I Want to Shift Career as a Quant. Can I Do It Even Without a Doctorate Degree?
Quants are the elites of Wall Street. They create statistical models, develop infrastructures around mined data, and then craft strategies to minimize risks and create more trading opportunities.
If you want a career in quantitative trading, you need to take a very deliberate path in getting there.
Do You Need a Ph.D.
The simple answer is no. There used to be a time with trading companies and hedge funds were shutting down doors to applicants without a Ph.D. This is no longer true today. There are plenty of very successful quants who have no doctorate to speak of. They don’t even have a master’s degree, for that matter.
There are other ways to kickstart your career in quantitative trading.
BS degree in mathematics, computer engineering, economics, and related fields -- Of course, you don’t become a quant right away. You will have to earn that privilege the hard way--climb your way to the top. Typically, you start as a data research analyst in a trading company. Other undergraduate programs include statistics, calculus, and computer science.
Get mentorship -- Another way to become well-versed in quantitative trading is to enroll in short courses where you will learn the nuances of the task from an expert mentor. Matthew Owen of Triforce Trader offers one such program. The one-on-one knowledge transfer and practical training would be invaluable to accelerate your learning.
Master’s degree -- You can also pursue a postgraduate degree in finance or financial engineering. If electives are offered, specialize in analytics or machine learning, network programming, probability theory, and coding.
Solid background in programming -- In essence, coding and programming are even more difficult compared to learning the fundamentals of algorithmic trading. If you can master this skill set, it’s easier to transition to quantitative trading. Companies won’t give you a hard time even if you don’t have a financial background. Algo trading companies or buy-side and sell-side companies are more than willing to train you.
Why is it so Difficult to Apply for a Job as a Quant?
The reason why you are made to go through hoops is because of the stakes involved. You will be dealing with millions in investments in stocks and securities. And it doesn’t refer to your entire financial portfolio.
On the upside, the financial reward is the best motivation for why people want a career in quantitative trading. For instance, an entry-level position will earn you a monthly income of at least $125,000. And because they are in high demand, the opportunity for job growth is enormous. If you can prove yourself capable, you will climb up the corporate ladder quickly.
You must soak in the knowledge while you are there. Get some mentor to upgrade your knowledge and skills.
In conclusion, just because you have a Ph.D. doesn’t mean you are going to become a good quant automatically.
You need to have plenty of technical knowledge and skills, proficiency in analyzing and interpreting data, above-average programming skills, intimate knowledge on mathematical and statistical probabilities, and inherent ability on model assumptions. With these skills, you can create a program that will automatically scan across the different venues, forecast impact, and risks, to ensure frictionless trading.