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phd in computational biology considering a quantitative finance job

This is my first post and I would like to say hi to everyone here.

I'm a third year PHD student towards the degree in computational biology, expected to graduate in 1 year and a half, i am working on monte carlo simulation to sample high dimensional biological systems and I program C++/C extensively. I have had a couple of upper-level stat and machine learning courses.

Now my interests move towards to quantitative finance, however, i have no background and work experience in this area. Now I have been considering to take the 2011 cfa level 1 test in order to gain a broad overview of finance area through the learning process.

I appreciate your precious advices for me, should i continue to take the cfa test or get a MFE after graduation?
I'd take the CFA test if you have time. That will give you some knowledge, and let potential employers know you mean business. I doubt you'll need an MFE if you already have tremendous programming knowledge.
Hi Everyone,

This is my first post/reply. I'm from an engineering background, have degree similar to MFE (risk modelling). I also have internship experience in a top tier bank and also in trading team (exotics) of a mid-sized bank. Most of my work was mathematical/numerical and research oriented. I'm also a fresh grad. I'm currently applying for jobs and also cleared tough math tests of some trading firms. For some reason, I'm interested in Computational Biology. I'm interested in genetics, etc. I have knowledge of C++ also. I'm currently considering a PhD in this field. This may sound wierd, as many people do the other way round. I lack economic intuition in finance and I'm mainly interested because of the derivatives in this field. Now, I see that it is not that interesting to learn economics and make interpretations (I know I needn't necessarily do this, but I'm interested in everything that affects my job). I can go into core programming jobs, but I dont want to do programming alone which is the main reason why I chose MFE as it involves math. Biology seems more productive (I mean I can give something to the society, not just make profits. Although finance is the same, I somehow feel biology is more beautiful). I only have one doubt. I want to know if Computational Biology is as quantitative as quantitative finance field. Math is my first priority. I feel happy after solving problems. I'm not sure if Computational Biology is as intensive and also uses C++ (I feel OOP is beautiful, so I also have preference for it) as in the finance community. If there is anyone who has seen both the fields and can give views on this topic (also considering scope for innovation in future) it would help me a lot. I'm also curious about the payscale for jobs. Thanks in advance.

At the end of the day, you want to do what you love but people make compromise because they need to pay the bills.
There are always opportunities to use math/programming in fields outside of finance. It doesn't mean jobs are easy to get. If biology is your passion, take a look at this, find out the challenges and what problems they try to solve and how you can use your skills to help.
Hi Andy,

I somehow had a feeling that you'd reply ;) Thank you for the information. I was just doubtful about the quantitative nature of Computational Biology. If there is no competition like in Finance, then there will not be much scope for innovation and also it'd be boring. I always wanted to be in a fast paced environment so that I can learn more. This is one of the reasons I chose finance apart from math. I'm still researching in this part of computational biology though. I sometimes feel that everything is same and I can do anything by going for a PhD in Math (so that I can apply it in any field, similar to the second link you provided). I will look more into what problems are currently being solved in genetics. I just posted here in case someone in this field might give more information as Quantitative Finance has Computational Biologists also. Thanks for the links, they're interesting.
Hi Ryan,

I am a PhD in mathematics, and lately been working a lot with Biologist and Chemist. I can see from your message that you have a genuine interest in science. I can see from my colleges that they use some hard core high performance computing tools, but not so much about math. If its math what you like, probably is a good idea to think in another direction. If its biology, but biology itself, what you like, then do biology.

I do have to say that getting a job in sciences is mostly restricted to academia. Getting a job in academia can prove to be quite a challenge and a not well paid one. But as someone said, you gotta do what you love, and love what you do. As I would like to add, if what you do is science be sure that you actually love it.

I wish you the best succes !