Best Pathway to Get Into a Quant Program??

dkendall

New Member
I'm interested in becoming a quant. I started my professional journey by doing 6 years in the Naval Nuclear Power program (enlisted). I got out, and started work as a (non-degreed) electrical engineer, something that I've been doing for 6 years now. A couple years ago, I decided that I wanted to be a Financial Planner, so I changed my degree from engineering to Finance. I have one semester left of that degree. Somewhere along the line, I decided that financial planning wasn't a good fit for me, and that I wanted something a little more technically challenging and nerdy that I could apply my finance knowledge to. With all the experience I have, none of it really buys me anything when it comes to meeting the prerequisite math requirements I need to get into quant programs. Additionally, I've never taken a formal calculus course, nor do I apply it in my current job. So the way I see it, I have a couple different options:

1. Finish Finance degree, take prerequisite math courses somewhere as a non-degree student, apply to quant program(s).
2. Get a second bachelor's degree in math/stats, apply to quant program(s).

Would my resume look more attractive to Master's quant programs if I had an actual degree in math/stats, or would I be ok with just taking the prerequisite math courses and trying my luck? Holistically, I think my resume would be pretty decent (assuming a good GRE score) with 6 years as a Navy Nuclear engineer, 6 years as an electrical engineer in the commercial nuclear power industry, and a Finance degree. But I'm not sure how much of a holistic approach admissions teams use in order to make their decisions.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!
 

Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
If I had an engineering background I wouldn’t do any other degree then quantitative finance to get into the industry. If I wasn’t doing a degree I would pick up a cqf certificate and use some networking to get into a quant position. Please don’t do a degree in finance to do a degree in quant finance and etc.
 

danielfang

New Member
If you already have a Bachelor degree, I don't see the need to get a second one since the time costs are pretty high for your particular case. Getting certificates of math courses from online accredited institutions should work for you. I think pondering whether quantitative finance is a good fit for you is more important. Switching careers is really costly in terms of both time and money. But if you have decided, be prepared and go for it!
 

Onegin

Active Member
C++ Student
I did do the second BS in Math to qualify for quant finance masters, but it was by accident. 1) I started w/ basic calculus / linear algebra, etc number of years back. 2) My top choice program recommended I do Calc Based probability, mathematical statistics, differential equations, Stochastic processes, and another linear algebra program. After those, I realized I really wanted a stronger foundation in time series and optimization problems, so I added 3 more courses which got me to a BS.

To @Michsund's point - no one is really impressed w/ my second BS. it's prob more of a distractor on my resume. If I had time for 1 more course, the last 7 courses I took would be an MA in Statistics.

I guess I'd want to learn more about your motivations for the career switch. What attracts you? What are some of the reasons you want to switch? The field is getting more competitive, and the half life of a quant seems to be declining with even more rapid emergence of new technology. I'm very happy w/ my decision to switch careers to finance in my late 20's and then to quant shortly thereafter, but man, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

I don't think getting into a program is necessarily the answer you might be looking for; most are targeted to those with very limited work experience (check avg work experience for the top ones), and internships, etc, flow into a very well established pipeline. If you do pursue the route, you need to be prepared to network your ass off. because for a lot of roles, it's easier to have a wide eyed 22 year old than a grizzled > 30 yr old. Again, not saying landing a role is impossible, at least I hope it's not because I'm jumping both feet in to a MS degree, but it's going to be very challenging, much moreso than for many of your classmates.
 

dkendall

New Member
I did do the second BS in Math to qualify for quant finance masters, but it was by accident. 1) I started w/ basic calculus / linear algebra, etc number of years back. 2) My top choice program recommended I do Calc Based probability, mathematical statistics, differential equations, Stochastic processes, and another linear algebra program. After those, I realized I really wanted a stronger foundation in time series and optimization problems, so I added 3 more courses which got me to a BS.

To @Michsund's point - no one is really impressed w/ my second BS. it's prob more of a distractor on my resume. If I had time for 1 more course, the last 7 courses I took would be an MA in Statistics.

I guess I'd want to learn more about your motivations for the career switch. What attracts you? What are some of the reasons you want to switch? The field is getting more competitive, and the half life of a quant seems to be declining with even more rapid emergence of new technology. I'm very happy w/ my decision to switch careers to finance in my late 20's and then to quant shortly thereafter, but man, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

I don't think getting into a program is necessarily the answer you might be looking for; most are targeted to those with very limited work experience (check avg work experience for the top ones), and internships, etc, flow into a very well established pipeline. If you do pursue the route, you need to be prepared to network your ass off. because for a lot of roles, it's easier to have a wide eyed 22 year old than a grizzled > 30 yr old. Again, not saying landing a role is impossible, at least I hope it's not because I'm jumping both feet in to a MS degree, but it's going to be very challenging, much moreso than for many of your classmates.
@Onegin Thank you for your response, that was very informative. What was your first degree in? I’d basically be starting from the same point that you did as far as obtaining math credits. My motivation for switching careers is that I’m not getting the job satisfaction out of my current career. Here’s what happened: After I got out of the Navy, I needed a job to pay for my wedding (therefore I couldn’t jump right into school). I got lucky and got a job as a (non-degreed) electrical engineer due to my Naval experience. So then I figured I’d start a degree in electrical engineering technology (online) because that’s what I did for a living. When I figured out I didn’t like the job, I switched to finance with intentions of becoming a financial planner. But then, I decided that wasn’t right for me either. But I still wanted to work in finance. I wanted something that would apply technical/analytical skills with finance, and that’s when I came across quantitative finance. It was exactly what I was looking for.

