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Investment Banker: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an investment banker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job duties and necessary experience to find out if this is the career for you.

If you're thinking about a career as an investment banker, you will need at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience, as this is not an entry-level position. Some firms only hire candidates with master's degrees, and most investment bankers work in their own offices or they travel to their clients' workplaces.

Essential Information

Investment bankers perform a variety of roles, from advising clients on financial strategy to raising money for businesses. While some firms hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree, others prefer candidates who have an advanced degree.

Required Education Bachelor's or graduate degree
Other Requirements Relevant work experience; licensure required
Projected Growth (2014-2024)* 10% for all securities, commodities and financial services sales agents
Median Salary (2015)* $71,550 for all securities, commodities and financial services sales agents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Descriptions for Investment Bankers

Investment bankers may act as portfolio managers or financiers. These professionals typically work in an office setting, but may travel to a client's workplace in order to conduct meetings and presentations. For example, some investment bankers may meet with clients to arrange and negotiate large financial transactions for businesses looking to expand their operations.

Portfolio Managers

Investment bankers working as portfolio managers use money pooled from multiple clients to buy and sell assets to earn a profit. Duties include researching market trends and deciding where to invest capital. They are responsible for overseeing multiple investments in the portfolio to balance risk of loss against potential profit. Portfolio managers may handle a portfolio individually or as part of a team of investment professionals.

Financiers

Investment banking financiers work with businesses to help them with budgetary issues. This may include raising money for new ventures or streamlining business costs by identifying areas of excessive spending. These professionals generally specialize in an industry like energy, healthcare, or technology.

Requirements for Investment Bankers

A bachelor's degree in business administration or a related field like finance is required to become an investment banker, though many employers prefer or require a master's degree. Because these professionals use mathematical models to predict potential outcomes, most undergraduate programs require students to complete courses in calculus and statistics. Advanced courses in these majors generally cover concepts ranging from mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to financial accounting.

Due to keen competition for jobs, students are generally advised to complete an internship prior to graduating. Internships allow students to work within an investment bank, analyzing assets and portfolios using valuation models. These positions help students hone their analytical skills, as well as network within the field. Connections made during internships can help aspiring investment bankers secure a job after graduating.

Work Experience

Investment banker isn't usually an entry-level position. Instead, college graduates typically begin as analysts and work with associate or more senior-level managers. Analysts assist in the research and study of market data and industry trends. Some firms prefer candidates who have analytical experience within a given job description like M&A.

Advanced Degree

Firms may prefer to hire applicants who have earned an advanced degree, like a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Often lasting one to two years, MBA programs typically cover topics ranging from strategic management to asset analysis. Students may also be given the opportunity to work on projects for different firms, allowing them to gain an advanced insight in the field.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes investment bankers as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. The employment of such agents is projected to increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The same source reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary earned by these professionals was $71,550.

Investment bankers work with businesses or individuals to manage financial portfolios or work as financiers. Work experience is preferred, as is a bachelor's or master's degree, with a solid background in calculus, statistics and financial accounting. Internships are recommended for experience and networking, and job openings for all securities, commodities and financial services sales agents are predicted to grow at a faster-than-average rate through 2024.

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