How To Become An Investment Banker: A Step-By-Step Guide (2024)

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

When you look at small businesses, medium businesses and even companies so big they’ve become household names, most entrepreneurs share something in common: They worked with investment bankers to make their dreams a reality. Investment bankers are key players in bringing any company to the stock market.

Investment banking is the glue that connects businesses, investors and financial markets. Investment bankers help their clients facilitate IPOs, increase revenue, balance their books and identify opportunities for growth.

If you want to learn how to get into investment banking, read on. From educational and licensure requirements to investment subfields and necessary skills, this article will tell you everything you need to know about breaking into this profession.

Why You Can Trust Forbes Advisor Education

Forbes Advisor’s education editors are committed to producing unbiased rankings and informative articles covering online colleges, tech bootcamps and career paths. Our ranking methodologies use data from the National Center for Education Statistics, education providers, and reputable educational and professional organizations. An advisory board of educators and other subject matter experts reviews and verifies our content to bring you trustworthy, up-to-date information. Advertisers do not influence our rankings or editorial content.

  • 6,290 accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities analyzed nationwide
  • 52 reputable tech bootcamp providers evaluated for our rankings
  • All content is fact-checked and updated on an annual basis
  • Rankings undergo five rounds of fact-checking
  • Only 7.12% of all colleges, universities and bootcamp providers we consider are awarded

What Is an Investment Banker?

Investment bankers are financial professionals who help companies gain capital resources through a variety of activities, such as connecting businesses to investors and supporting initial public offerings (IPOs).

What Does an Investment Banker Do?

Investment bankers provide an array of financial advisory services to institutional clients. A typical day in the life of an investment banker ultimately depends on the banker’s experience and the client’s needs. However, most investment bankers work long, sometimes stressful hours.

Capital raising is a large component of being an investment banker. This process includes selling securities to investors, facilitating IPOs and book building—the practice of estimating a company’s value before it goes public on the stock market. Investment bankers also facilitate mergers and acquisitions and provide hedge, mutual and pension fund advisory services.

Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for investment bankers is around $118,200 per year, according to Payscale data from January 2024. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that securities, commodities and financial services sales careers—which include investment bankers—will grow by 7% from 2022 to 2032. This projected growth is faster than the 3% growth projected for all occupations nationwide.

Because the U.S. is an international center for finance, the BLS projects that the growth of foreign economies will lead to further employment in the American financial industry.


Investment bankers must perform many duties, typically in fast-paced, high-pressure environments. Their responsibilities include conducting financial analysis and research, creating client-facing presentations, developing relationships with new and existing clients and performing valuations.

Types of Investment Banking

There are various kinds of investment banking. We explore two subcategories below:

Corporate Finance

Corporate finance deals with all financial matters of a business organization. Corporate finance professionals find ways for companies to grow, make acquisitions and plan for enterprises’ financial futures. They manage the company’s money, helping clients find ways to cut costs and increase revenue.

Industry Coverage

Industry coverage refers to investment banking for a specific industry. For example, investment bankers may provide financial advisory services to clients in the technology or healthcare industry with deep-rooted expertise in that specific field.

Important Skills for Investment Bankers

Investment bankers need sharp mathematical and analytical skills as well as solid communication capabilities. Here are some of the top skills investment bankers should bring to the table.

Analytical Skills

Investment bankers must analyze financial models, trends, documents and other data to advise clients.

Attention to Detail

Investment bankers work with complex sets of data, many of which impact organizations’ financial health. These professionals need attention to detail so they can provide clients with accurate information and prevent errors from damaging companies’ finances.


Investment bankers work in high-stakes scenarios. In many cases, they work with large companies and big industry names. Confidence is critical to ensuring they can perform in challenging environments to close deals and ensure funding for their clients.


Because they often work in fast-paced environments, investment bankers must think on their feet and make snap decisions. They need to make wise financial choices on behalf of their clients.

Math Skills

Investment bankers should have a good grasp of basic math skills and be able to do quick calculations when necessary.

Knowledge of Ethics and Compliance

Financial institutions are subject to state, federal and international regulations. Investment bankers must ensure their activities comply with all applicable laws. Understanding how to make ethical financial decisions is also vital to forming healthy relationships with clients and building a more responsible business model.

How To Become an Investment Banker

What does it take to become an investment banker? The process requires several years of school, earning a license and obtaining experience on the job.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Investment bankers start by earning a bachelor’s degree, usually in a field like business administration, finance or statistics. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years of full-time study. Students can also pursue an internship or gain work experience while completing the degree.

Consider Graduate School

Investment bankers can pursue a graduate degree after earning their bachelor’s. These professionals can earn an M.B.A. is common, which can lead to higher-level positions and increased salaries. If you need flexibility in your degree, you can pursue an M.B.A. online.

Gain Experience

Many investment bankers receive training on the job. That can include attending conferences and training seminars.

Register With FINRA

All investment bankers are required to obtain a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This license gives holders the right to sell investment products and services.

