Become a Securities Trader: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a securities trader. Research the job description, along with the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in securities trading.

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Should I Be a Securities Trader?

Securities traders serve as an intermediary between buyers and sellers within the financial investment marketplace. Job duties include purchasing and selling various forms of securities that may include commodities as well as stocks and bonds. Securities traders keep a vigilant watch on the financial market and advise their clients when the time is right to buy, trade, or sell.

Many securities traders work long hours and have to deal with a significant amount of stress. However, because their earnings are often linked to commissions they earn, the stress of handling other people's hard-earned money may be worthwhile.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's; master's
Degree Field Business, financing, accounting, economics; Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Key Skills Critical thinking, initiative, detail-oriented, decision-making skills, mathematics, customer service skills, proficiency with computer technology used in this field
Median Salary (2015)* $71,550 (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online, CareerOneStop

Steps to Be a Securities Trader

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Securities traders generally hold a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business. Undergraduate students who major in finance take courses in areas such as macroeconomic analysis, investment theory, business forecasting, data mining, mergers and acquisitions, security analysis, and international finance.

To increase your chances of success, complete an internship program. College students who want to be securities traders can look for an internship program with a securities firm. Internships are generally served in the last semester before graduation. An internship is a good way to gain hands-on experience. Some firms may even offer full-time jobs to interns who perform well.

Step 2: Apply for an Entry-Level Position

Professional experience in a securities firm allows prospective applicants the chance to demonstrate teamwork, a strong work ethic, and communication skills required for successful careers in securities trading. Securities traders often receive training assistance from their employers in preparation for successfully passing the required examinations to become licensed.

Step 3: Become Licensed

According to the BLS, securities traders are required to be registered as a representative of their respective firms with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Continuing education is a requirement for maintaining a license.

Step 4: Seek Certification

The BLS also reports that many employers look for securities traders with professional certification. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute is a professional organization that offers the CFA designation. To become a CFA, a candidate must take a self-study course equivalent to a graduate program. Candidates take a series of three examinations that must be passed sequentially.

Step 5: Earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) for Career Advancement

According to the BLS, applicants who hold a master's degree are often hired into higher-level positions and often earn more than those who have only bachelor's degrees. An MBA program typically takes one to two years to complete. MBA programs offer training for a career in business leadership.

Securities traders have bachelor's and master's degrees. They are ambitious with strong skills in decision-making, mathematics, and customer service, and they earn a median annual salary of $71,550.

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