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How Do I Become a Quantitative Programmer?

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  • Written By: K. Reynolds
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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A person looking to become a quantitative programmer would need to have a good combination of computer programming skills as well as financial analytical skills. Quantitative programmers, also known as "quants," specialize in creating software programs that analyze financial data and make predictions in regards to future price movements. Those who wish to become a quantitative programmer should understand that this is a very competitive field, and potential candidates will need to have a strong background in computer programming and mathematics in order to be considered for an open position.

Most quantitative programmers will need to be knowledgeable in languages like C/C++, Excel, Python, Matlab, and Perl. Programmers regularly use these languages in order to create new systematic trading programs that scour huge amounts of financial data in order to conduct profitable trades for the benefit of the financial firm using the software. Many of the programs are used in a high-frequency trading model, and programmer must give the software the ability to make multiple trades in the course of seconds.

Aspiring programmers looking to enter the world of quantitative programming will need to be proficient in analyzing quantitative data and conducting thorough statistical analysis. Although many individuals looking to become a quantitative programmer are experienced in creating software programs, those in the financial industry must have an extensive background in mathematics as well. Many quantitative programmers have graduate degrees in mathematics or quantitative finance in addition to formal education in computer science.

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Programmers with a background in statistics, physics, or operational research generally can make a seamless transition into the quantitative financial programming industry. A person who is looking to become a quantitative programmer but lacks the traditional quantitative skills can attempt to enter the industry as a non-quantitative programmer and transition to quantitative programming at a later point in time. Non-quantitative programmers are generally responsible for building customer-oriented applications that include submitting orders or organizing information within a database.

Overall, becoming a quantitative programmer can be a lucrative opportunity for the right candidate; however, it has its drawbacks. The financial industry as a whole is a high stakes, high stress industry and it is not uncommon for quantitative programmers to spend 50 to 65 hours per week on the job. This workload is often justified for many individuals as the yearly income and bonuses for a quant can be well over six figures. As many financial institutions are continuing to allocate large amounts towards their financial technology budgets, the importance of and demand for quantitative programming will continue to be substantial.

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