Earning a FINRA license involves passing a series of qualification exams. After receiving their license, investment bankers must enroll in continuing education to maintain industry standards and practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How To Become an Investment Banker

How long does it take to become an 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.

Is it hard to become an investment banker?

Becoming an investment banker requires several years of higher education in addition to licensure. It also requires strong mathematical and analytical capabilities, which may be challenging for some people. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, investment bankers may need a master’s in finance or an M.B.A. degree, which poses its own challenges.

Do investment bankers get paid well?

Actual salaries vary by location and experience level, but the average annual salary for investment bankers nationwide is approximately $118,200, according to January 2024 Payscale data.

Can I become an investment banker with an online degree?

Yes, multiple schools offer online degrees that can lead to investment banker careers. Earning a degree online can provide greater flexibility for those with more demanding schedules.

How To Become An Investment Banker: A Step-By-Step Guide (2024)


How To Become An Investment Banker: A Step-By-Step Guide? ›

Becoming an investment banker requires several years of higher education in addition to licensure. It also requires strong mathematical and analytical capabilities, which may be challenging for some people. In addition to a bachelor's degree, investment bankers may need a master's in finance or an M.B.A.

What do I need to do to become an investment banker? ›

Becoming an investment banker requires several years of higher education in addition to licensure. It also requires strong mathematical and analytical capabilities, which may be challenging for some people. In addition to a bachelor's degree, investment bankers may need a master's in finance or an M.B.A.

How long does it take to become an investment banking? ›

The path to starting a career in investment banking can be as short as just 4 years — the typical length of a bachelor's degree program. Depending on the specific job you want, more time may be needed to complete a master's degree program or professional registration exams.

How do I start preparing for investment banking? ›

Once you understand your path and the proper timing, here are the set of steps to follow:
  1. Step 1: Win “Steppingstone” Internships or Jobs. ...
  2. Step 2: Craft Your Story. ...
  3. Step 3: Bankify Your Resume/CV. ...
  4. Step 4: Network Your Way into Interviews and Offers. ...
  5. Step 5: Prepare for Investment Banking Interviews.

Can you become an investment banker without a degree? ›

A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational qualification required to work as an investment banker. Entry-level analyst positions in the field are typically open to bachelor's degree graduates, and it is possible to move on to a senior banker role without a master's degree in many investment banks.

What is the GPA cutoff for investment banking? ›

The cutoffs can vary by bank and year, and a GPA between 3.5 and 3.7 might still be acceptable for candidates from target schools. For those from non-target schools, the bar can be higher, though exceptional stories or connections can sometimes make a difference.

What is the highest paying finance job? ›

Highest-paying finance jobs
  • Investment banker. ...
  • Hedge fund manager. ...
  • Financial analyst. ...
  • Information technology auditor.
  • Financial software developer. ...
  • Private equity associate. ...
  • Chief compliance officer. ...
  • Chief financial officer.
Apr 18, 2024

What is the easiest way to get into investment banking? ›

A college degree in finance or economics is typically the starting point for entry-level jobs at an investment bank. Accounting and business are also common educational backgrounds.

What degree is best for investment banking? ›

An MBA is the typical terminal degree for an investment banker. Some investment bankers do choose to continue their education in other ways. Many pursue additional continuing education courses and certifications in banking or certifications in finance to remain competitive in the fast-paced industry landscape.

Why is it so hard to get into investment banking? ›

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.

How many hours do investment bankers work? ›

How Many Hours do Investment Bankers Work? Investment bankers work notoriously long hours, with the typical work week filling in 60-80 hours per week, and the occasional high-intensity work week that can push a banker to 100+ hours.

Do you need a CFA to be an investment banker? ›

The CFA covers plenty of material that goes beyond the job of an IB Analyst or Associate… which is exactly why you don't need it. For example, they won't ask about quantitative methods, derivatives, or portfolio management in a standard investment banking interview.

Can you become an investment banker without going to a target school? ›

This means that over half of our successful students didn't come from target schools. Not only that, but if you look at the offers our students have gotten from the top 50 investment banks on Wall Street - almost 30% of the elite boutique offers went to students that didn't attend target schools.

Is it hard 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.

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.

What certifications do you need for an investment banker? ›

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 ...

Is becoming an investment banker worth it? ›

Investment bankers are typically the highest-paid workers in the finance industry—high salaries are most prevalent even among younger employees. The starting salary for the typical investment banker exceeds that of most other finance positions, but working in this field has its challenges.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Last Updated:

Views: 6272

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Birthday: 1993-01-10

Address: Suite 391 6963 Ullrich Shore, Bellefort, WI 01350-7893

Phone: +6806610432415

Job: Dynamic Manufacturing Assistant

Hobby: amateur radio, Taekwondo, Wood carving, Parkour, Skateboarding, Running, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Pres. Lawanda Wiegand, I am a inquisitive, helpful, glamorous, cheerful, open, clever, innocent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.