropes of the industry. As a junior analyst, you will likely work long hours and travel to meet clients on a regular basis, but the pay is good and investment bankers report high job satisfaction.

Apply for positions as an associate portfolio manager or fund manager after you have enough experience to meet the job qualifications. Develop your professional network in grad school, during your internship and in your first few years on the job. Contacts and professional relationships play a major role in career advancement in the investment banking industry.

Tip

Earn your chartered financial analyst certification to enhance your professional credentials. Becoming a CFA requires a bachelor's degree, four years of experience working as a financial analyst and passing three comprehensive exams.

Warning

A promotion to an investment banker position can sometimes require relocation to New York, Los Angeles or another major city, so keep this in mind when applying for positions.

2016 Salary Information for Financial Analysts

Financial analysts earned a median annual salary of $81,760 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, financial analysts earned a 25th percentile salary of $62,630, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $111,760, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 296,100 people were employed in the U.S. as financial analysts.

Tip

  • Earn your chartered financial analyst certification to enhance your professional credentials. Becoming a CFA requires a bachelor's degree, four years of experience working as a financial analyst and passing three comprehensive exams.

Warning

  • A promotion to an investment banker position can sometimes require relocation to New York, Los Angeles or another major city, so keep this in mind when applying for positions.
 

About the Author

Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Photo Credits

  • Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images