How to become an Investment Banker Without a Degree: A How-To Guide

Investment banking is a highly competitive field that offers lucrative career opportunities. However, not everyone has the chance to pursue a formal degree in finance or economics. The good news is that there are alternative paths to becoming an investment banker without a degree. This guide will explore those paths and provide tips for developing the necessary skills and gaining practical experience in the industry.

Breaking into the world of finance, particularly investment banking, is often considered a path strictly for those with formal educational backgrounds. However, the question of how to become an investment banker without a degree is increasingly relevant in today’s dynamic job market. 

While traditional paths often emphasize formal education, there are investment banker career options that allow for a more flexible entry into the field. These non-traditional routes to investment banking are gaining traction, especially as the industry evolves to value diverse skill sets and experiences.

Self-study for investment banking is one such unconventional approach, allowing aspirants to acquire the skills needed for investment banking without attending a formal institution. This method, however, requires a deep understanding of investment banking job requirements, which often include a strong grasp of financial modeling, analytics, and market trends. 

While investment banking without formal education may seem like a daunting task, the industry is gradually opening up to recognize talent over degrees. By focusing on acquiring the necessary skills and networking effectively, one can navigate the complexities of the investment banking world, even without a traditional educational background.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is possible to become an investment banker without a formal degree in finance or economics.
  • Alternative paths to investment banking include apprenticeships, internships, and starting in a related field.
  • Essential skills for investment banking include financial analysis, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Gaining practical experience through internships, volunteering, and networking is crucial for success in investment banking.
  • Transferable skills such as leadership and project management can be leveraged for a career switch into investment banking.

How To become an Investment Banker Without a Degree

Exploring Alternative Paths to Investment Banking

Investment banking is a challenging yet rewarding field that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. While many aspiring investment bankers pursue a degree in finance or a related field, not having a formal education does not necessarily rule out the possibility of a career in this industry.

There are several alternative paths to investment banking that can help you acquire the necessary skills and experience required to succeed in this field. One such route is through apprenticeships or internships. Many investment banks offer these opportunities to individuals who are willing to learn and work hard. By working alongside experienced investment bankers, you can gain valuable knowledge and skills that can help you in the long run.

Another option is to start in a related field and then transition into investment banking. This can be done by working in areas such as corporate finance, accounting, or consulting. These fields provide an excellent foundation for an investment banking career and can help you gain the necessary skills and experience that employers are looking for.

Supporting Table: Alternative Paths to Investment Banking

Alternative PathDescription
Apprenticeships/InternshipsWork alongside experienced investment bankers to gain valuable skills and experience.
Starting in a Related FieldGain experience and skills in areas such as corporate finance, accounting, or consulting before transitioning into investment banking.

Whichever alternative path you choose, it is important to develop essential skills that are required in investment banking. These skills include financial analysis, communication, problem-solving, and attention to detail. By honing these skills, you can become a competitive candidate for investment banking roles.

Next, we will discuss in detail how you can develop these skills and gain practical experience in the investment banking industry.

alternative paths to investment banking

Developing Essential Skills for Investment Banking

Working in investment banking requires a particular set of skills that are essential to success in the industry. These skills include:

  • Financial analysis and modelling abilities
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Problem-solving capabilities
  • Attention to detail

Developing these skills can be achieved through a combination of formal education, professional experience, and self-study.

One way to improve financial analysis skills is by taking accounting and finance courses. Many universities offer courses that cover topics such as financial statement analysis, corporate finance, and investment analysis. Additionally, online courses and certifications, such as those offered by Coursera or the CFA Institute, can be valuable resources. These courses can provide the foundational knowledge needed for financial analysis and modelling.

However, technical skills alone are not enough. Having strong communication skills is essential for investment bankers who need to explain complex financial concepts to clients and colleagues. Writing courses, public speaking courses, and joining a debate team can all help improve written and verbal communication skills.

Problem-solving and attention to detail go hand in hand. Solving complex problems often requires a close attention to detail, as well as the ability to think creatively. Participating in case competitions, hackathons, or joining a consulting club can all provide experience in solving complex problems.

essential skills for investment banking

Beyond formal education and professional experience, self-study can also be valuable in developing essential skills. Reading books such as “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham or “Investment Banking Explained” by Michel Fleuriet can provide insight and knowledge into the industry. Staying informed about industry news and trends through financial news sources or social media can also be valuable.

Ultimately, developing essential skills for investment banking requires a balance of formal education, professional experience, and self-study. With a strong skillset, aspiring investment bankers can stand out in a competitive job market and excel in their careers.

Gaining Experience in Investment Banking

Practical experience is crucial for anyone pursuing a career in investment banking, and there are various ways to gain it without a formal degree. One option is through internships, which allow individuals to work alongside experienced professionals, gain valuable hands-on experience, and build a network of industry contacts. To find internships, individuals can search online job boards, check with local investment banks, or inquire through their academic institutions.

Networking is another effective way to gain experience and make connections in the industry. Attending industry events, joining relevant professional associations, and reaching out to mentors or professionals already working in investment banking can open doors to potential job opportunities. Volunteering at non-profit organizations or charities related to finance may also provide exposure to the industry and allow for networking opportunities.

