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Registered Nurse Thinking About Switching Careers and Entering a MS in Financial Engineering program

I'm a registered nurse that's worked in psychiatry for the past 6+ years. I have my MS in Nursing in which I completed one bio-statistics course and I completed by PhD in Nursing coursework, which included one statistics course in which we learned to use Stata (program) to run basic statistical analysis of research variables. But my research was more geared towards social type soft sciences. I do have a little amount of programming exposure by having gone to DeVry for a year for a post-bachelors in IT where I did a little visual basic programming. I found it challenging but was able to get through it with the help of a friend that was good at visual basic. I later entered a MS in Information Systems program at DePaul University but stopped to enter the Army to pay down student loan debt (currently at $220,000). I was a medic in the Army so I decided to go into nursing after I left the Army.

I have a Post-911 GI bill that will expire in November 2022. So I have to go back to school, otherwise, I'll just throw away those education funds. Instead of going for my Nurse Practitioner degree (which can only make so much money before it hits a ceiling), my intent is to get into a more lucrative career that does not have the same salary cap that nursing does. I'm interested in data science and quantitative finance because they seem to use a similar analytical, knowledge discovery mindset that research involved, which I love.

My main concern is if I would be able to make it through a Masters of Science in Financial Engineering program given my lack of math and programming background. I've been talking to some schools (UC Berkley, Claremont Graduate School, Fordham University, and Barch College) and they offer conditional acceptance where the student is accepted to the MS in Financial Engineering program but they must complete the recommended math and programming prerequisites before they delve into the hardcore quantitative finance courses. This is the route I'm considering.

Back when I was at DePaul in 2002 for Information Systems, I did take a java programming course, in which I had to drop because I was not getting it. I could get html and java script but I found java difficult. I have not had algebra (outside of GRE prep) or calculus since high school in the early 90's. My question is: What chance do I have of being successful in a MSFE program, given my lack of math and programming background, even if the MSFE program allows me to finish the math and programming prerequisites before the MSFE program?
Also, if I'm 41 years of age, is it more challenging to get into the quant analyst field in my 40's?


I know that it's never suggested to go into a career PURELY for the money but the truth is that the projected salary should be taken into consideration. If I go for my psychiatric nurse practitioner, I can start out around $90,000 to $100,000 and can move up to $140,000 in Chicago and $170,000 in Los Angeles (possibly $200,000 in LA). But that's as far as I would ever go. My impression is that quants can keep making higher salaries than what a nurse practitioner makes.
 
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I'm a registered nurse that's worked in psychiatry for the past 6+ years. I have my MS in Nursing in which I completed one bio-statistics course and I completed by PhD in Nursing coursework, which included one statistics course in which we learned to use Stata (program) to run basic statistical analysis of research variables. But my research was more geared towards social type soft sciences. I do have a little amount of programming exposure by having gone to DeVry for a year for a post-bachelors in IT where I did a little visual basic programming. I found it challenging but was able to get through it with the help of a friend that was good at visual basic. I later entered a MS in Information Systems program at DePaul University but stopped to enter the Army to pay down student loan debt (currently at $220,000). I was a medic in the Army so I decided to go into nursing after I left the Army.

I have a Post-911 GI bill that will expire in November 2022. So I have to go back to school, otherwise, I'll just throw away those education funds. Instead of going for my Nurse Practitioner degree (which can only make so much money before it hits a ceiling), my intent is to get into a more lucrative career that does not have the same salary cap that nursing does. I'm interested in data science and quantitative finance because they seem to use a similar analytical, knowledge discovery mindset that research involved, which I love.

My main concern is if I would be able to make it through a Masters of Science in Financial Engineering program given my lack of math and programming background. I've been talking to some schools (UC Berkley, Claremont Graduate School, Fordham University, and Barch College) and they offer conditional acceptance where the student is accepted to the MS in Financial Engineering program but they must complete the recommended math and programming prerequisites before they delve into the hardcore quantitative finance courses. This is the route I'm considering.

Back when I was at DePaul in 2002 for Information Systems, I did take a java programming course, in which I had to drop because I was not getting it. I could get html and java script but I found java difficult. I have not had algebra (outside of GRE prep) or calculus since high school in the early 90's. My question is: What chance do I have of being successful in a MSFE program, given my lack of math and programming background, even if the MSFE program allows me to finish the math and programming prerequisites before the MSFE program?
Also, if I'm 41 years of age, is it more challenging to get into the quant analyst field in my 40's?
Seems like you have a lot of student debt left and I would not add fuel that that very large fire. I always recommend people to stay away from debt because what’s the point of a degree of your spending your whole like paying it off. I went to state school and had a full ride so I am willing to spend some money on a masters degree. But in your case if your already 220k in that will increase to 300k+. That’s pretty much a mortgage, factor that into your decision.
 
