IS POSTGRAD FOR YOU?
There is a lot of investment in training within the financial sector because many of the technical skills prized by the industry require training to a very high level. Because of this, financial services employers generally prefer to train in-house, so why, then, should you opt for a postgraduate financial course? Read on to discover why postgraduate study could boost your employability.
Because postgrad study can be so expensive, before you embark on a postgrad degree you should ask yourself ‘will it boost my potential future earnings enough to pay for itself?’ If you think you can move up the career ladder more quickly and earn more by actually being at work rather than studying for at least another year, then this may not be the course for you. However, if you have taken a degree in a subject unrelated to this sector, then a postgraduate degree in finance will help you to build the specialised skills you will need. Alongside these, the more independent way of studying at this level also nurtures and builds on transferable skills such as organising, managing, analytical thinking, and interpersonal skills.
You may wish to gain a specific postgrad qualification such as an MSc Accountancy & Finance because you have decided to pursue a very specialised branch of finance. With the current credit crunch, another reason for considering doing a postgraduate programme is the fact the financial outlook may be a lot brighter when you have finished your course, with competition for jobs in the sector subsequently easing (although competition is always fierce). Finally, it may be you just love number-crunching and the world of finance so much, you want to learn as much as possible in an academic setting before joining the workforce.
Once you’ve decided this is really what you want to do, then you must decide which postgraduate programme is for you. You could opt for a full-time taught Masters, which will usually take a year to complete, although part-time MBA, MSc and MA programmes, taking approximately three years, are now also available. But, what is really important is choosing a course of postgraduate study that actually has some relevance to the career you wish to pursue. This becomes obvious when you look at the hundreds of programmes available; there’s no point in doing a Risk Management MA, if what you really want to do is work in IT, in which case you could opt for a Computer Systems Auditing MSc.
Funding is one of the key issues when considering postgraduate study as fees,
along with living expenses, can run into thousands of pounds. However, the good
news is there are more sources of funding available than you may realise. The
various Research Councils across the UK offer grants and scholarships; various institutions (such as the Royal Society) and charities provide bursaries, scholarships and other awards; you may be able to find an employer who will sponsor you through your postgraduate course; or you could finance yourself by applying for a Career Development Loan. The thing to remember is that competition for funding is extremely
fierce and there are strict eligibility rules, so the key is to apply as early as possible. That said do bear in mind that according to the Association of MBAs in the UK (AMBA), people with a Masters earn an average salary of over £65,000.