Stock Market Trader: Job Description & Career Information

Learn about the tasks a stock market trader performs. Explore education and licensing requirements in addition to employment outlook and salary to help you make the correct career decision.

Career Definition of a Stock Market Trader

Stock market traders are a specialization within the securities, commodities and financial services industry. These professionals most frequently work for brokerage houses, investment companies, retirement funds and other financial organizations. Common duties of stock market traders include communicating with stock brokers, placing buy and sell orders, trading stocks on electronic networks and completing required paperwork.

Education Bachelor's degree in finance or business, plus licensing
Job Skills Focused, analytical, quick-thinking, and able to communicate
Median Salary (2018)* $64,120 (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% growth (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The minimum credential to work in stock market trading is a bachelor's degree in a field like finance or business, although many in the field obtain master's level degrees. Common courses in a relevant 4-year bachelor's program include corporate finance, business economics, the global economy, investment management, international markets, banking and securities. Depending on your exact role and job duties, you may also need to obtain one or several licenses, including the Series 7, Series 63 or Series 66 license; earning these licenses requires classroom work and passing an examination.

Skills Required

Stock market traders must thrive in stressful environments. As a result, they must be able to think and act quickly and be adaptable and focused. Strong analytical, communication and interpersonal skills are also important for a successful career as a stock market trader.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for securities, commodities and financial services sales agents, including stock market traders, is as fast as average; data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employment in this field will grow by 6% from 2016 to 2026. Competition in the industry will be stiff because many applicants are drawn to the field's high salaries. According to the BLS, as of May 2018 securities or commodities and financial services sales agents earned a median annual wage of $64,120.

Alternative Careers

Other potential careers in this field include:

Financial Analyst

For those who want a job studying the performance of stocks and researching companies, consider becoming a financial analyst. These financial professionals determine what type of investments their clients will need, and then prepare a recommendation based on extensive research of economic trends, company performance and rates of return.

To enter this profession, a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, statistics, economics or a related field is required, and a master's degree may be necessary for more complex jobs. Licensure through a series of examinations is also required for many jobs in the financial industry, and employers often sponsor workers in this pursuit after hire. An 11% increase in jobs for financial analysts is expected during the 2016-2026 decade, according to BLS predictions, and it also reported that analysts earned a median income of $85,660 in 2018.

Personal Financial Advisor

If helping clients plan their financial futures by choosing wise investments sounds interesting, a career in financial advising may be a good fit. Personal financial advisors analyze client goals, explain the benefits and risks of certain investments, present financial options, help clients set up accounts and monitor results to assess if modifications need to be made.

Employment in this occupation usually requires a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, math or a related field. A professional license may also be required and depends on what products are being bought or sold. In May of 2018, the BLS stated that personal financial advisors received median yearly compensation of $88,890. This field is projected to grow 15% from 2016-2026, based on data from the BLS.


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