Seems like you have a lot of student debt left and I would not add fuel that that very large fire. I always recommend people to stay away from debt because what’s the point of a degree of your spending your whole like paying it off. I went to state school and had a full ride so I am willing to spend some money on a masters degree. But in your case if your already 220k in that will increase to 300k+. That’s pretty much a mortgage, factor that into your decision.
Well, I should add that I'm in a nurse corp loan repayment program in which I'll be down closer to $160,000 by the end of next year. My GI Bill will pay for 70% of this new Masters program. So I'm still going to go for it. I'm thinking of doing MSFE, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, or Nurse Anesthesia. I'll be fine with the debt. It'll be worth it for me.
 
So if your not sure of doing an mfe 100% I wouldn’t go for it. Plus your math background seems weak. For example I’m a stats and applied math major and I’m taking 6 months off to prepare for mfe. I would recommend taking Baruch pre-mfe adv calculus. I’m taking it and it would let you know if you are ready for an mfe.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
I agree with Michsund. If you were having issues with VB then now is the time to make a graceful exit and not do this degree. Not to mention the maths.

'Quant' is not the only career on the planet. Nursing is a fine profession.

Are you in it for the $$ or does finance interest you? What do you know about it?
 
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I agree with Michsund.
Yeah, even as a math major I know the struggles of a top MFE program such as Baruch, UC Berkley, or Fordham. These are very good programs and have a considerable level of difficulty. As I said this is a large commitment and it should not be taken lightly especially if you have a lot of debt and are starting so late in your life to join the field. Through out my short life I have seen many people who change careers all the time and those people never seem to be satisfied. My advice would be to find your passion and go for that instead of the money. Especially at 40 this is one of your last chances so take advantage of your time and good luck!
 
why not a regular masters in finance? or mba-finance ?
I would agree with an mba it’s literally meant for people looking to change fields. Maybe like a Wharton mba in statistics. Or NYU stern mba in quantitative finance as well. I believe Chicago booth as a quantitative mba I would look into those.
 
I've worked at a well known academic medical center, and I'd argue that the MBA is the best route given your current credentials. Why switch into a completely different field and start at the bottom of the pay scale with your current loans? Also, every executive and CMO had an MBA. On of my favorites had her DNP with an MBA, and I am guessing she was well compensated.
 

Joy Pathak

Swaptionz
You add real value to society.

Unless you just want to make more money don't come to this world...there are better things to do. You can probably pull in at entry level 100-150K in a big city at a bank...maybe slightly lower on buyside. if you make it to VP in front office you can get to 250K average with bonus probably. and so on... in 10 years if you are in front office and you started as analyst then you can probably get to 500k but honestly its tough and u will lose several years on your life. If you are a trader or PM then obviously you can make quite a lot but that is a very tough job to get.
If you are a quant at some hedge fund or prop shop or a super developer then you can make that in few years but you can also lose your job on the desks first drawdown.
 
I agree with all the others here; I would stick to what you are doing. MFE is a HUGE emotional and mental drain as well as the new debt you will incur, not to mention you don't even know how well you will do in finance.

MOST FINANCIAL ENGINEERS CAP AT AROUND $200K.
 
I agree with all the others here; I would stick to what you are doing. MFE is a HUGE emotional and mental drain as well as the new debt you will incur, not to mention you don't even know how well you will do in finance.

MOST FINANCIAL ENGINEERS CAP AT AROUND $200K.
Is this actually true though, the part about 200k. Seems contradictory to what I assume to know.
 
Is this actually true though, the part about 200k. Seems contradictory to what I assume to know.
Average HF PMs make more. But a good portion of MFEs work in risk, valuations, and other middle office roles (which is a great field btw). In middle office $200k is going to take you a solid 10 years to get to (on avg).

People focus way too much on money though. Even $150k is sufficient to live a happy life with a family; I know many who accomplish this. If you focus so much on the numbers you lose much more than you'll gain.

Side point: I think age will be a real struggle for you. Getting an entry level finance job in your 40s will be a real challenge.

All in all I advise against this and instead find either a side gig (teaching for example) or something else you have a passion for.
 