I am very worried about not getting into a quantitative finance program. My competitors are going to look much better on paper than I will. Many will have math/stats/cs degrees from top universities. And here I am with a lowly finance degree from an online university, with (eventually) a bunch of non-degree math credits. That’s why I thought about the second bachelor’s in math, just so I’d have a legitimate degree on my record applicable to the program.

What would your opinion be on shooting for a M.S. program in stats/mathematics instead? It would be more generic of a program, but I could still make my way into quant finance eventually if I wanted to. With all this being said, I’m still very open to other job opportunities, as long as it’s got some analytical component to it (i.e. software development).
 

dkendall

New Member
If you already have a Bachelor degree, I don't see the need to get a second one since the time costs are pretty high for your particular case. Getting certificates of math courses from online accredited institutions should work for you. I think pondering whether quantitative finance is a good fit for you is more important. Switching careers is really costly in terms of both time and money. But if you have decided, be prepared and go for it!
@danielfang I'm not really worried about the financial affect switching careers will have on me. I'm not happy with my current one, so I need to make a change. There are a few certificate programs I could look into to get the math prerequisites I need, thank you for the recommendation. My biggest challenge will be making my resume attractive enough for them to even look at when I'm competing against people with math/stats/cs degrees from top universities.
 

Michsund

Active Member
C++ Student
@danielfang I'm not really worried about the financial affect switching careers will have on me. I'm not happy with my current one, so I need to make a change. There are a few certificate programs I could look into to get the math prerequisites I need, thank you for the recommendation. My biggest challenge will be making my resume attractive enough for them to even look at when I'm competing against people with math/stats/cs degrees from top universities.
I would not go for another degree. I would do wel on the gre, take quantnet c++ course and maybe one or two Baruch pre mfe courses. Do well on those and the gre and you’ll have a good chance at top programs.
 

Onegin

Active Member
C++ Student
You'd need accredited courses to have them count for most MS Quant finance programs. [edited - @Michsund 's idea for quantnet and Baruch courses is better than mine. Berkeley, University of Chicago, Boston University and probably others also have good prep programs] I'm not sure a total reset is the right move. It seems leaving your current role is more of a motivation than going to the next role. I'm less worried about your competitiveness for a quant masters admissions committe, and more worried about your ability to get a job after. Ways to improve your competiveness abound, but Wall street oasis might have more relevant discussion of these topics. It's a hell of an investment in a field where the cards are stacked against you. Not sure where you are geographically, but maybe look into getting a role at your regional Fed office or federal regulatory oversight board. They will appreciate your veteran status (thank you for your service), and count your online degree. If you're working as a financial advisor now, that's good that you're in the industry, but most of the quant programs feed into the institutional segment rather than retail. One of the providers here, Mark Ross, is on linked in and provides a career consulting service. He's quirky for sure, but very smart and savy. I don't know what he charges, but it might be worthwhile to chat w/ him in detail. If you spend 1k with him, but save several years of going down the wrong path, it's money well spent.
 

dkendall

New Member
You'd need accredited courses to have them count for most MS Quant finance programs. [edited - @Michsund 's idea for quantnet and Baruch courses is better than mine. Berkeley, University of Chicago, Boston University and probably others also have good prep programs] I'm not sure a total reset is the right move. It seems leaving your current role is more of a motivation than going to the next role. I'm less worried about your competitiveness for a quant masters admissions committe, and more worried about your ability to get a job after. Ways to improve your competiveness abound, but Wall street oasis might have more relevant discussion of these topics. It's a hell of an investment in a field where the cards are stacked against you. Not sure where you are geographically, but maybe look into getting a role at your regional Fed office or federal regulatory oversight board. They will appreciate your veteran status (thank you for your service), and count your online degree. If you're working as a financial advisor now, that's good that you're in the industry, but most of the quant programs feed into the institutional segment rather than retail. One of the providers here, Mark Ross, is on linked in and provides a career consulting service. He's quirky for sure, but very smart and savy. I don't know what he charges, but it might be worthwhile to chat w/ him in detail. If you spend 1k with him, but save several years of going down the wrong path, it's money well spent.
@Onegin Thank you. Your input has been greatly appreciated!
 
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