Career path: quant dev contractor or tech lead?

George Wooding

New Member
I'm at the stage in my career where I have 2 years professional coding experience, and need to decide where I want to end up, but I can't decide and need some input from people with experience.
I absolutely love coding. I love learning about how a new language or library works, even down to the very nuances, and then designing and building something that solves a real problem well. I even enjoy debugging, even if it takes me a whole week to fix a bug.
I'm also fascinated by mathematics, algo-trading and economics.
I really like building stuff in a team, it's great to have some banter every day in the office while also building something awesome together...
So I don't think being on ordinary manager would be for me. I could never just leave this fascination with the technical side of IT projects. I would enjoy managing people but the lack of engineering challenges would kill me.
So I'm looking at being a "tech lead". Is this a halfway-house to the management role described above? I think I would be capable of doing the people management side of things, but the engineering would always be my passion...
On the other hand, I'm thinking of specialising as a C++ contractor, and being the "implementation guy" for some quant team in a bank/hedgefund/HFT firm. However this is quite a niche language, and it's scary becoming a contractor as you're self-employed and building skills that may become completely worthless.
My experience is a maths with economics bachelor's degree, a computing masters, a year in C# server-side development (at an investment bank), a year in Java/Groovy-on-Grails and countless side projects in Angular, Python/Django and C++, to name but a few.
Am I being immature, refusing to take the lead and give up coding, or should I follow my passion and jump into the Quant Dev thing with both feet? Or is there another option I could be missing?
Thanks for your answers, regardless of what they are!

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Stick to dev work. You may not even like being a tech lead... meeting and Scrum coffee banter...

And 2 years of dev experience is neither one thing nor the other. After ~ 10 years reconsider.

I absolutely love coding
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