Where do you want to work?
A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level jobs, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is useful for advancement.Education
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents generally must have a bachelor’s degree to get an entry-level job. Studies in business, finance, accounting, or economics are important, especially for larger firms. Many firms hire summer interns before their last year of college, and those who are most successful are offered full-time jobs after they graduate.
Numerous agents eventually get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), which is often a requirement for high-level positions in the securities industry. Because the MBA exposes students to real-world business practices, it can be a major asset for jobseekers. Employers often reward MBA holders with higher level positions, better compensation, and large signing bonuses.Training
Most employers provide intensive on-the-job training, teaching employees the specifics of the job, such as the products and services offered. Trainees in large firms may receive technical instruction in securities analysis and selling strategies. Firms often rotate their trainees among various departments to give them a broad understanding of the securities business.
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must keep up with new products and services and other developments. They attend conferences and training seminars regularly.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Brokers and investment bankers must register as representatives of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). To obtain the license, potential agents must pass a series of exams.
Many other licenses are available, each of which gives the holder the right to sell different investment products and services. Traders and some other sales representatives also need licenses, although these vary by firm and specialization. Financial services sales agents may need to be licensed, especially if they sell securities or insurance. Most firms offer training to help their employees pass the licensing exams.
Agents who are registered with FINRA must attend continuing education classes to keep their licenses. Courses consist of computer-based training on legal requirements or new financial products or services.
Although not always required, certification enhances professional standing and is recommended by employers. Brokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents can earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, sponsored by the CFA Institute. To qualify for this certification, applicants need a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of related work experience and must pass three exams, which require several hundred hours of independent study. Applicants also must have an international passport. Exams cover subjects in accounting, economics, securities analysis, financial markets and instruments, corporate finance, asset valuation, and portfolio management. Applicants can take the exams while they are getting the required work experience.Advancement
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents usually advance to senior positions in a firm by accumulating a greater number of accounts. Although beginners often service the accounts of individual investors, they may eventually service large institutional accounts, such as those of banks and retirement funds.
After taking a series of tests, some brokers become portfolio managers and have greater authority to make investment decisions regarding an account. For more information on portfolio managers, see the profile on financial analysts.
Some experienced sales agents become branch office managers and supervise other sales agents while continuing to provide services for their own clients. A few agents advance to top management positions or become partners in their firms.
Many investment banks use an “up or out” policy, in which entry-level investment bankers are either promoted or terminated after 2 or 3 years. Investment banks use this policy to ensure that entry-level positions are not occupied long term, allowing the bank to bring in new workers.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. To judge the profitability of potential deals, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must have strong analytical skills. This includes computer programming skills which they use to analyze financial products.
Customer-service skills. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must be persuasive and make clients feel comfortable with the agent’s recommendations.
Decisionmaking skills. Investment banking traders must make split-second decisions, with large sums of money at stake.
Detail oriented. Investment bankers must pay close attention to the details of initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions because small changes can have large consequences.
Initiative. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents must create their own client base by making “cold” sales calls to people to whom they have not been referred and to people not expecting the call.
Math skills. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents need to be familiar with mathematical tools, including investment formulas.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Options Trader
Top Careers After Options Trader
Hispanic or Latino7.0%
Black or African American0.5%
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University of Chicago12.2%
New York University6.5%
University of Iowa5.7%
Carnegie Mellon University5.7%
Loyola University of Chicago4.9%
University of Colorado at Boulder4.9%
University of Notre Dame4.9%
Illinois State University4.1%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign4.1%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology4.1%
University of Central Florida3.3%
University of Illinois at Chicago3.3%
Michigan State University3.3%
Pace University - New York3.3%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Oil Options Trader||Mercuria Energy America, Inc.||Greenwich, CT||Sep 01, 2014||$300,000|
|Director, Trader/FX Options||UBS AG||New York, NY||Jul 23, 2015||$216,000 -
|Director, Trader/FX Options||UBS Securities LLC||New York, NY||Mar 08, 2016||$206,500 -
|Director, Options Trader||UBS Securities LLC||New York, NY||Jun 20, 2016||$206,500 -
|FX Options Trader||HSBC Bank USA, N.A.||New York, NY||Jun 01, 2016||$201,510|
|Senior Interest Rate Options Trader||SG Americas Securities, LLC||New York, NY||Oct 05, 2016||$201,510|
|Senior Euro FX Options Trader||RBS Securities Inc.||Stamford, CT||Jun 16, 2013||$200,000|
|Options Trader||Hess Energy Trading Company, LLC||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2010||$200,000|
|Director, FX Options Trader||Unicredit Bank AG||New York, NY||Aug 19, 2013||$195,000 -
|Vice President, FX Options Trader||Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited||New York, NY||Feb 25, 2015||$180,000|
|Vice President, Equity Index Options Trader||RBC Capital Markets, LLC||New York, NY||Sep 08, 2015||$175,000|
|Options Trader||BP America Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 01, 2010||$175,000|
|Senior FX Options Trader||Hap Trading, LLC||New York, NY||Apr 25, 2011||$165,000|
|Vice President, Equity Index Options Trader||RBC Capital Markets, LLC||New York, NY||Apr 21, 2015||$155,834|
|FX Options Trader||Royal Bank of Canada||New York, NY||Jul 29, 2013||$150,000|
|Options Trader||Harry Capital LLC||New York, NY||Sep 01, 2009||$150,000|
|Interest Rates Options Trader||SG Americas Securities, LLC||New York, NY||Sep 10, 2015||$150,000|
|Options Trader||Canaccord Genuity Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 16, 2015||$150,000|
|Options Trader||Bbl Commodities LP||New York, NY||Sep 30, 2014||$150,000|
|Director, EM FX Options Trader||UBS Securities LLC||Stamford, CT||Oct 13, 2010||$138,528 -
|Director, EM FX Options Trader||UBS Securities LLC||Stamford, NY||Oct 12, 2010||$138,528 -
|Trader, Interest Rate Options||Commonwealth Bank of Australia||New York, NY||Aug 20, 2013||$125,000|
|Currency Options Trader||RBS Securities Inc.||Stamford, CT||Jan 09, 2016||$125,000|
|Vp/Jr. Options Trader & Options Trading Analyst||SMBC Capital Markets, Inc.||New York, NY||Jun 22, 2010||$125,000|
|Associate Director, Interest Rate Options Trader||UBS Securities LLC||Stamford, CT||Sep 07, 2013||$122,000 -
|Calendar Spread Options and ARB Options Trader||DRW Holdings, LLC.||New York, NY||Nov 19, 2014||$110,000 -
|Calendar Spread Options and ARB Options Trader||DRW Holdings, LLC||New York, NY||Mar 27, 2014||$106,704 -
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