While many universities advertise the amazing careers their graduates land after completing a finance degree, the truth is that many financial careers don't require you to go through college first. Credentials like on-the-job experience and licenses can be much more important.

SEE: Should You Add A Securities License To Your Repertoire?

Financial Advisor
Chike Uzoka, founder and CEO of Valentine Global, is a prime example of how you can land a financial career without a college degree. His career began when he joined New York Life Insurance Company by first obtaining his FINRA (then NASD) Series 6 and Series 7 licenses, as well as becoming licensed as an insurance agent. Eventually, Uzoka moved to Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor, a position that did not require a college degree. He did need an additional license, the FINRA Series 66 license. Each licensing exam required plenty of studying, but Uzoka was able to use practice tests and other study materials to prepare for the tests.

Enrolled Agent
If you're focused on careers that let you learn on the job, becoming an enrolled agent with the IRS may be one of the best options to consider. Enrolled agents have the same standing in working with the IRS on taxes as a CPA or even an attorney. There are two paths to earning the enrolled agent credential: you can either work for the IRS (in a specific section) for five years or you can sit for an exam administered by the IRS that is intended to demonstrate experience. There are a variety of other careers related to taxes that don't require college degrees as well, including tax preparation.

Loan Officer
Banking has its fair share of careers worth considering. Many loan officers start out with a high school diploma and move up with on-the-job training. Employers tend to look for previous experience with lending or banking for such positions, but it depends on the institution. Due to federal legislation enacted in 2011, loan officers are required to have licenses, which in turn, require 20 hours of coursework and a written exam. Loan officers have many opportunities for advancement throughout banking organizations, offering a path to many other financial positions.

Insurance Underwriter
Similarly, many insurance professional enter the industry through becoming an insurance underwriter. Most insurance underwriters start as trainees or assistants, learning the ropes on the job, so earning a college degree first is unnecessary. It may be useful for advancement, but because continuing education is required for many of the certifications used in the insurance industry, you'll likely find that more specific classes offered by industry organizations are more useful for a career in insurance.

There are a wide variety of accounting positions that can offer you a start. Many accountants start as bookkeepers or accounting clerks and build on that experience to earn accounting positions. Employers tend to give preference to accountants with at least some college, but provided you meet certain requirements, college is not required. You'll find the same situation with positions related to accounting, such as cost estimating or credit management. There are a variety of different credentials related to accounting, some of which require a college degree for completion.

The Bottom Line
It is important to note that you may be competing with college graduates for many financial positions, whether or not a degree is necessary for the job. That shouldn't stop you from going after such jobs, but it's a fact that you need to be aware of so that you can build a competitive edge. Provided you're dedicated to working in a financial field, you can build a career with a variety of jobs, no matter whether college you plan on going to college or not.

SEE: Experience Or Education: Which One Lands You The Job?

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Credit Risk Analyst: Job Description and Average Salary

    Learn what credit risk analysts do every day and how much money they make on average, and identify the skills and education needed for this career.
  2. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  3. Personal Finance

    How Tech Can Help with 3 Behavioral Finance Biases

    Even if you’re a finance or statistics expert, you’re not immune to common decision-making mistakes that can negatively impact your finances.
  4. Investing Basics

    5 Tips For Diversifying Your Portfolio

    A diversified portfolio will protect you in a tough market. Get some solid tips here!
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Identifying And Managing Business Risks

    There are a lot of risks associated with running a business, but there are an equal number of ways to prepare for and manage them.
  6. Active Trading

    An Introduction To Depreciation

    Companies make choices and assumptions in calculating depreciation, and you need to know how these affect the bottom line.
  7. Forex Education

    Explaining Uncovered Interest Rate Parity

    Uncovered interest rate parity is when the difference in interest rates between two nations is equal to the expected change in exchange rates.
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    Using Decision Trees In Finance

    A decision tree provides a comprehensive framework to review the alternative scenarios and consequences a decision may lead to.
  9. Economics

    The Difference Between Finance And Economics

    Finance and economics are often taught as separate subjects, but they are interrelated disciplines that influence one another in many ways.
  10. Economics

    Understanding Tragedy of the Commons

    The tragedy of the commons describes an economic problem in which individuals try to reap the greatest benefits from a given resource.
  1. What’s the difference between the two federal student loan programs (FFEL and Direct)?

    The short answer is that one loan program still exists (Federal Direct Loans) and one was ended by the Health Care and Education ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can working capital be depreciated?

    Working capital as current assets cannot be depreciated the way long-term, fixed assets are. In accounting, depreciation ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do working capital funds expire?

    While working capital funds do not expire, the working capital figure does change over time. This is because it is calculated ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What does high working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    If a company has high working capital, it has more than enough liquid funds to meet its short-term obligations. Working capital, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can working capital affect a company's finances?

    Working capital, or total current assets minus total current liabilities, can affect a company's longer-term investment effectiveness ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  2. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  3. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  4. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  5. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
  6. Indemnity

    Indemnity is compensation for damages or loss. Indemnity in the legal sense may also refer to an exemption from liability ...
Trading Center