How to Become a Quant?

These people measure, study and evaluate statistics, finance, mathematics, and other things to generate algorithms and models.

Author: Kevin Henderson
Kevin Henderson
Kevin Henderson
Private Equity | Corporate Finance

Kevin is currently the Head of Execution and a Vice President at Ion Pacific, a merchant bank and asset manager based Hong Kong that invests in the technology sector globally. Prior to joining Ion Pacific, Kevin was a Vice President at Accordion Partners, a consulting firm that works with management teams at portfolio companies of leading private equity firms.

Previously, he was an Associate in the Power, Energy, and Infrastructure Investment Banking group at Lazard in New York where he completed numerous M&A transactions and advised corporate clients on a range of financial and strategic issues. Kevin began his career in corporate finance roles at Enbridge Inc. in Canada. During his time at Enbridge Kevin worked across the finance function gaining experience in treasury, corporate planning, and investor relations.

Kevin holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen's University and is a CFA Charterholder.

Reviewed By: Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Elliot Meade
Private Equity | Investment Banking

Elliot currently works as a Private Equity Associate at Greenridge Investment Partners, a middle market fund based in Austin, TX. He was previously an Analyst in Piper Jaffray's Leveraged Finance group, working across all industry verticals on LBOs, acquisition financings, refinancings, and recapitalizations. Prior to Piper Jaffray, he spent 2 years at Citi in the Leveraged Finance Credit Portfolio group focused on origination and ongoing credit monitoring of outstanding loans and was also a member of the Columbia recruiting committee for the Investment Banking Division for incoming summer and full-time analysts.

Elliot has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Columbia University.

Last Updated:November 16, 2023

How to Become a Quant?

A quantitative analyst, sometimes referred to as a quant, studies, measures, and evaluates mathematics, statistics, and economics. Then, they use the information they study to develop, design, and implement algorithms and mathematical and statistical models.

Becoming a Quant is no easy task; you have to be disciplined and dedicated to the career if you want it. They use mathematical and statistical skills that may take a while for one to master. You must understand that you will have long days and nights in this career. 

These analysts are in charge of creating models and algorithms to help their firms become more profitable and take on less risk. They also make valuations of other companies by analyzing financial data. 

Some necessary soft skills are time management, the Microsoft platform, and verbal and written communication. Some technical skills are database management and computer programming, as a bare minimum.

What is a Quantitative Analyst?

These are people who measure, study and evaluate statistics, finance, mathematics, and various other things to generate algorithms and models. The models and algorithms help make business and financial decisions.

They also study the behavior of the market and the behavior of the people participating in the market. Depending on the task, they can do many different things, but overall, they produce financial, mathematical, and statistical models for intricate financial plans or systems. 

Some models they might create are used for deciding when to take a securities trade or get out of one. Their models also help determine the risk one trade or investment might bring the company. 

Many businesses use quants, including hedge funds, investment banks, commercial banks, wealth management firms, and insurance companies. 

Most quantitative analysts start their roles as entry-level research analysts and work their way up after they gain knowledge and respect as they accept more responsibility. The skills required for these positions take lots of time to develop, and the process can take many years.

Many quantitative analysts have a complex variety of experiences and education through formal education and self-education. However, they can also be proven valuable candidates by forming their models and proving them correct and beneficial. 

Quantitative analysts make more than just models. They also perform trading and investing strategies tests, advance the signals used to evaluate trades, and even program and implement new trading strategies. These are everyday activities for quants.

Skills Required for a Quantitative Analyst

They need skills that are imperative to doing their jobs, such as:

  • Database management skills
  • Computer programming
  • Developing mathematical and statistical models
  • Understand language that is used in the financial fields

An example of a programming system that a quant may need to know is how to operate efficiently in Python. Python is a high-level, broad-purpose programming language. It has high-level data structures along with dynamic typing and dynamic binding. 

Database management skills include interpreting patterns and understanding design concepts. Being able to interpret the outputs to plan for short-term and long-term database projects is a key skill necessary to become an analyst. 

Developing mathematical and statistical models includes a deep knowledge of linear algebra, calculus, and statistics. Although one may be able to create this model with just their underlying knowledge, one also needs to know how to read them. 

Another technical skill needed is probability theory; this entails interpreting the probability of specific outcomes. This is a complex branch of mathematics that is usually analyzed through axioms. This also includes testing random data as well. 

They also need to have a strong background in machine learning. This skill in your tool belt will open many doors for careers. Having “big data” skills and experience can help transition you into a new, challenging but rewarding career. 

Analysts have needed to know this information for quite some time now, so you will not stick out in a big way with just having this experience, but you certainly cannot move forward without it. 

These skills are necessary when you are trying to become a quant analyst. Although knowing the information will only get you so far, you need to have a deep understanding of it and be able to communicate the information. 

Some soft skills to become a quant analyst include having excellent verbal and written communication skills. For example, if you cannot take your thoughts and express them to someone in a clear manner that they can understand, then you should consider working on that. 

Another soft skill you need is to document and present information via Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint

Quantitative Analyst Education Requirements

If you are considering a long career as a quant analyst, you will likely need a graduate degree. Types of degree that one should consider if looking to become a quant analyst is something in finance, mathematics, statistics, and engineering. 

The list of degrees above must be more than just flown through. These majors contain rigorous courses that are highly competitive at most schools. Moreover, it is also a good representation of what the careers will be like; grueling and competitive. 

Although a graduate degree is optimal, they are optional when seeking a quant analyst job. Some positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for a research analyst, and you can work your way up the ladder from that position, along with more education. 

