Investment bankers:Requirements - Vault (2024)

High School

Since the majority of investment banks hire analysts from top colleges and universities, it’s very important that you earn stellar grades in high school, take as many advanced placement classes as possible, participate in a lot of extracurricular activities (e.g., business clubs, sports teams, speech team, etc.) that look good on a college application, and perform well on your SAT or ACT exams. Recommended classes include business, economics, statistics, accounting, mathematics, foreign language, English, psychology, and speech. Classes that help you to develop your skill at using databases and spreadsheets and making presentations will be useful. Investment bankers need excellent analytical and critical-thinking skills, so be sure to take history, social studies, philosophy, and other classes that help you to develop these abilities.

Postsecondary Education

The typical investment banker has a graduate degree in business from an Ivy League school or other top-tier university and superior educational credentials [i.e., excellent grades (minimum 3.50 GPA), active participation in business and investment clubs, and participation in at least one internship or summer program at a top investment bank, Big Four accounting firm, alternative investment firm, or another prominent employer]. Some investment bankers have master’s degrees in finance, economics, accounting, or engineering. Others have law degrees. For their undergraduate education, aspiring investment bankers typically earn degrees in business, finance, quantitative finance, accounting, or economics from a top school. 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 Fixed Income Securities/Markets.

Yet, despite popular opinion, there is no traditional educational path for investment bankers. Some investment bankers have degrees in history, political science, or even philosophy. While investment banks typically recruit about 80 percent of their hires from Ivy League and other schools with top finance programs, they also recruit from lesser-known, but still quality, programs. The key point to remember is that if you do not attend a top school or major in finance or a related subject, your grades need to be excellent, you need to complete multiple internships at investment banks or related employers, and minor in business, finance, economics, or accounting.

Much of an investment banker’s education takes place on the job, informally, and is acquired by creating these complex financial models, rather than through formal education. This is due partly to the fact there is so much complexity in creating financial models and the formulas used in creating these models are constantly changing. General aptitude and a knack for getting deals done is a better indicator of eventual success than an Ivy League pedigree. For this reason unconventional career paths are not all that uncommon. Wall Street firms are definitely interested in people with science backgrounds who have industry experience—and personal contacts—in a fast-growth industry like bioscience or nanotechnology.

Many banks offer formal training programs for new hires—especially those at junior investment banking levels. For example, the global investment bank Houlihan Lokey offers a three-week training program for new campus hires to get them up to speed quickly. Topics include Excel best practices, organizing and building basic spreadsheet and cash flow forecasting models, sell-side mergers and acquisitions pitching to senior bankers, and comprehensive analysis and modeling of a company in bankruptcy.

Some banks provide ongoing continuing education opportunities to employees. For example, Goldman Sachs offers Goldman Sachs University (GSU), an internal training and development resource that features more than 4,000 classes offered in classroom, webcast, and e-learning formats.

Other Education or Training

The CFA Society New York, Association for Financial Professionals, CFA Institute, Futures Industry Association, International Association for Quantitative Finance, CMT Association, and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association provide continuing education classes, webinars, and workshops. Contact these organizations to learn more.


Colleges and universitiesprovide certificate programs in investment banking and related areas. For example, City University of New York-Baruch College offers an Advanced Finance and Investment Principles Certificate Program. Classes include Introduction to Derivatives Markets, Debt and Fixed Income Markets, Advanced Financial Statement Analysis, Equity Markets & Portfolio Theory, Investment Banking, Entrepreneurial/Venture Finance, and Wealth Management. The University of Houston, Johns Hopkins University, and other colleges offer related programs. Contact schools in your area to learn about what types of educational opportunities are available. Additionally, Fitch Learning (which offers continuing education opportunities to individuals and corporations) offers a certificate in quantitative finance. Visit for more information.

Investment bankers:Requirements - Vault (2024)


Investment bankers:Requirements - Vault? ›

They typically seek those with superior educational credentials [i.e., a degree from an Ivy League or other top tier school, excellent grades (minimum 3.50 GPA), active participation in business and investment clubs, and participation in at least one internship at a top investment bank, Big Four accounting firm, ...

