How Do I Become an Oil Trader?

Mary McMahon

Someone who wants to become an oil trader may find a college degree helpful and could need a certification from a regulatory authority. The requirements can depend on the nation and market where the trader works. Many traders start out under the sponsorship of a firm to develop experience and establish connections with other people in the industry. Commodity trading careers can be demanding and stressful; it helps to be able to stay calm under tense conditions and to be confident when making quick decisions under pressure.

An offshore oil platform. Problems with drilling, as well as the quality of oil extracted, can affect its price.
An offshore oil platform. Problems with drilling, as well as the quality of oil extracted, can affect its price.

Some employers expect their traders to have at least a four year degree. Finance, accounting and economics can be useful subjects for someone who wants to become an oil trader to study. Some colleges and universities have programs that specifically focus on the oil and gas industry, another option to consider. Traders may pursue advanced qualifications if they want to rise to senior positions, although this is not necessarily required.

A drill rig is used to drill for oil.
A drill rig is used to drill for oil.

Regulatory certification can be another requirement to work as an oil trader. Typically this involves sitting for an examination to test understanding of the laws that govern trading activity. In some cases people may need to have several months of experience under supervision before they can take the test and receive a license to work independently. Employers may sponsor their personnel as they prepare to take the test, and an offer of employment could be contingent on passing the examination.

Training on the job to become an oil trader can provide people with information on how to navigate the trading environment, execute deals, and interact with other traders. It’s important to have a financial understanding of the underpinnings of commodity trading along with the practical skills to succeed on in transactions. Firms may start trainees out with small trades under supervision and can gradually give them more complex responsibilities. Open outcry trading, where people work in a trading pit, has been replaced in many regions by electronic trading, which allows people to work from home or the office.

After someone has become an oil trader, it may be possible to pursue a variety of positions. Traders can become brokers, and may also work as consultants and analysts. These opportunities can offer more income and come with different kinds of pressures than live trading. Brokers, for example, need to think about the interests of multiple clients when executing trades, while analysts can be liable if they provide false or misleading information, which can add stress to report preparation.

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