Which joining route will you take?


Here are some recommended GCSE or A level subject choices, which could set you in the right direction for a career in financial services.

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Computing
  • Business Studies
  • Maths/Statistics
  • Law
Professional bodies, such as the CISI, offer introductory qualifications to help you build the skills employers are looking for. Adding a professional qualification to your CV will help you impress employers and show you really want to build a career in financial services. Some of these can be studied independently via distance learning using workbooks and elearning.

Work Experience and Internships

Work experience is really important and a great way to sample what working in the professional sector is really like. Many firms in the banking sector will fill the majority of their full time places with interns from previous years. In fact, internships, or work experience, are almost becoming essential when finding a graduate role in the sector.

finance-interns.com list opportunities available.


Completing A levels and equivalent qualifications can lead on to studying at university and securing a degree. A 2:1 degree is generally the minimum requirement for all employers. The good news is that most companies are interested in graduates from all degree backgrounds – you don’t necessarily need to have a finance or mathematically related degree to be considered. Employers will expect your degree to demonstrate your critical thinking analytical skills, enthusiasm and drive, rather than career-specific training. Most banks run graduate recruitment schemes and this is often the common route into jobs such as investment banking, stockbroking and analysis.

The CISI has links with many universities. Find out more at cisi.org/universities.

School Leaver Programmes and Entry Level Jobs

Some firms offer school-leaver programmes and you can find out about these by checking on their websites and searching online. Also look out for entry-level jobs such as data entry and administration; these can help you get a ‘foot in the door’ at large organisations, which may offer the opportunity to progress if you work hard.

directions.org.uk and insidecareers.co.uk list post- school and college job opportunities within the finance sector.


An apprenticeship combines a job with an accompanying skills development programme designed by employers. Young people and adult learners can earn a salary whilst gaining technical knowledge and real practical experience, along with functional and personal skills, required for their immediate job and future career. A typical programme includes:

  • A nationally recognised vocational qualification
  • A technical certificate such as the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC)
  • Functional skills in English, Maths and for some apprenticeships, IT
  • Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS)
  • Employer Rights and Responsibilities (ERR)

Why Become an Apprentice?

Earn while you learn
All apprentices must receive the appropriate national minimum wage:
  • adult rate: £6.70 per hour
  • rate for 18 to 20 year olds: £5.30 per hour
  • rate for 16 to 17 year olds: £3.87 per hour
  • apprentice rate:£3.30 per hour

A real job
Apprenticeships are available at Intermediate, Advanced and Higher (degree) level, covering more than 170 industries and 1500 job roles, from advertising to youth work via environmental engineering and nuclear decommissioning.

A real qualification
Quality is key to apprenticeships. All apprenticeships must be at least 12 months long and lead to a national qualification that is respected by employers around the world.

A real future
After finishing, the majority of apprentices (85%) will stay in employment, with two-thirds (64%) staying with the same employer.

Find out more at cisi.org/apprenticeships or apprenticeships.org.uk.

How can we help you?

You might be planning to go to university or straight into a job, or simply looking into all of the available career options. Whatever your situation, the CISI can help you get started.

We offer a range of qualifications which are designed to help young people learn about and enter the financial services sector. You can study our qualifications at school or college, alongside your A levels, or we also have study options suited to those in employment, fulfilling an apprenticeship, on a gap year or between jobs.

Our qualifications will provide you with a valuable understanding of the investment profession and could help you find your first job in a top investment bank.

Five reasons to study with the CISI

  1. Many of the world’s top banks take CISI exams and our qualifications are highly recognised within the professional sector
  2. 50% discount available on all CISI qualifications for those in full time education
  3. We have elearning tools which make studying interactive and fun
  4. Adding a professional qualification to your CV will impress employers
  5. You will receive CISI Student membership and have access to our online resources, events and magazines

How can we help your school/college?

If your school is interested in teaching CISI qualifications as part of their sixth form curriculum then we can help to train staff and support the delivery of our courses:

We already work with a network of educational centres and have partnered many of these with leading financial firms. This enables schools to build partnerships with employers to offer professional days and work experience opportunities for students studying CISI qualifications.

Five reasons why your school should join the CISI

  1. Develop students’ financial awareness and boost their CVs with a professionally-recognised award
  2. Free teacher training and learning materials
  3. The Diploma in Finance, Risk & Investment is fully recognised by Ofqual and carries UCAS points
  4. Flexible teaching structure and the opportunity for students to progress onto higher-level qualifications
  5. Work experience opportunities and career insight days for students

CV and Interview Tips

CV Do’s...

  • Write your name, address, nationality and visa situation (if applicable)
  • Detail your current and previous employment, role and dates worked
  • Outline your educational background and academic achievements/qualifications
  • Include any positions of responsibility such as school prefect or sports captain
  • Include a brief summary of your hobbies and achievements
  • Include referee details
  • Keep the CV ideally to one page, maximum two pages
  • Write in the first person
  • Include a job-specific cover letter
  • Keep your sentences short and concise

...and Don’t

  • Lie or embellish your CV

Interview Do’s...

  • Be punctual
  • Remember that first impressions count
  • Maintain good eye contact and engaged body language
  • Be ready to turn your weaknesses into strengths
  • Demonstrate keenness and a positive attitude
  • Make sure you give a positive final impression

...and Don’ts

  • Give one-word answers
  • Have your mobile on display (or take a call…)
  • Be defensive or give misleading answers
  • Forget to do your research on the company and (if you can) the interviewer

Useful information

Professional Sector information

investopedia.com - Investopedia is a resource for investing education, personal finance, market analysis and free trading simulators.

bankofengland.co.uk - The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom.

ft.com - The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations and provides essential news, comment, data and analysis for the global business community.

londonstockexchange.com - London Stock Exchange is one of the world’s oldest stock exchanges and can trace its history back more than 300 years.

General career advice

prospects.ac.uk - Prospects provide careers advice and job and course opportunities to students and graduates to help people make informed choices about their career options.

directions.org.uk - Directions is a one stop shop for information on careers with finance and law including job profiles and films on the Careers Hub, to advice on how to get in to the profession through work experience, school-leaver programmes, apprenticeships and graduate schemes.

apprenticeships.org.uk - The National Apprenticeship Service provides detailed information about apprenticeships, how to get started and opportunities available.

totalprofessions.com - Total Professions was set up with the aim of bringing professional bodies together to encourage and inspire the career aspirations of all people, whatever their background.

accesstotheprofessions.org - Professions Week is a week dedicated to increasing awareness of the range and variety of potential employment options the professionals have to offer.