Portfolio Manager: Education Requirements and Career Info

Portfolio managers require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Portfolio managers advise businesses and executives on a variety of financial decisions, such as what investments to make. They need a master's degree in a finance-related field and may need licensure depending on what their work involves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts above average job growth through 2024 for financial analysts, including portfolio mangers.

Essential Information

A portfolio manager is a high-level financial analyst who makes executive decisions for a company or client. These managers typically work for portfolio management firms or investment banks; however, they can find employment at a variety of firms. A master's degree and several years' experience as a financial analyst are common prerequisites to becoming a portfolio manager. Some jobs dealing with the transfer of securities require federal licensing, and many portfolio managers seek optional professional certification as well.

Required Education Master's degree in business administration or finance
Licensing Some positions require licensing
Job Growth Projections (2014-2024)* 12% (for all financial analysts)
Median Salary (2015)* $80,310 (for all financial analysts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree is the standard level of education for entry-level financial analyst positions. According to the BLS, employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree in a finance-related field, like accounting, economics, finance or business administration. Courses in advanced math and statistics are also recommended.

A master's degree in business administration or finance also might be required to become a portfolio manager. These programs typically take 2-3 years to complete and include advanced courses on asset management, hedge funds, options pricing and bond valuation.

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Career Information

According to the BLS, entry-level portfolio management positions are typically available at portfolio management firms and investment banks. These novice positions usually take the form of analyst training programs and temporary employment on a project team. Successful candidates can earn a permanent position and more responsibilities. The would-be portfolio manager can also begin his or her career as a financial analyst, working to be promoted to portfolio manager.

The duties of a portfolio manager include supervising a team of financial analysts and creating a financial portfolio for a company or client. Portfolio managers help decide the mix of industries, products and regions in which they invest. Portfolio managers are also expected to lead investor meetings and be able to alter portfolios quickly, reacting to market changes.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

According to the BLS, financial analysts, including portfolio managers, made a median annual salary of $80,310 per year as of 2015. The BLS projects that employment for this group of workers will increase by 12% over the 2014-2024 decade.

Certification and Licensure

Some portfolio managers choose to earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation offered by the CFA Institute. To be eligible for the CFA credential, candidates must have a combination of work experience and formal education. The qualified candidate must also pass three exams that cover a wide variety of topics, including quantitative analysis, professional ethics, risk management and portfolio management basics.

Portfolio managers might be required to obtain a federal license if they deal in the sale of securities. Licensing is done through the employer.

Those who are interested in becoming a portfolio manager should earn a bachelor's degree in a finance related field and gain some work experience. They will likely need to earn a master's degree in order to become a portfolio manager, but business experience is a must. Those wanting to increase their credibility might consider earning the CFA designation through the CFA institute.

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