How to become a trader: studies and degrees |

How to become a trader: studies and degrees

The trading profession is often fantasized about, with a searing and sulphurous image conveyed by both movies and the media. Reality is quite different.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Above and beyond the essentials already mentioned of a degree in accounting, economics, mathematics, business or finance a post-grad masters or MBA is preferable if you want to be considered for advanced positions within the company.

As important as the academic qualifications are the all-important personal traits and characteristics - you must have first rate communication skills to supplement your strong mathematical and IT skills. You need to have the ability to understand and quickly analyse complex information, to remain calm under pressure, to have attention to detail, good risk analysis combined with a good decision-making ability, to be able to work as part of a team as well as on your own when required and be 100% honest and trustworthy.

If you are confident with your in-depth knowledge of general economics and the related financial markets whilst also possessing an analytical mind with a strong competitive drive, plenty of self-motivation and lots of initiative, and a good alarm clock, then maybe – just maybe – working for a professional trading firm is the job for you.

Alternatively that leaves the option of working outside of the corporate ladder, working for yourself as a day trader. This is a world where, allegedly, all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities regardless of their education and experience – in theory.

In practice, you still need a very similar education and skills set to that of a corporate trader in order to succeed – success will only be achieved if you have the ability to perform. Without this you will be met with a lot of failure, loss of capital and the high probability of never becoming profitable.

Ps. I can’t close without mentioning that there are some, what I call at best unscrupulous, organisations out there offering what they term a fully professional online course over twelve weeks aimed at "Individuals intending to develop their career in a professional trading environment" and for "Individuals seeking a Career in Big Financial Organisations".

These courses cost several thousand pounds and, if the candidate is successful, then provide a ‘degree’ from an obscure USA university – not bad for just twelve weeks online :wink: although I’m not quite sure what the calibre of employer would be to consider it an honourable and worthy achievement - caveat emptor!