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Become A Trader

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Working As A Trader

  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $240,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Trader Do

A Trader is a person who buys and sells goods, currency, or stocks. They work for financial houses, investment banks, exchanges like ICE Futures Europe, or treasury departments of major companies.

How To Become A Trader

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level jobs, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is useful for advancement.


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.


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.


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.

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Trader Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Russian

  • Chinese

  • Mandarin

  • Portuguese

  • German

  • Korean

  • Japanese

  • Italian

  • Arabic

  • Cantonese

  • Hindi

  • Dutch

  • Hebrew

  • Hungarian

  • Thai

  • Bulgarian

  • Ukrainian

  • Armenian

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Trader Education


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Real Trader Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Macro Trader Soros Fund Management, LLC New York, NY Nov 29, 2016 $400,000
European Trader Balyasny Asset Management, L.P. New York, NY Apr 07, 2015 $340,000
Trader-Gasoline Lukoil Pan Americas, LLC. New York, NY Sep 15, 2015 $330,000
Execution Trader Arrowgrass Capital Partners (Us) LP New York, NY Apr 26, 2016 $315,000
Naphtha Trader SK Energy Americas Inc. Houston, TX Jul 12, 2015 $265,000
Naptha Trader SK Energy Americas Inc. Houston, TX Jul 12, 2015 $265,000
Trader HSBC Bank USA, N.A. New York, NY May 21, 2015 $262,000
Trader HSBC Securities (USA) Inc. New York, NY Jul 21, 2015 $250,000
Trader DRW Holdings, LLC New York, NY Jun 01, 2015 $250,000
Trader HSBC Securities (USA) Inc. New York, NY May 15, 2015 $250,000
Trader Key Square Group LP New York, NY Jul 15, 2016 $250,000
Trader HSBC Bank USA, N.A. New York, NY Jul 25, 2016 $250,000
Execution Trader, Event Driven Strategies Arrowgrass Capital Partners (Us) LP New York, NY Jan 11, 2016 $227,178 -
Trader 3Red Trading, LLC Chicago, IL May 25, 2016 $145,000 -
Trader 3Red Trading LLC Chicago, IL Jan 12, 2015 $145,000 -
Chemical Trader Altis Group International, LLC. Houston, TX May 11, 2015 $145,000 -
Gasoline Trader BP America Inc. Chicago, IL Aug 25, 2016 $143,000 -
Trader DRW Holdings, LLC Chicago, IL Sep 08, 2015 $142,938 -
Trader Exelon Generation Company LLC Baltimore, MD Apr 13, 2016 $142,800 -
Trader Societe Generale New York, NY Sep 04, 2016 $140,000
Trader Old Mission Capital LLC Chicago, IL May 12, 2015 $110,000
Junior Trader Citadel LLC New York, NY Aug 23, 2015 $110,000 -
Trader Kepos Capital LP New York, NY Jun 02, 2015 $110,000
Quantitative Trader Tower Research Capital LLC New York, NY Apr 09, 2015 $110,000
Trader (Asian Shift) Ketchum Trading LLC Chicago, IL Dec 23, 2016 $110,000
Quantitative Trader Ketchum Trading LLC Chicago, IL Dec 30, 2016 $110,000

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Top Skills for A Trader


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Top Trader Skills

  1. Portfolio
  2. Equity Options
  3. Financial Markets
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed market/position risks and executed trades in client portfolios.
  • Mentored in and then successfully traded complex positions in both index and equity options for monthly income based on theta decay.
  • Provide analysis on financial markets to improve clients' decision making and meet their investment objectives.
  • Directed portfolio management and trade execution for $500MM proprietary credit trading book.
  • Analyzed stocks and foreign exchange trading through applied quantitative and technical understanding.

Top Trader Employers

Trader Videos

Day Trader Documentary - A day in the life of a multimillionaire forex trader | FX Viper Part 1

Day Trading For A Living: What Anyone Considering A Career As A Professional Trader Needs To Know

Are You Ready To Become A Full Time Trader?