For those who may not have the means or connections for an internship or networking events, there are other alternatives. Online courses and certifications can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge needed for a career in investment banking. Additionally, self-directed projects such as analyzing companies or managing a mock investment portfolio can demonstrate practical skills and dedication to the industry.

Ultimately, the key to gaining experience in investment banking is to be proactive and persistent in seeking out opportunities. With hard work and dedication, it is possible to build a successful career in this field without a formal degree.

Gaining experience in investment banking

Image source: alternative paths to investment banking

Self-Study for Investment Banking

If you’re interested in becoming an investment banker without a degree, self-study is an excellent way to develop a foundational knowledge in finance and economics. There are numerous resources available online that can help you improve your analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills necessary for investment banking.

Read Books: There are many books available on finance and investment banking written by industry experts. Choose books that are relevant to your area of interest and study them thoroughly to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.

Take Online Courses: Online courses are a great way to develop a specialized skillset without the need for a degree. Platforms like Coursera and edX offer courses on finance, accounting, and economics, among others.

Stay Updated: Stay up to date with industry news and developments by reading financial news publications such as The Financial Times and The Economist. This will give you a better understanding of the current trends and challenges in the industry.

Obtain Certifications: Certifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are highly regarded in the investment banking industry. They can demonstrate your proficiency in finance and give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

Practice: To excel in investment banking, you must practice and refine your skills. Try solving case studies or working on financial modelling to gain practical experience and improve your analytical skills.

Remember that self-study is not a substitute for practical experience, but it can help you gain a fundamental understanding of the industry and give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

Self-Study for Investment Banking

“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” – Warren Buffet

Breaking into Investment Banking: A Step-by-Step Approach

If you are interested in a career in investment banking without a degree, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of success. Keep in mind that breaking into investment banking requires dedication, persistence, and hard work. Here is a step-by-step approach you can follow:

Step 1: Network and Build Connections

Networking is crucial to getting a foot in the door of the investment banking world. Attend industry events, reach out to professionals in the field for advice and mentorship, and connect with alumni from your university. Utilize online platforms such as LinkedIn to build your professional network and learn about potential job openings. Remember, building relationships takes time, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.

Step 2: Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

Make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your relevant skills and experiences. Research the company and the position you are applying for, and tailor your application to show how you can add value to the organization. Emphasize any transferable skills you have gained from past experiences, such as leadership, teamwork, and analytical thinking.

Step 3: Prepare for Interviews

Prepare thoroughly for your interviews by researching the company, practicing your responses to common interview questions, and anticipating questions specific to the investment banking industry. Be ready to highlight your skills and experiences that align with the position you are applying for. Dress professionally, arrive early, and be confident and personable during the interview.

Step 4: Showcase Relevant Skills and Experiences

Showcase your skills and experiences that are relevant to investment banking. This could include internships, volunteer work, or projects you completed in school. Highlight any financial analysis or modeling experience you have, as well as any experience with financial software such as Excel, Bloomberg, or FactSet. Alternatively, link examples of your work or projects to show your capabilities through writing blogs or creating videos.

Step 5: Emphasize Your Motivation and Drive

Emphasize your motivation and drive to break into the investment banking industry. Highlight any self-study or coursework you have completed to develop your skills and knowledge, and be prepared to discuss why you are interested in a career in investment banking. Demonstrate a strong work ethic and willingness to learn and grow within the industry.

Step 6: Continue to Improve Your Skills

Investment banking is a highly competitive industry that requires continuous learning and improvement. Stay up to date with industry news and trends by following reputable financial news sources. Take advantage of online courses and certifications to develop your skills in areas such as financial modeling, valuation, and accounting. Keep track of your progress and set goals for self-improvement.

Breaking into Investment Banking

Breaking into investment banking without a degree takes time and effort, but it is possible with the right mindset and approach. By networking, tailoring your application, preparing for interviews, showcasing your relevant experiences and skills, and continuously improving, you can increase your chances of landing a role in investment banking.

Leveraging Transferable Skills

If you’re considering a career switch into investment banking without a formal degree, it’s important to highlight your transferable skills. These are skills that can be applied across multiple industries and roles, and can set you apart from other candidates.

Leadership is a valuable skill in investment banking, as it requires the ability to manage teams and handle complex projects. If you’ve held leadership positions in previous roles, be sure to highlight those experiences on your resume and in interviews.

Analytical thinking is another crucial skill in investment banking, as it involves interpreting large amounts of data and making informed decisions. If you have experience in data analysis, financial modeling, or risk assessment, emphasize those skills as well.

Project management and teamwork are also highly valued in investment banking, as much of the work is collaborative and deadline-driven. If you’ve worked on cross-functional teams or managed projects from start to finish, those experiences can be leveraged as well.

