There are plenty of opportunities in accountancy, investment management, banking and insurance for both school leavers and graduates. The best, first step is to pick a topic, or in this case, a niche.

There are usually two routes in most finance careers. You can go to university full time first and then apply for a graduate job, or you can join an employer after your A levels or equivalent and start earning while you learn. But you DON’T necessarily need a degree to get a financial based job.

Here’s how to get into a finance-based role…

A degree is of course important, but you aren’t doomed without one. The ability to build relationships and communicate is majorly important. However, if you’re looking into an area like accounting, that can require certain certifications.

There are parts of some businesses that require specific degrees, but what surprises people is the variety of degrees you can have and still be successful in the finance industry. So, before you say to yourself “I’m not qualified,” think again. The real key is to have interpersonal skills, analytical ability, and problem-solving skills. While these may sound generic, they are essential in the finance industry. And for those not right out of college, make sure you’re able to explain what you’re doing now, what skills you’ve acquired, and your career trajectory.

Breaking in to the Industry

For recent graduates, a great point of entry is a financial analyst program such as Apprenticeships and Internships. These programs usually last around a few months to two years (depending on the company) and are typically rotational, so you can try your hand in a few different departments. At the end of the rotation, you’ll have built a network within the company and will be eligible for a variety of full-time, temporary and permanent roles.

It’s also important to make sure your CV is up to snuff. You need to be realistic and selective about what jobs you’re applying for. It’s a good idea to start small and work your way up. Just remember, each CV is probably only going to get a 30 second look so make your story clear and visible. Be selective and do not be a serial applicant.

Switching in to the Industry

For those who are looking to make the switch into the finance industry, your network will be your best friend. Whether it’s personal or professional, make your connections for someone who may be able to help you get your foot in the door. Invest in yourself and network the right way. With any mid-career shift, you may have to make a lateral move, in title and salary, rather than expecting a promotion. Be honest with yourself and consider if you’re willing to make this kind of move.

It’s also important to look at the skills you have, and the ones needed for a career in finance (think communication, analytical thinking). How many of these do you have? Are you willing to take the time to learn the ones you don’t? Think about times in your career that you’ve needed and used these skills effectively and be ready to talk about it in a future interview.

Start volunteering

Volunteering positions are more easily won than an internship and they’re a sure-fire way to boost your employability, especially if you have no relevant experience. While unpaid, what you lack in financial gain you’ll profit from in terms of the skills and contacts.

Employer’s value volunteering experience as it shows commitment, initiative and a strong work ethic – after all, you will be working for free.

This kind of experience also provides a range of sought-after transferable skills, such as team work, confidence, time management, flexibility, communication and organisation. However, any volunteering experience will bolster your CV and give you real life examples to mention at your interview.

In conclusion, there are many ways you can kick-start your career in Finance whether you have a relevant degree or not. Just remember to be realistic and positive.