Since the rise of post-Civil War economic development, citizens have relied on banks and financial institutions to protect their assets, savings, bonds, and financial futures. Even today, banking is still one of the most respected, fastest growing careers in the United States, and that’s why many students decide to study to become bankers. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in banking, some college students even choose to move forward with a master’s degree. A masters degree in banking and finance is an ideal major for those who like to solve mathematical problems, analyze possible solutions, cultivate friendly, trustworthy customer relationships, and collaborate in groups. A degree program in this subject covers important banking topics, including risk management, project management, corporate finance, mergers, acquisitions, banking innovation, capital raising strategies, securities markets, estate planning, international markets, and financial markets. Because working in today’s banking industry requires a firm knowledge of math skills and interpersonal communications, banking students should excel in these two key areas.
Why a Master’s Degree?
While some students choose an associate degree in banking, now more than ever there is a need for more educated, skilled bankers in the industry. Since the economic crisis of 2008 that resulted in the Dodd-Frank Act and stricter federal laws, there has been an increased demand for more skilled, knowledgeable bankers. Because of this, banks and financial institutions are expecting more of their employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bank professionals entering into the industry are encouraged to have at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree. The BLS also reports that bankers need a deep understanding of analytical skills, interpersonal skills, math skills, selling skills, and speaking skills to excel in their banking careers. All of these specialties take time, patience, hard work, and studying to achieve, which is why a master’s degree is a great investment for those who want to excel in the banking industry.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Master’s degree programs can be relatively competitive, with less accepted students per term than undergraduate programs. To be considered for admission into a master’s degree program, students need to submit an array of credentials that indicate the likelihood they’ll succeed, such as:
- Bachelor’s degree in banking, finance, or related subject.
- Relevant work experience.
- Professional and academic references.
- Approved undergraduate GPA.
Inside a Master’s Degree Program
Depending on their course load, students take about two years of full-time coursework to complete their master’s degree in banking. During their degree program, students will learn about the insights, critical thinking, and analytical skills needed to resolve problems in today’s changing financial environment. By the end of their master’s degree, students should be forward-thinkers with an ability to understand and analyze the financial services industry. All assignments, quizzes, projects, and exams featured in graduate school banking programs are designed to enhance one’s knowledge of the evolving banking industry. Many graduate banking schools also allow students to choose a concentration within their degree as well, such as financial and managerial accounting, financial markets and institutions, or mergers and acquisitions.
Some students choose to obtain their master’s degree through online schools. An online master’s degree is similar to a traditional brick-and-mortar degree, yet online students are usually allowed to complete courses at their own leisure. Because of this, online degrees appeal to those who prefer distance learning or have any number of personal or professional commitments. Course materials in online classes are presented through a combination of slides, video lectures, audio recordings, class notes, and class study guides. Based on the school, students usually submit their assignments and exams through online platforms and email submissions to the class professor.
What’s Next for Banking Degree Holders?
After graduating with a master’s degree, students will be qualified to enter into high-level banking positions, such as financial analysts, financial advisors, loan officers, treasurers, and budget analysts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a banker’s annual salary depends on their job position, the location of their job, their level of experience, and their certification levels. The average annual wage for bankers is $64,750, but the lowest 10% of bankers earn less than $33,000 a year while the top 10% earn more than $166,000. A small percentage of banking graduates choose to work as self-employed financial advisors, earning a salary solely from commissions. The BLS also reports that employment for bankers is expected to grow by 32% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than most occupations. The reason for this growth is due to the aging Baby Boomer population, which will soon be seeking financial planning advice as they reach retirement and post-retirement years. With a master’s degree, a student has a lot of room for growth in today’s banking industry.