Do you Need a Degree to Work at a Bank | Regenesys

Awaken Your Potential

By submitting this form, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg – or in this case, for anyone who is looking for a career in banking – work experience or a business qualification?

With college costs rising the world over, and student debt with them, many question the usefulness of a business qualification to secure a bank job

So what to do – get a business qualification, or look for a job so you can earn and gain work experience in an organisation where you can grow organically? 


  • The premium on business qualifications
  • Keeping up with changing trends in banking
  • What it takes to satisfy customers
  • Job opportunities that flow from business school qualifications
  • The top dogs don’t stop after the first business degree
  • Start with a Higher Certificate in Business Management

The premium on business qualifications

The question boils down to whether banks value a business certificate over real-world experience, or prefer real world-experience in order to improve customer experience and engagement. 

Research shows that most banks are willing to pay a premium of 10%-30% on starting salaries for recruits who have business qualifications.

Financial literacy – understanding the time value of money and return on investment – is necessary to assist bank customers. However, experience gained in a bank provides a perspective of customers’ expectations. 

On the other hand, people tend to take you more seriously if you have a business degree or qualification. Many banks appreciate work experience but will ignore your resume if you do not have a business qualification. They also want you to be able to solve problems, and to be empathetic to customers. And pursuing a business qualification also gives you an opportunity to network with peers in class, which can help in landing a job and succeeding in it due to the unique perspectives shared in class. 

Keeping up with changing trends in banking

South Africa’s financial sector has made marked improvements in getting people to open bank accounts, with more than 40-million people now holding accounts – up 30 percentage points from 54% of the population in 2011 to 84% in 2021 (Claassen, 2022). Many of these are mobile money accounts, following a pattern similar to those observed in Brazil, Ghana and Morocco.

Boston Consulting Group’s MD, Tijsbert Creemer, in a report published with Discovery Bank CEO Hylton Kallner (2022), predicts that banking in South Africa will be “fully digital by 2027 if banks provide easy-to-use, secure channels supported by accessible human assistance”. He cites the example of Tyme Bank, which serves mostly low-income earners through its traditional banking business model, but which has a smaller cost base than traditional banks thanks to the efficiencies afforded by digital technology.

business school

What it takes to satisfy customers

Separately, South Africa’s banking sector is the economic segment with the most satisfied customers in the country (Consulta, 2020). This should not be surprising, given players’ enormous investments in customer service analytics and the highly competitive nature of the sector.

With the combination of data analytics, digitised services, and personalised marketing already available to banks, the day is coming when a customer will be able to conduct every bank service imaginable – from opening an account to managing personal finances or finalising a home loan – with just a few taps or a voice command on a mobile app.

To continue along this trajectory, banks need staff who understand business and who have qualifications in specialisations ranging from information and communication technology to customer service and data science,  along with the ability to solve problems for customers at every touchpoint.

Job opportunities that flow from business school qualifications

Job opportunities that unfold for you after completing a business school qualification, coupled with experience, include bank manager, business analyst, business development manager, customer service manager, and digital marketer, to name a few. 

And besides opening doors for recruits interested in corporate, investment and other forms of banking, banks – as institutions – also need qualified marketers, compliance officers, risk specialists, data engineers, people who can manage finance, innovate, deliver sustainable value, and much more.

Those who get to the top don’t stop after the first business degree

So while you don’t have to have an academic degree to land a bank job, it certainly helps. 

Just ask Absa group CEO Arrie Rautenbach (BBA, AMP, MBA), Nedbank CEO Mike Brown (BCom, DipAcc, CA (SA), CD (SA), AMP), Standard Bank group CEO Sim Tshabalala (BA, LLB, LLM, AMP), Investec CEO Fani Titi (BSc, BSc Hons, MA, MBA), and FirstRand CEO Jacques Celliers (BEng, MBA).

Start with a Higher Certificate in Business Management

Looking for somewhere to start? Learn more about Regenesys Business School’s Higher Certificate in Business Management, which incidentally incorporates ICT as an elective – as well as its specialised Higher Certificate in Business Management – Credit Banking. Both are relatively short courses, completed in a year.


Please rate this article

4.7 / 5. 3


PhD, MBA, BSc Academic Head and Multicountry Manager Regenesys Business School

Write A Comment