Remember, even if you don’t have direct experience in investment banking, you likely have skills and experiences that can be transferred to the industry. Don’t hesitate to highlight those skills and make a case for how you’d be a valuable asset to an investment bank.

transferable skills in investment banking

Networking and Building Connections

Networking is a critical component in the investment banking industry, and building connections can help in gaining access to job opportunities and professional development. With non-traditional backgrounds, it is even more important to establish meaningful connections with professionals who can provide guidance and serve as advocates.

One way to network is by attending industry events and conferences. These events provide opportunities to meet and interact with professionals in the field. Many associations also offer mentorship programs, which can help individuals develop their skills and gain insights into the industry.

Online networking platforms such as LinkedIn can also be useful in building connections. It is essential to optimize your LinkedIn profile and regularly engage with industry professionals through posts, comments, and direct messages. Leveraging alumni networks or personal connections can also lead to valuable connections.


Remember to approach networking with a genuine interest in building relationships rather than a focus solely on job prospects. Building trust and rapport takes time and effort, but the rewards can be significant in the long run.

Overcoming Challenges and Obstacles

Breaking into the investment banking industry without a degree can be a daunting task, and there may be several challenges along the way. However, it’s essential to stay motivated and focused on your goal. Don’t let rejection or setbacks discourage you from pursuing your dream career.

One way to overcome obstacles is to seek mentorship from professionals in the industry. They can offer valuable insights and advice on how to navigate the job market and develop essential skills. Building a strong network of connections can also open up opportunities and provide support throughout your journey.

Continuous self-improvement is also crucial to staying competitive and relevant in the investment banking field. It’s essential to keep learning and refining your skills, whether through online courses, certifications, or practical experience. Keep an open mind and embrace new challenges as opportunities to grow and develop.

Remember that perseverance is key to success, and don’t give up on your goals. Keep focusing on your strengths and transferable skills, and find ways to showcase them to potential employers. With dedication and hard work, it’s possible to break into the investment banking industry and achieve your career goals.

overcoming challenges in investment banking

Staying Updated with Industry Trends

In the dynamic world of investment banking, staying up-to-date with changing trends and developments is crucial for success. Keeping abreast of the latest news and market insights can help you make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

One way to stay informed about industry trends is to follow reputable financial news sources, such as The Financial Times or Bloomberg. These sources provide in-depth analysis and commentary on market trends and events, as well as insights from industry experts.

Another way to stay updated is to join relevant professional associations or organizations, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute or the Investment Banking Council. These groups offer access to industry events, webinars, and networking opportunities, as well as newsletters and publications highlighting the latest trends and developments.

Participating in industry conferences or webinars is also an excellent way to gain insight into emerging trends and to connect with industry leaders. These events provide opportunities to hear from experts and to engage in meaningful discussions about the future of the industry.

Staying updated with industry trends is essential for success in the competitive world of investment banking. With a willingness to learn and a commitment to ongoing education and self-improvement, you can stay ahead of the curve and achieve your career goals.

investment banking trends


Becoming an investment banker without a degree may seem daunting, but it’s certainly possible. By exploring alternative paths to investment banking, developing essential skills, gaining experience, and networking effectively, you can make your dream a reality. In this article, we’ve discussed various strategies to help you break into the investment banking industry, even without a formal education. Remember, perseverance and resilience are key to overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way. Stay focused on your goals, improve your skills continually, and stay updated with the latest industry trends. With dedication and hard work, you can forge a successful career in investment banking. Good luck!


Q: Can I become an investment banker without a degree?

A: Yes, it is possible to become an investment banker without a formal degree. There are alternative paths available, such as apprenticeships, internships, or starting in a related field and transitioning into investment banking.

Q: What skills do I need for investment banking?

A: Essential skills for investment banking include financial analysis, communication, problem-solving, and attention to detail. These skills can be developed through online courses, self-study, or practical experience.

Q: How can I gain experience in investment banking?

A: Practical experience in investment banking can be gained through internships, networking, volunteering, joining professional associations, or participating in industry events.

Q: Can I study investment banking on my own?

A: Yes, self-study is a viable option for learning about investment banking. You can read books, take online courses or certifications, and stay updated with industry news and trends.

Q: How can I break into investment banking without a degree?

A: Breaking into investment banking without a degree requires networking, tailoring resumes and cover letters, preparing for interviews, and showcasing relevant skills and experiences. It’s important to understand the job requirements and expectations in the industry.

Q: How can I leverage my transferable skills for an investment banking career?

A: Individuals with non-traditional backgrounds can leverage transferable skills such as leadership, analytical thinking, project management, and teamwork to make a successful career switch into investment banking. Highlighting these skills to potential employers is crucial.

Q: How important is networking in investment banking?

A: Networking is highly important in the investment banking industry. Building professional relationships, attending industry events, utilizing online platforms, and seeking mentorship are effective ways to network.

Q: What are some common challenges in entering the investment banking industry?

A: Common challenges include staying motivated, seeking mentorship, continuously improving skills, and remaining resilient in the face of rejections or setbacks.

Q: How can I stay updated with industry trends in investment banking?

A: Staying informed about industry trends and developments in investment banking can be done by following reputable financial news sources, joining professional associations, and participating in industry conferences or webinars.