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So if your not sure of doing an mfe 100% I wouldn’t go for it. Plus your math background seems weak. For example I’m a stats and applied math major and I’m taking 6 months off to prepare for mfe. I would recommend taking Baruch pre-mfe adv calculus. I’m taking it and it would let you know if you are ready for an mfe.
Sounds like a good suggestion, for me to take the pre-calc course. I'll consider doing that if I do move to NYC. I really don't want to be snowed by the math intensive courses and you're experience is giving me a good perspective that could save me from failing and having $300,000 of student loan debt with nothing to show for.
 
I agree with Michsund. If you were having issues with VB then now is the time to make a graceful exit and not do this degree. Not to mention the maths.

'Quant' is not the only career on the planet. Nursing is a fine profession.

Are you in it for the $$ or does finance interest you? What do you know about it?
Of course, I am motivated in getting into a higher paying career. I think that's a normal thing, but I think it's not a good approach for that to the the ONLY thing to get into a career for. It's my 6 digit student loan debt that has me wanting a $200k+ salary, because I'll need to make that in order to be considered for a home loan. I also have a goal of wanting to retire with a million $ at least.

If you have suggestions for other, doable, $200k type jobs, I'd love to hear them. I'm in need to figure this out quickly because i've got to use my GI Bill by Nov 2022.
 
I would agree with an mba it’s literally meant for people looking to change fields. Maybe like a Wharton mba in statistics. Or NYU stern mba in quantitative finance as well. I believe Chicago booth as a quantitative mba I would look into those.
Going for a regular MBA or Masters in Finance are definitely something I'm considering due to the difficulty of this program. I was considering that when I was looking at investment banking. However, my sister is a tax attorney with the IRS and her husband works for Bank of America. They are family and are blunt. They said that becoming an investment banker at the age of 40 is not going to happen. I asked some Northwestern professors and they agreed. Plus I'm not interested in working 80+ hours per week. I'd rather work 40 hours a week making $150,000 as a nurse practitioner.

But maybe there is a niche for my background and an MBA at my age.
 
You add real value to society.

Unless you just want to make more money don't come to this world...there are better things to do. You can probably pull in at entry level 100-150K in a big city at a bank...maybe slightly lower on buyside. if you make it to VP in front office you can get to 250K average with bonus probably. and so on... in 10 years if you are in front office and you started as analyst then you can probably get to 500k but honestly its tough and u will lose several years on your life. If you are a trader or PM then obviously you can make quite a lot but that is a very tough job to get.
If you are a quant at some hedge fund or prop shop or a super developer then you can make that in few years but you can also lose your job on the desks first drawdown.
To be honest, the biggest motivator for me thinking about switching careers is about the money. I could get my psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) degree and I could start out anywhere from $90,000 - $140,000. The problem is that, over my lifetime, that figure won't go up much. I could work for 30 years, and barely break $180,000. That's concerning if I've got a $300,000 of student loan debt.

This is why I want to find a career where $200k or $300k is possible.
 
To be honest, the biggest motivator for me thinking about switching careers is about the money. I could get my psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) degree and I could start out anywhere from $90,000 - $140,000. The problem is that, over my lifetime, that figure won't go up much. I could work for 30 years, and barely break $180,000. That's concerning if I've got a $300,000 of student loan debt.

This is why I want to find a career where $200k or $300k is possible.
You have to think if you'll be able to go long term in an industry where your only motivation is the money. Maybe you'll break in, but what if you become miserable with your daily routine? What if you become too complacent? All those factors I would take into consideration even if you are not thinking about them now.
Part of the reason I want to go into MFE is I realized my passion was in math. I couldn't stand a regular business job out of college and couldn't see myself working much longer. I wanted at least some alignment with my interest.
 
You have to think if you'll be able to go long term in an industry where your only motivation is the money. Maybe you'll break in, but what if you become miserable with your daily routine? What if you become too complacent? All those factors I would take into consideration even if you are not thinking about them now.
Part of the reason I want to go into MFE is I realized my passion was in math. I couldn't stand a regular business job out of college and couldn't see myself working much longer. I wanted at least some alignment with my interest.
I would agree I don’t like anything really. But I would rather do math then anything else so I’ve decided to become a quant. I specifically like calculus so solving pde and ode is something I enjoy. Don’t go in because of money. I mean within your own field with an mba in the health department you can make a lot of money. People who run hospitals make more then doctors I would look into that if I were you.
 
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