Career advice needed: From finance developer to quant?


New Member
Hi all,
I have a computer science master degree and just starts my career as a software engineer at a well-known fintech at NYC, but I have long-term interest in applied mathematics/stat/machine learning. So I'm always considering a career of being data scientist or machine learning engineer in future.

However, in finance world, we have "quant", which is equivalent to "data scientist specialized in finance" in my eyes, is that correct? Or maybe there's fundamental difference btw "quant" and "data scientist"?

I guess many software developer in finance world may have struggled: Should I switch career to quant? And I have pros and cons:

1. I wouldn't be a tech person forever. Domain knowledge is also important, while finance is one of the fields where we could perfectly combine my tech skills (math + coding), domain knowledge, and soft skills.

2. Quant is the core tech role for financial institutions, while software engineer mostly serve as support.

3. I would learn finance/money/investment heavily, and establish a network with many other non-tech people (from hedge funds, hft, banks), which may hugely expand my horizon and life scope.

4. I think I'm kind of non-typical software engineer. I like communication and I think I like and talented in both math and coding.

5. I'm Chinese and may come back to China someday. And back in China, I think quants or finance-related titles sound more "elite" than just plain software engineer.

1. I've heard many negative about financial fields. Basically job openings are much less than Silicon valley, and package is not competitive as top-tier tech companies either after 2008 crisis. Seems tech industry is still booming and expanding into every corner every field, which brings opportunities everywhere. While finance is at most steady if not keep shrinking. This is my biggest concern. I'm worried if I really "dive deep" into finance, I may lose chance to get back to those tech industry.(But again I think I anyway need to dive deep into some fields like finance or healthcare for career growth)

2. Quant position is so competitive, and I have NO CS/math/stat PhD degree. Only option is to have part-time MFE degree. But I don't know if that investment would be worthwhile. Is possible to also find data scientist job in tech industry with MFE degree?

Many thanks!


Active Member
C++ Student
Your assumption that MFE = data science is mostly not true. Some programs are adding data science courses, but the majority of coursework is focused on determining risk neutral clearing prices at present, or forecasting asset prices at some point in the future. Check prerequisite courses for CMU, Berkeley, Etc to get an idea of the required knowledge. You’d likely have to do some pre-work before applying. For data science, there’s a wide variety of offerings, most new, some of dubious value. The best programs will provide a theoretical framework, and understanding of the trade offs and limitations of different approaches. The worst will provide code cookbooks and a rough guide of when to apply which algorithm. Linear algebra will be your friend if you go this way. Google Meucci PvsQ to get more information of general content of quant finance. Many firms are jumping both feet into data science, so there may be some utility, but it seems like a bit of a gold rush to me.