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6 degrees to help you get into banking

Olivier Guiberteau
Last Updated: 17 July 2021 • 5 min read

4th December was the International Day of Banks and while that might not sound like the most electrifying day of celebration, it at least allows us to look at just what is needed to get into a banking career. 

Banking jobs are highly sought after, with thousands of students each year choosing subjects that they hope will eventually lead them into a lucrative position. 

Your degree options might seem straightforward, but there are several left-field options too. It’s important to remember that certain specialist degrees have a well-trodden path to banking, but these courses might also narrow your options if things change throughout your degree. 

If you are “all in” - as they say in poker - with your desire for a banking career, then find something as specific as you can, if not, it might be worth looking for something that will give you plenty of options for the future. 

The bottomline is there are numerous routes to a banking job and not one definitive answer. Here are six degrees that can help you get into banking.  

Economics 

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Well - duh. This might seem like the most obvious degree, to begin with, but it’s also the one that eventually leads to the most banking positions. However, economics is a much more wide-ranging degree than one that just shovels people towards banking. 

An economics degree at a highly-regarded university will likely open all kinds of doors in the financial field, ranging from stockbroker positions to statisticians, from investment banking to accountancy. If you’re not exactly sure what direction you want to pick just yet, economics might be the best middle-ground option. For more information about job possibilities with an economics degree, this article from Essex University gives a good run-down. Also, find the Best Economics Courses in UK

Business

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Business is another choice that probably isn’t much of a surprise to those reading, but one that offers something slightly different than economics. While an economics degree gives you a much more complete picture of the entire economic world, a business degree is much more concerned with what would be profitable and feasible. In reality, the two do overlap on many topics, but it is worth bearing in mind. 

Business studies courses tend to attract plenty of entrepreneurs which might partly explain why it has risen to be one of the most popular courses in the UK

A degree in business gives you a comprehensive understanding of the business world and if you dream of opening your own business one day, this might be a good option. And the financial elements of a business degree are a sure-fire way to get the attention of the banking industry. 

STEM

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Short for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, STEM degrees can be anything from Physics to Engineering, Computer Science to Chemistry. 

These are areas that are constantly changing and it can be a truly exhilarating experience studying such topics that seem to be at the cutting edge of so much of what we do today. 

Banking might not be the first job choice when you think about a STEM degree, but you would be surprised by how many choose that path. But the great thing about a STEM degree is that you are keeping your options open - wide open! 

Biomedical engineering, computer programming and statistics are just a few of the numerous jobs associated with STEM. If eventually, you do choose a banking career, the maths and engineering component of the course will prove invaluable. For more information on your options with a STEM degree, check out Stem Graduates.    

Finance and Investment Banking

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This is probably the most specific course you can do if you have a future career in banking in mind. However, the number of available courses is much lower compared to other degrees on this list. This is also the kind, of course, that limits your eventual options when you take it.

While a STEM course can be used for a whole catalogue of professions, a degree in Finance and Investment Banking points you towards a very specific set of jobs.

Maybe that’s exactly what you want. If you have your heart set on investment banking, then why waste your time on courses that involve a considerable number of components not associated with it. If you are 100% sure what you want, then this is the one for you.    

Maths

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Remember back in school when math teachers told you how important maths is in the real world? Well, it turns out they are absolutely correct. Maths might not be one degree you normally associate with banking, but you would be wrong. What may have simply seemed like a lot of equations and triangles at school often plays an enormous role in banking and financial practices. 

Financial mathematics is an off-shoot degree that pushes you even further towards the banking sector. By blending an in-depth look at the economic world and the maths that governs so much of our lives without even realising it, this degree offers you a direct route to banking, but also one that doesn’t necessarily slam doors shut along the way. 

Financial mathematics can be useful to get into analysis, trading, accounting, consulting and much more. For more information check out this article from the University of South Wales.    

Engineering

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Last but by no means least, we come to Engineering. Traditionally when we thought about engineering we tended to think about buildings, bridges - maybe even some kind of mechanics. Not anymore. The field of engineering has changed dramatically over the last twenty years - arguably the course that has seen the biggest changes. 

Even the word ‘engineering’ now incorporates a dizzying array of possibilities, including chemical, mechanical, computer and of course financial. Whatsmore, it seems that engineers tend to be highly regarded for their high work ethic and practically, and it's thought that between 10 and 15% of investment banking directors took engineering at university. 

Once again, this is a degree that doesn’t necessarily shut-off any avenues. If anything, engineering is one of the most adaptable degrees out there at the moment so if you change your mind about banking, the world is still your oyster. 

 

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Olivier Guiberteau
Written By
Olivier Guiberteau

Oli lives in London and is a writer and photographer.

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