Fintech firms are constantly hiring, and a fintech certificate is one of the best ways to start a new career in the field or to further an existing career.
Fintech is one of the fastest-changing fields in the world right now. A small overview of the space shows China creating its own central bank digital currency (CBDC), PayPal adopting cryptocurrency, sovereign retirement funds investing in Bitcoin, and more. Companies and governments are spending tens of billions of dollars to gain a competitive advantage in this fast-growth sector.
Much of the innovation that’s taking place in fintech is blockchain-enabled. At this time, it’s still uncertain if/how public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum will be integrated into the banking system. However, regardless of their fate, blockchain technology is here to stay. Whether it’s big banks (JP Morgan has a private stablecoin) or a CBDC, blockchain will revolutionize the financial services industry.
- Instant payments to and from anywhere in the world that clear in seconds
- Tokenized securities that trade 24/7
- Automated, decentralized exchanges
- Smart contracts
- Better accounting systems
As the benefits of blockchain become apparent, the demand for fintech professionals will only grow. What’s so exciting about this opportunity is that professionals from all different fields can get involved. The 21st-century fintech revolution is going to require:
- Developers to create new fintech platforms
- Legal teams to interface with government regulators
- Product development to build new financial products and consumer-facing applications
- RegTech to ensure blockchain compliance
- Machine learning specialists in building protocols to analyze big data
- Trading and investment professionals who are familiar with emerging digital assets
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What is a Fintech Certification?
A fintech certification is a course that teaches a specific skill or set of skills within finance and technology. Some courses have a narrow focus and can be completed over a long weekend. Other courses cost thousands of dollars and require hundreds of hours of study. Then there is everything between those two extremes. Fintech certification courses come in all sizes and shapes.
Some fintech courses are specialized for different personnel in the field. There are certification courses available for managers, accountants, backend developers, financial analysts, compliance professionals, and persons with no experience in the industry whatsoever.
Is Fintech a Good Career?
- According to ZipRecruiter, as of March 2021, the average salary for a fintech professional is $113,000 per year
- Unfortunately, the American Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not differentiate between fintech and “traditional” finance occupations. However, the BLS does predict a 5 percent job growth rate for financial analysts, which is higher than the national average job growth
Those are statistics for the United States; however, it’s no longer the case that all the best opportunities are in America. Next-generation blockchain technologies diminish the need to work in a major financial hub since digital assets are not burdened by the limitations of the legacy financial system.
For example, it takes the same amount of time to send a digital token from New York to New Jersey as it does to send a token from New York to Singapore. In a world where assets can move worldwide in seconds, smaller cities within the United States and international cities can compete against the major financial hubs. This is good news for fintech professionals who don’t want to live in New York or London.
Who Offers a Fintech Certification?
For the most part, universities and private organizations offer fintech certification courses. A majority of fintech courses are only available online. The following are a few examples of organizations offering fintech certifications.
- The Wharton School of Business offers a four-week course: Foundations and Applications of Financial Technologies Specialization
- Harvard University has a six-week fintech certification course
- Udacity has a six-month course: Artificial Intelligence for Trading
- The University of Michigan offers four different fintech courses via Coursera
Prospective students should check reviews of a fintech course before taking it. Who is the course provider? Do they have a good reputation?
A course from Harvard might cost more, but the prestige associated with the name may be worth the price. Or not! Every student’s needs will be different, depending on what they hope to get out of a course.
How much does a fintech certification cost?
The six-month Udacity course (listed above) costs $2,000. That might sound like a lot; however, it’s a good deal compared to other options. For example, the Harvard course is six weeks (instead of six months) and costs $3,600.
Louisiana State University (LSU) offers a set of three fintech certification courses for $2,000. The online learning platform Alqami has a Big Data AI & ML in Financial Services course, which can be taken for just $279.
Course prices can vary significantly based on the duration of the course, the course provider, and the amount of teacher-to-student interaction, i.e., graded assignments.
The Benefits of a Fintech Certification Program
One of the key benefits of a certification program is that it’s a way to gain valuable skills and knowledge without completing a four-year university degree. This does not suggest that a fintech certification can replace a college degree.
Most employers require fintech candidates to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, a candidate with a diploma in another field may be able to leverage that degree and a fintech certification to start a new career in the finance industry.
Competition between the dozens (if not hundreds) of different fintech certification course providers means competitive prices. Ideally, a student should be able to recoup the cost of a class as they can command a higher salary with the skills they learn.
