Career Definition of a Quantitative Analyst
Quantitative analysts work with teams of mathematicians, engineers and physicists to develop optimal systematic strategies for trading stock. They write programs, conduct research, perform daily statistical analysis and solve problems to optimize trading strategies.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree required; master's or doctoral degree may be required for some positions|
|Job Skills||Strong understanding of math and statistics; knowledge of calculus, engineering and game theory; programming skills; experience modeling with data; and good problem-solving ability|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$84,300 (financial analysts)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||11% (all financial analysts)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Many firms have just a few openings for quantitative analysts, and the application process can be highly competitive. Top employers may only be interested in candidates who hold a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in math, statistics, engineering or a related field. A typical course load for a student pursuing a degree in quantitative analysis might include topics in matrix methodology, linear algebra and statistics. Aspiring professionals also learn about simulation modeling, optimization analysis and probability.
In general, quantitative analysts use their mathematical and statistical skills to detect market changes. Advanced knowledge of calculus, engineering and game theory is key; programming skills are essential, particularly in C++. A strong background in modeling with large amounts of data is also mandatory. On a day-to-day basis, quantitative analysts should also be able to analyze trading performance and provide solutions to problems.
Career and Salary Outlook
Financial rewards for quantitative analysts depend on the level and quality of education. School and program rank may help future graduates advance in the field. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report employment information specific to quantitative analysts, it has projected an 11%, or faster-than-average, increase in jobs for financial analysts in general from 2016 to 2026. Financial analysts earned a median salary of $84,300 in 2017.
Alternate Career Options
Careers that also use the skills required in being a quantitative analyst include:
Actuaries use their knowledge of finance and mathematics to determine how likely it is that a particular event might occur and are usually employed by insurance companies or technical services, among other organizations. Relevant undergraduate majors may include actuarial science, math or statistics; courses in accounting, business and calculus may be key when it comes to pursuing professional certifications. The BLS reports that actuarial opportunities are expected to grow by 22% nationwide between 2016 and 2026, or much faster than average when compared to all other occupations. In May 2017, the median annual salary for an actuary was $101,560, according to the BLS.
According to the BLS, approximately 1,000 mathematicians were working for the federal government in 2017, with the remainder employed in research and development, education, management and architecture/engineering. In general, their focus is on the application of complex mathematical principles to data analysis and problem-solving activities. While the federal government may consider applicants who have completed undergraduate courses or a bachelor's degree in mathematics, most private companies prefer candidates with a master's or Ph.D. in the subject. Nationwide, opportunities for employment are expected to grow by 30%, or much faster than average, through 2016-2026, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2017, the median annual salary for a mathematician was $103,010.