How to Get Your First Job in Finance (Without a Degree)

Posted by: Mia Lewis Post Date: 17th November 2016

Many people believe that to get your first finance role, a degree is absolutely essential (alongside a well-fitted suit). However, these days there are options in place to get your career up and running that don’t involve going to university, where you can earn while you learn (and get all the suits you need!)

For an apprenticeship, the highest necessary requirements are GCSEs – meaning no experience or degree is necessary. The apprenticeship will also give you a chance to start qualifications that are truly valuable for professionals within the industry – even for those who already have degrees!

Lets take a look at the pathways within the finance industry that are available through apprenticeships.


Apprenticeships are enjoying a massively increasing profile within insurance companies, including household names like Direct Line and NFU Mutual. The on-the-job training you will receive is a good opportunity to become fluent with industry-specific terms, and get the practical skills you need while earning a wage.

On this apprenticeship, you will gain a CII Award in Insurance – a crucial and prestigious qualification within the insurance industry. Mostly, this role will involve settling insurance claims, and speaking to the public using your newly-learned background knowledge of insurance.

Jumping straight into the workplace sounds scary, but a qualification with CII (the Chartered Institute of Insurance) will get you up to speed quickly, as they are the world’s largest professional body for financial services, with over 120,000 members in more than 150 countries. We are currently the UK’s largest deliverer of CII apprenticeships, meaning you can trust in our advice and guidance to support you through it!


Accounting has a reputation for being heavy on the maths and ‘boring’, but there is a reason why the UK has nearly 280,000 professionally qualified accountants. Not all of them started out with a degree either! A role in accounting could also mean you have a direct impact on how a business functions.

To start, you will need an AAT (Association of Accounting Technician’squalification. AAT is an internationally-recognised qualification, designed to educate you from from the very foundations of accounting to the most complex accountancy topics. Even those who have completed a degree find themselves looking for the hands-on experience of an accounting apprenticeship and AAT qualification!

You can start your AAT qualifications by distance-learning or via an apprenticeship, where you will also gain practical experience within a finance department, or even an accountancy firm. Eventually, you could choose to progress onto a full AAT membership, earning a salary over £29,925, and be well on your way to continuing your chartered studies, or even starting your own accounting practice.

Would an apprenticeship in finance be right for you?

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Financial Admin

If you’re looking to take on a more administration-based role, you can get a step into the finance industry through financial admin apprenticeships. In this role, you will not only gain a flexible skillset common in administration roles, but you’ll learn all about what happens behind the scenes in the financial services industry.

This role will test your customer service and sales skills by supporting new customers, and you will write up reports on the company’s finances, building your analysis skills, while also helping the company to run smoothly.

At level 2 on this apprenticeship, you will achieve a CII award in Financial Administration, and a level 2 Certificate in Customer Service. As you progress, your qualifications will increase in depth, with more complex finance tasks.

Mortgage Advice

A career as a mortgage advisor is actually very rewarding – you will be assisting people through some of the biggest changes of their lives: buying a new home.

That means that you will confidently explain complex terms and issues with clarity – so it’s essential that you know your stuff! An apprenticeship as a mortgage advisor and a Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice (CeMAP) is what you will need to get started in the role, and gain the right knowledge with a qualification recognised by employers and clients alike.

For a more thorough insight into the qualifications needed and what a mortgage role involves, check out this webinar with financial services specialist Steven Haynes on the subject ‘How to Become a Mortgage Advisor’.

If you’re ready to start a career in finance through the apprenticeship route, click below.

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