Another advantage of a fintech certification course is that they tend to be cutting edge. Due to the economies of scale, it’s possible to take courses taught by industry professionals who share the latest fintech practices.
That’s different from a traditional university, especially a smaller university, which may not hire a professor with current industry knowledge (blockchain experience).
How to Evaluate a Fintech Certification
Given the number of fintech certifications available, choosing the right one is not always easy. The following recommendations may help prospective students to choose the course that’s best for them.
Brand name recognition
Harvard vs. an online learning platform that nobody has heard of? Before a student signs up for a fintech class, they should determine how important the brand recognition of the course provider is.
People seeking their first fintech job may benefit the most from a name-brand fintech course since the course stands out on a resume. Whereas a fintech professional already working in the industry may find that name recognition is unimportant. For this person, the most important factor is their skills.
Theory or practice?
Many college graduates quickly learn that there’s a difference between classroom theory and how things are done in the real world. Ideally, a fintech certification course will teach real-world skills that can be applied immediately.
The easiest way to assess whether this is the case is to read reviews from previous graduates. Do the graduates say that the course provided them with skills that they could apply directly to their work?
Time to completion
How long does the course take to complete? Furthermore, is the length of the class fixed, or is it possible to finish the course at an accelerated rate by studying more hours per week?
Student to teacher interaction
Some fintech certification courses have pre-recorded videos and online exercises designed to teach a skill but are not graded by a teacher. These courses tend to be cheaper, but they lack student-to-teacher interaction.
Other courses have Q&A sessions with the instructor and graded course assignments, and feedback is given. These courses tend to be more expensive.
The correct course for a student will depend on their individual needs. However, it’s important to know what to expect from the class regarding teacher interaction and personal attention.
What’s the price?
Before a student commits to a course, they should compare prices. For some students, the best option could be a platform like Coursera. On Coursera, students pay a flat monthly fee for access to multiple courses.
Online Fintech Certification Programs
For students who are unsure of which type of fintech certification course, to begin with, regulation is a great place to start. Finance is one of the most heavily regulated industries globally, and all fintech professionals need to be aware of how regulation affects their work.
Duke University offers an excellent introductory course: Fintech Law and Policy. Some of the topics in the course include,
- Cryptocurrency legality and regulation
- Why ICOs (initial coin offerings) may be considered securities by the SEC
- Regulations (or lack thereof) surrounding online lending
- The regulatory framework for new payment technologies
- Basic banking regulation in the USA
Everyone who works in fintech can benefit from learning more about the current regulatory environment.
Some fintech certification courses are available for free. For example, the University of Hong Kong doesn’t charge anything for their Introduction to fintech course. This six-week program requires one to three hours of study per week. A few of the course topics include
- Fintech regulation
- Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and big data
- Data security
- New payment technologies
- How blockchain is affecting fintech
While the program is free, students can pay $200 for a verified certificate that proves that they’ve completed the course upon graduation.
Another option for an introductory program is the Fintech Foundation Specialization course. This four-week course offers an introduction to how technology is changing the field of finance, fintech entrepreneurship, and the ongoing digitization of the banking system. The course is led by four instructors, although sixteen different industry experts share their expertise with students.
Advanced Fintech Certification
The London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) offers an advanced postgraduate certificate in fintech. The ten-month course is divided into three modules and features a significant amount of teacher-student interaction in graded assignments, classroom discussions, and exams.
Given the length of the course, students can expect to study multiple topics within the field of fintech. Some of the key areas that students will learn about include,
- New business models for the fintech industry
- A comprehensive overview of the key components of the modern financial system
- Why good governance is important in banking
- Smart contracts and other blockchain specific technologies
- Risk management metrics
- The interconnectedness of the global financial system
- Digital strategies for the next generation of fintech services
Unlike other courses, because the LIBF offers an advanced fintech certification, a student must meet certain qualifications to take the course. Namely, applicants must already have an honors degree and a Chartered Associateship with the LIBF.
Detailed information about this advanced fintech certification course is available in the brochure.
The Future Financial System
Fintech certifications courses offer something for everyone. Job seekers who have no experience in the industry may benefit from a six-month introductory course. Other courses teach advanced skills, and even experienced fintech professionals can learn new skills. That’s especially the case when it comes to blockchain technology.
The next decade will be a story of change from central bank digital currencies to private bank stablecoins to decentralized currencies like Bitcoin. The legacy financial system is overdue for an update, and blockchain will make banking cheaper, more inclusive, and faster. Fintech professionals who can get ahead of this trend will have more employment opportunities and higher salaries, as the finance industry demands their expertise.