What are the minimum requirements for investment banker? ›

Investment bankers must earn at least a bachelor's degree and obtain FINRA licensure. Completing a bachelor's program usually takes at least four years; completing licensure exams and certifications thereafter is generally ongoing.

Do you need a series 7 for investment banking? ›

Many investment banks require their investment bankers to have their Series 7 (or General Securities Representative), Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law), Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law), or Series 79 (Investment Banking Representative) credentials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the ...

What must an investment banker abide by? ›

Investment bankers must abide by their firm's stipulated code of conduct and typically sign a confidentiality agreement because of the sensitive nature of the information they receive. Moreover, there is potential for conflict of interest if the advisory and trading divisions of investment banks interact.

What certifications do you need to be an investment banker? ›

Investment Banking Career: Quick Facts
Median Salary$243,167
Education/Skills NeededBachelor's Degree MBA and CFA Certification Are Recommended Presentation Skills Confident & Assertive Personality
Recommended Securities Exams and LicensesSIE Series 7 Series 79
Nov 13, 2019

Can investment bankers make 500K? ›

Sure, anybody can make a good living being a doctor or a lawyer or an investment banker where you can make ~$200-500K per year a few years after you finish with your studies, but you hit a ceiling very quickly unless you start your own practice (aka start your own business).

What is the average GPA for an investment banker? ›

GPA Cutoffs for Investment Banking

The cut off for Bulge Brackets is usually 3.5 or an 80% average, but the median is much closer to 3.7 or 3.8. Expect 30% of banks to give you a call assuming the appropriate networking obligations have been met with a 3.6, 50% with a 3.8 and 80% above 3.8.

Is series 79 harder than Sie? ›

The Series 79 exam is generally considered more difficult than the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. The SIE exam is normally taken first and, as such, is considered an introduction to the Series 79 exam, which tests individuals on concepts at a more advanced and higher level.

Is series 79 harder than Series 7? ›

The Series 79 is considered a lighter version of the Series 7 exam, but don't be fooled because it's deceptively difficult. Keep reading to learn more about the Series 79 exam, including prerequisites, what you'll need to pass, and the breakdown of the test.

Can you make 7 figures as an investment banker? ›

How can you earn a six-figure salary at top investment banking firms without any experience in 2023. On average, a first-year investment banker makes a 5-digit salary, in the range of $70,000 – $90,000, while a 7-digit salary is considered above average and is difficult to achieve for most people in their careers.

Do investment bankers make a lot of money? ›

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.

How hard is investment banking? ›

Investment banking is one of Wall Street's most coveted roles. It is also one of the hardest. It is no surprise that the average day in an investment banker's life is long and stressful. Those who manage to survive the adjustment period often go on to have long and financially rewarding careers.

Do investment bankers need CFA? ›

A bachelor's degree and or a master's degree in a related field is often required to become an investment banker. Investment bankers often start their careers as analysts and do so by earning the CFA charter.

What degree do most investment bankers have? ›

Most commonly, investment bankers obtain either a master's of finance or an MBA with a specialization in finance.

Do you need an MBA to be an investment banker? ›

Entry-level investment bankers must hold a bachelor's degree, often in business or a related field. Many employers may require investment bankers to hold an MBA to advance or qualify for entry-level jobs. A typical bachelor's degree takes four years, whereas an MBA can take 1-3 years, depending on the program format.

What is the life of an investment banker? ›

Investment bankers meet with clients, send emails, prepare offers, conduct financial projections, work on signing new clients to the company, providing initial public offerings (IPOs), and mergers and acquisitions. These are some of the tasks an investment banker must do on a daily or weekly basis.

How hard is it to get into investment banking? ›

Investment banking is extremely competitive with way more applicants than available positions each year. You will often be up against students from Ivy League universities, with a high GPAs and multiple internships under their belts.

Is it hard to be hired as an investment banker? ›

Investment banking recruiting is an extremely competitive process, so you'll want to do whatever you can to stand out during the recruitment process. Banks value the quality of your job experience, and the quality of your schools attended, and how hard you network or “hustle” for the role.

What grades do you need for investment banking? ›

Study for an investment banker degree

A grade of 2:1 or above is typically required by the top investment banks.

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