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Do I Need an MBA to Get a Job in Finance?
Life and Style Daily
August 09, 2021
6 min

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Getting a job in the finance industry does not require a Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree. At least not for many entry-level positions.

However, don’t get your hopes up that you can immediately work on Wall Street. If you are pitted against candidates who earned their MBAs for the same position, then your chances are quite slim.

Most financial companies also require you to have a bachelor’s degree and a few business-related skills to be considered a strong candidate.

The good news is that it’s not rare for someone to make their mark in the financial industry without an MBA to their name. If you can emulate their strategies and work ethic, you, too, reach the same level of success.

On the other hand, there are specific finance positions that require an MBA degree, especially senior positions. The bigger the project or money that needs to be managed, the more companies require you to get an MBA.

Many finance students consider taking an MBA in the future because they want to get into one specific finance sector --- banking. Over the decades, banking jobs are still regarded as popular because of their excellent wages and numerous progression opportunities.

For undergraduates who want to land that junior analyst role, an MBA can increase their chances of obtaining it. But, keep in mind that many employers today are also looking for people skills such as selling and communicating well with clients.

If you are considering getting an MBA right after college, you should know a few things first before proceeding with your decision.

The MBA Degree in a Nutshell

The MBA degree covers various business-related topics such as management, entrepreneurship, economics, statistics, accounting, communications, and other critical business practices.

Knowledge of these subjects can be quite handy when you work for financial institutions and management positions and founding your startup company.

One of the compelling reasons people take an MBA degree is to be prepared for senior management roles. The degree also gives you transferable workplace skills that can help you handle more responsibility and transition to other business sectors.

Before getting your MBA degree, you also need to work closely with a real client in one of their major projects. You will also be exposed to real-life simulations, exchange programs, and company visits as part of the program.

To enter an MBA program, you need to have at least three to five years of management-related experience before you can enroll. You also have the option to finish the program under part-time, full-time, and distance-learning arrangements.

Pros and Cons of Getting an MBA

People often associate an MBA degree with the opportunity to increase their salary. In the U.S., the average salary of an MBA graduate in 2019 is $134,991, according to Poets & Quants and U.S. News & World Report.

However, there are other factors you should also consider aside from a lucrative payday that goes along with the title. For one, getting an MBA is not cheap. The estimated cost of a Wharton MBA Program for the first year is $111, 695 of which $80,432 goes to tuition and other fees.

Below are the pros and cons of attaining an MBA that you should factor in your decision:

Pros

  • Having an MBA is beneficial for your career progression. Most companies, especially those in the Fortune 500, want their management-level personnel to have this accreditation.

  • Getting an MBA provides a networking opportunity with the people you will meet in the program. It can help you develop professional relationships that may prove invaluable later in your career.

  • It’s a great way to improve your personal development as it pushes you outside your comfort zone. Overcoming the program can boost your confidence and leadership skills.

  • An MBA can help you transition into another industry. It can help you get into a consultant or financial sector, which may not be available for many people with different career or educational backgrounds.

  • Just having an MBA mentioned in your resume will get you a competitive edge over others who lack this qualification. Hence, they are more likely to get the job, especially in managerial positions.

  • If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, then an MBA can teach you the skills and knowledge to establish your own company.

Cons

  • Getting an MBA is not cheap. Tuition fees may cost anywhere between $ 55,000 to 160,000 for a two-year program. You also have to spend on other things like textbooks.

  • Studying for an MBA will take up one to two years for a full-time arrangement to finish. If you’re studying part-time, that may take even longer. Hence, it can also limit your earning potential during that studying period.

If you are lucky, the company you are working for may pay for your own MBA degree. However, doing so might mean sticking with that company for a few more years.

Finance Jobs That Don’t Require MBA

Getting an MBA is not the only path to climbing the corporate ladder. While it can certainly open new opportunities and give you an edge, an MBA is not a minimum requirement for you to succeed. You can even pursue some lucrative business careers as soon as you earn your bachelor’s degree.

Most of these high-paying jobs pay just as competitively as their MBA-required counterparts. In some cases, they require fewer working hours from their employees. Below are just a few of these jobs that don’t require an MBA:

  • Sales Manager
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Accountant
  • Management Analyst
  • Marketing/ Advertising Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Trader/ Stockbroker
  • External Auditor
  • Actuaries

Aside from these jobs, you can take other career paths so you can establish yourself at the top of the financial industry.

How to Get a Job in Finance Without an MBA

There are three periods in your life where you can enter into the finance industry. You can enter as an undergraduate, after you graduate, and after getting an MBA.

You must know the proper timing and the path you have to take to land the jobs that will help your career grow along the way. Whatever period you are in, you can still do things to help keep yourself competitive for that coveted investment banking role.

Below are some of the things you can do to improve your chances of getting through this industry:

1. Secure Stepping Stone Jobs or Internships

Aside from your educational background, another aspect that you should work on is job experience. If you are still an undergraduate, you must land an internship to help you with the skills and knowledge related to the financial industry.

However, if you are working with a job that is in no way related to any financial services, you may consider switching jobs. You can work with small venture capital firms, search funds, or corporate banking before you can start into investment banking.

This move might be quite a gamble, especially if you have already established yourself in your current job, as it may take you back to a junior-level position once you move out. Hence, consider your options very carefully.

2. Take Relevant Financial Courses

If you graduated with a degree that is not related to finance, you could always take relevant courses during your undergraduate or postgraduate years. Some of the best courses you can take include financial analysis, economics, and accounting.

For those who want an alternative to an MBA degree, you can take a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program. However, you also have to pass three rigorous exams on practical knowledge and financial theories.

3. Study on Your Own and Learn the Lingo

The great thing about the Internet is that there are plenty of resources available if you want to deepen your financial knowledge. You can also go to your local library to learn more about the financial industry, especially the financial terms and jargon they use.

Learning the financial language can help you ace the preliminary interviews. Begin by looking up with terms you will usually read in a Wall Street Journal newspaper, such as dividend, endowment fund, and fiduciary.

You can also use trading simulators that set up mock portfolios. These online tools can help you track the markets and their developments without the downside of losing a lot of money. It can also help you master the art of trading and force you to expand your market knowledge.

4. Finish Industry Courses

Another MBA alternative that you should consider is completing a licensure course relevant to the financial industry. Passing this course will demonstrate your willingness to develop a career in finance and prove your job readiness.

However, this option is not available in most countries. For example, you need to be sponsored by a self-regulatory organization or a member firm to take this exam in the United States.

You can also take the Securities Industry Essential Exam (SIE) created by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which does not require sponsorship.

5. Get a Mentor

If you are serious about growing your financial career, you need to get a mentor who knows the financial industry’s ins and outs. A mentor can be anyone of influence in the financial sector that can vouch for your capabilities and help you achieve your goals.

The best way to get a mentor is to first look into your circle of acquaintances. If you don’t have anyone who can mentor you in this group, try asking for recommendations from friends and relatives. Look for someone with a teaching personality, not just someone in the position to influence the company to hire you.

Ready to Get a Job in Finance?

There are many pathways to getting a job in finance other than earning an MBA degree. The best you can do to increase your chances is to build your skill, knowledge, and network whenever possible.

Looking to increase your income or have one? Read ”10 Ways to Make Money From Home During COVID-19” to learn more.


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