Banking is one of the most rewarding careers in today’s workforce. For those who are considering entering into this prosperous, promising career, obtaining an associate degree in banking is the first step. An associate degree in banking and finance is ideal for students who enjoy helping others achieve their goals, working with math, finding solutions to problems, building customer relationships, balancing short-term and long-terms budgets, and working in groups. A typical associate degree program in banking will cover risk management, capital raising strategies, securities markets, estate planning, baking technology, human resources, leadership, and a myriad of other important banking and finance skills. Outside of their banking classes, students are expected to take a host of liberal arts courses. Because banking involves a great deal of math and interpersonal skills, students must excel in basic math and must work well with others.
Why an Associate Degree?
A large percentage of professionals that end up working in banking start their careers by pursuing an associate degree. By obtaining a degree in banking, students will cultivate a deep, thorough knowledge about the modern banking industry, which will help them become informed and dependable bankers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bankers need to acquire analytical skills, interpersonal skills, math skills, selling skills, and speaking skills in order to succeed in their profession. The BLS also emphasizes that those who desire to advance in the banking industry should enroll in courses that discuss investments, taxes, estate planning, and risk management.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
There are a number of prerequisites required for students entering an associate degree program. At a bare minimum, students must be able to fulfill the following:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Desired SAT or ACT scores
Inside a Banking Associate Degree Program
While pace may vary depending on the program, most students complete their associate degree in banking in two years. During the first year of their degree program, students are expected to take a combination of general studies courses in subjects such as English, math, history, science, and social studies. Upon completion, students take courses pertaining more closely to their major to round out their degree. Popular banking classes include personal finance, money and banking, introduction to financial institutions, and banking operations. All assignments, quizzes, projects, and exams featured in a banking degree are designed to enhance students’ knowledge of working in the modern banking industry.
Not all students are cut out for traditional degrees. Some students are better suited for the online route, in which courses may be taken remotely to accommodate conflicting schedules and priorities. Similar to most online degrees, banking materials are presented through a compilation of slideshows, podcasts, pre-recorded video lectures, and PDF files. Students communicate with their professors and peers primarily through email and Blackboard discussion forums.
What’s Next for Banking Degree Holders?
Upon graduating with a banking associate degree, students will be qualified for entry-level banking positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a banker’s annual salary depends upon the position in which they work. The median annual wage for bankers is $64,750, but the lowest 10% of bankers earns less than $33,000 a year, while the top 10% earns more than $166,000. A percentage of bankers also choose to works as self-employed financial advisors, often earning a salary solely from commissions. The BLS reports that employment for bankers is expected to grow by 32% from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than other occupations. The reason for this predicted growth is due to the aging baby boomer population, which will soon be seeking financial planning advice as they continue to reach retirement and post-retirement years.
Because the majority of financial institutions require their employees to have specific certifications and expertise, many students also choose to work towards a bachelor’s degree in banking or a related field after completing their associate degree. For example, the Certified Financial Planner Exam requires students to have at least three years of relevant work experience and a bachelor’s degree before testing for certification. For those bankers who also want to work their way up towards a management or leadership position, a master’s degree in banking is highly encouraged.