Is this a viable path to becoming a FO Quant?

Hello everybody. I am a high school junior researching colleges one thing I noticed is that most target schools for quant trading are either too expensive for me or unattainable. I think I am a very bright kid, I am great at math and CS and I am passionate in both subjects and my test scores/GPA are great, but I do not have extracurriculars that stand out so I am not sure if I can make top schools. Currently, my plan to become a quant is:

  1. Attend a mid-tier (high non-target or low semi-target) school like Rutgers, UMD, or GTech. If I get into something higher, I will attend that, but I am preparing for the worst-case scenario. All three schools that I mentioned are very good in my opinion, but I do not think they have a great presence in FO quant positions. I plan on dual majoring in either math/finance or math/statistics, but I am not sure which gives me a better chance at becoming a quant. I will maintain a good GPA, join clubs, etc.

  2. Network like crazy - join clubs/frats, talk to alumni, networking events, etc. I am trying to find someone who will get my resume looked at. I am confident that I can probably learn the skills to do well in an interview, but getting an interview could be the hard part. I will start this freshman year. I will eat, sleep, and breathe networking.

  3. Learn as much math, CS, and statistics as possible and focus on how they are applied to quant finance. This is kinda self-explanatory. I will also probably do some personal projects/trading strategies on the side. I am great at self-studying and I pick up concepts quickly, and I want to use this to my advantage.

  4. Land internships. Ideally, it would be a quant internship, but realistically it would probably be in data analytics or some kind of other finance internship. I think I should start this sophomore year but I am not sure.

  5. Get a master's at a target school. From what I can tell, having at least a master's is a prerequisite for any FO quant job. I think a MFE would be best.

  6. Get a job as a FO quant.

Are there any issues with my plan? Is there an easier plan? Will my plan even work? Any help/advice is appreciated. Thank you.

Comments (6)

  • Prospect in HF - Other
May 23, 2022 - 2:28am

You can get into quant trading from any solid school as long as you pass the interviews. A lot of companies send assessments to everyone and filter by performance. I don't think you need a master's to be a quant trader, but if you want to get a master's don't get an MFE. You wont learn much. If you are strong in math get an applied math or stats master's degree. It will be more challenging and generally, it looks more favorable to financial firms outside of the big banks (you don't want to be there as a quant anyway). The only benefit of the MFE is that at most programs you get connected to firms in order to land interviews. If you are already networking, then this won't really matter and you'll get the interviews anyway. Networking is extremely important, so make sure you're contacting alumni. 

Just work hard and you'll get what you want. Quant trading is not very prestige driven. Just be a good interviewer, network, get good grades, and make sure you're getting things out of your coursework and you will do just fine.

Most Helpful
May 23, 2022 - 7:49pm
junior2012, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Don't base your whole education (degrees, majors, etc) on trying to get a quant job, it doesn't make any sense. Just learn what you like- as long as its a quantitative major they are all roughly similar. Ex: physics is not the same as biology, but math/statistics/physics/CS the differentiation is not as great as you think. The exception if if you're trying for a super specialized role (ex: a team that exclusively does machine learning, you will probably need to have studied that thoroughly) but these are rarer. You can get quant roles out of undergrad if you are good- if you totally miss the boat there, you work for a while and then try for a masters. Masters are only useful career wise because they provide another opportunity to do on-campus recruiting, there's no sense in doing a masters if you can get in out of undergrad. In reality firms are looking for people that are reasonably quantitative and generally smart- you will learn most of the details you need on the job. Even if you don't get into a front office quant job out of undergrad, if you're a star its not that hard to work your way laterally into a FO quant role, provided you are good. Ex: its not this hedge fund out of undergrad or bust game that many undergrads seem to buy into on this site.

  • 4
May 23, 2022 - 9:59pm
Undercover meme, what's your opinion? Comment below:

RE: Degrees for quant

90% of FO quants can get the job w/o a masters, and the rest are blocked by a PhD barrier (not that its actually needed). For many of the people in my space (FO research quant on the buyside), an undergrad education ~ a masters education, the distinction only really gets drawn at the PhD level.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

  • 2
May 25, 2022 - 8:23am
dimitri.vulis, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm somewhat skeptical of people without PhDs (even with MFEs) who want to be quants.

If you have a PhD from a good program, then it matters little where you got your undergraduate degree.

School is a good opportunity to learn not only the requisite math/statistics/comp sci, but also the product; and to get to know people who can help you. Having internships or part-time engagements where you learn something useful may help. Keep in mind that there's a lot that your professors and staff tasked ith advisements don't know or are wrong about.

  • Prospect in HF - Other
May 25, 2022 - 11:41am

It's worth noting that quant is used very loosely these days. Most "quants" today are tech savvy traders. They know python and basic stats/ML and can maybe code in C++ but not really. The hardcore pricing and signal research quant roles definitely require a PhD.

May 25, 2022 - 12:18pm
dimitri.vulis, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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