Furthering your education past a bachelor’s is not a requirement, but it does help. After obtaining your bachelor's, you should strongly consider following that degree up with a master's in quantitative finance, mathematical finance, statistical finance, or financial engineering

These graduate degrees will help you land quantitative internships and jobs quicker; moreover, these degrees will help you continue higher in your career path. These programs help with practice in management and being a good leader of a team as well. 

Some may think getting your masters in business administration will help you become a first-round pick to become a quant. However, this is certainly only the case if you have a plethora of experience in mathematical analysis and computational skills. 

If you do not have this experience, you should move to graduate school and obtain a master's in finance, mathematics, statistics, or computer engineering. 

Quantitative Analyst Needed Experience

As an aspiring quant analyst, it is a necessity to start working on making connections as early as you can. Obtaining internships as a quant analyst is difficult; it takes time and patience. 

Bachelor students should strive to have a summer internship their junior summer. A difficult part of obtaining an internship is that you need financial experience to be considered for an internship. One way you can do this is by taking computer science or finance-related courses. 

Here at Wall Street Oasis, we offer a multitude of modeling, valuation, Microsoft office training, python fundamentals training, and more. These courses contain information and exercises to help you learn the fundamentals of various finance purposes.

Join over 900,000 students, and learn from professionals in our information-loaded courses

As a quant analyst intern, you will be helping solve companies' financial problems. You might also be observing the climate of the financials by looking at the financial statements for the company. 

Multiple computer skills are necessary, given that you will work on a computer throughout your internship. Interns will also need to know how to navigate effectively and efficiently through the computer and its applications. 

Interns will also find themselves analyzing data and developing and implementing models. These models show the scenario and outcome of financial decisions that can or should be made by companies or investors for new trading and investing strategies. 

All the mathematical, statistical, and computer skills play into these internships and are vital to any intern’s success. That said, you will have a higher probability of getting a quant analyst internship by showing you have experience in the field. 

After completing an internship, interns might be offered a job if they prove to be an asset to the team. Although internships are not the end all be all, they are accommodating, and getting a job as a quant analyst is challenging without them. 

One way around the quant analyst internship is to start at an entry-level position as a research analyst. However, these positions also call for heavy experience, and experience comes from internships and courses that prove you are worthy of the desired position. 

Quantitative Analyst Responsibilities

They use mathematical, statistical, and computer programming software to develop financial models to help companies evaluate their financials. They also help develop and implement models and algorithms that help traders be more successful. 

Analysts develop trading algorithms on the buy-side of securities to make trading quicker, more profitable, and less risky. As technology advances, there is a much greater need for quant analysts. 

These analysts are responsible for creating new algorithms for more significant profits with less risk. Unfortunately, these models and algorithms are extremely complex and challenging to develop. They take lots of time to develop and require historical data to create. 

The best quant analyst helps their companies make loads of money by creating these simple and complex algorithms that offer buy and sell signals and illuminate the amount of risk in trades. 

On the sell-side of securities, these analysts are responsible for valuing securities. Sell-side quants also work more on the institutions that create and sell securities to the general public. Banks and consulting firms are usually the companies that hire sell-side analysts. 

Sell-side quant analysts lean more towards mathematical field professionals such as mathematicians and physicists. In contrast, buy-side analysts deal with more computer sciences, actuarial science, and electronic engineering and programming. 

Quantitative Analyst Mean Salary and Demand

These analysts are well paid for the services that they provide for their companies. They work hard and create complex models, but the hours are less grueling than in finance careers, such as investment bankers. These analysts, on average, work about 60 hours per week. 

  • The average entry-level analyst is about $78,700 a year. As a quant analyst, you can also expect a bonus of about five percent of your salary, on average, as an entry-level analyst. You can expect to make $82,635 a year. 
  • The average analyst who has been on the job for several years may see an increase in pay to an average salary between $90,000 and $115,000 a year. A very substantial percentage of analysts also said they receive bonuses. 

An analyst with a few years of experience can expect an average salary with bonuses between $94,500 and $120,750 yearly. 

  • Senior-level analysts are paid very well for their knowledge and expertise. The average salary is between $108,000 and $140,480 a year. That means an average bonus of five percent. So they could be all in at a salary between $113,400 and $147,504. 

Although these are just average salaries, an outstanding analyst who provides great value to their companies could see much higher salaries. 

There is a promising outlook for a career in quant analysis. This is because companies and financial firms rely more on technology, models, and algorithms to help tell them what to do. 

Trading firms rely increasingly on algorithms that tell them when to buy and sell their stocks because it takes all of the emotion of the game, and they can execute the trade without thinking about it. 

What Do You Need to Do to be a Quantitative Analyst?

In general, becoming an analyst can be very challenging and a long road, but it is also a very rewarding career. A bachelor's degree is optional, but most financial institutions will only accept people with a bachelor's.

During your time as an undergraduate student, you should be obtaining a junior summer internship as an analyst intern. They might offer you a job starting the following summer if you perform well enough. 

Making connections with people is very important, and you should talk to everyone you know in finance to try and help you out. It is all about whom you know and who knows you. Making connections can take significant time and energy, but it is well worth the effort.

After completing your internship and having a few years as an analyst, consider returning to graduate or even doctorate school to get another degree in mathematics, statistics, or computer sciences. 

Doing this will help you progress in your career and become a strong senior analyst in your firm. A senior analyst can progress into portfolio manager and hedge fund manager positions. The route to becoming a quant analyst is long but well worth it.

Researched and authored by Adam Bridges 

Free Resources

To continue learning and advancing your career, check out these additional helpful WSO resources: