How to get a lucrative high paying quant job

(Last Updated On: November 9, 2011)

How to get a lucrative high paying quant job

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I have been asked through my Toronto based Meetup group (http://www.meetup.com/quant-finance) to put together a dialogue of resources for quant newbies and others who want to venture into this field as a career.

These are only my observations over the years.

Do note that the total time involved to get to a decent level of knowledge from scratch could take years. What makes you most successful is the inner drive to want to be a fully fledged ‘so-called’ quant. Do not give up and don’t let it become a pipe dream. Make it become a reality.

So here we go:

Do you need a PHD or Masters?

If you have 20 years of let us say in the info technology fields that are relevant to target companies like investment banks, hedge funds, bulge brackets, you may have a shot if you got the relevant skills. Recent PHDs with little job experience are usually put in front of the line for applications but it also depends on your school and course marks.  As the economy sours, this theory of PHDs seems to be not the case anymore but a lot of the desirable jobs want PHDs. Masters is bare minimum I find. Also, majors of computer science, math, engineering, and physics appear to be the fields recruiters like to see.

Where do you find the jobs?

Easy. Join quant related Linked In groups. These could include Algorithmic Trading, Automated Trading Strategies, Big Data Low Latency, Ultra-Low Latency Direct Market Access (ULLDMA), etc. You will be able to correspond directly with hiring managers if they like your profiles on Linked In. Most jobs get posted within these groups.

I have some job postings in my group of:


As for other groups, follow my profile to see the groups I follow. I am at:


Connect with me on Linked In while you are it!

I also find some really good paying jobs in http://www.jobserve.ca/Homepage.aspx. There are some decent North American jobs but there are mostly solid British ones here. You can also sift through only the high paying jobs quite easily here if you’d like.


Use http://wilmott.com/loginpd.cfm which is quite reputable for British jobs. I like the main recruiter Dominic Connor who is a straight shooter. Just make sure you impress him if you want to go far in quant. This will help you:


Other online resources to prepare for seeking a job:

Mark Joshi puts out an awesome document as well:


Dominic and Mark’s advice is quite important to help you succeed and properly prepare for your hiring process.

Also, another great resource for recent students is Quantnet.com’s forum at


These are the books you need to bone up on the analytic side which is crucial:

If you are new or self taught, I would recommend one of the following books from the two leaders of the field:

Paul Wilmott:


John Hull: Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives

Both books are pretty heavy on the math, but if you know this stuff you will be hunted down for your analytic knowledge.

I also like Carol Alexander’s Risk Management series which is very helpful as well. http://www.carolalexander.org/mra.htmltoo.

This area is where you will spend most of your time in learning to be a decent quant.

The software needs:

I love Matlab for prototyping. Most banks and large hedge funds use this but R is definitely on the rise but I know Matlab is widely used in industry. For example, I know that Blackrock specifically uses Octave which is a Matlab clone.

C++ is without doubt the number one programming language in quant. You should never worry about what others say, this language is the kingpin throughout industry. Java is big and so is C# but if there is one language you need to know, it is C++! Python is getting bigger too, but focus on C++ if you never programmed before.

The C++ libraries and APIs that are heavily sought after are STL (Standard Template Library), some Boost, but there is one never widely talked about. Try to learn QuantLib at http://quantlib.org/index.shtml

Many firms have their own APIs for quant related platforms but this is the easiest way to get familiar on how this works. It is somewhat large as it was developed in C++ so that will give you a better handle on how to master the typical development life cycle at large investment firms.

QuantLib also has a front end Excel plugin (QuantLibXL) as well which can be useful as many traders like VBA.


You would be able to see how Excel would communicate with a large quant based C++ API like QuantLib.  That skill alone would give you a major leg up against other candidates.  You can also use other languages as well to communicate with QuantLib.

Understanding High Frequency Trading Platforms

One good place to start is to go through the entire source code base of Marketcetera.


It is mostly written in Java but this can give you a very solid understanding how an HFT platform would work.

A recent book I liked on HFT and DMA (Direct Market Access) was from Barry Johnson:


Don’t want a job but want to run a quant based business like a prop shop?

A good resource for this is in Canada’s own Ernest Chan. His book gives you a brief idea where to start.


My own quant resources to help you succeed:

As for me, the QuantLabs.net site was originally designed to help people get into quant but it has evolved into more than that. To help you:

  1. Join my FREE newsletter where I put out blurbs about events, postings, and such to help you succeed. Go here to join: http://quantlabs.net/. I never release your info ever!
  2. Join my Linked In group and be my contact as indicated above.
  3. Want interesting quant data results from my monthly subscription delivery service? Get it here daily: http://quantlabs.net/private/ but you will need to learn stuff on through my email newsletter or on my blog at https://quantlabs.net/blog/. I have hundreds of industry white research paper documents at http://quantlabs.net/labs/quant-books and even a job board at http://quantlabs.net/labs/jobs.
  4. Lastly, I have actual online videos over at http://www.youtube.com/quantlabs

I know this is quite a bit to learn and eventually master but it should help.

I really hope this helps you get to where you want career wise or business wise.

Bryan Downing





NOTE I now post my TRADING ALERTS into my personal FACEBOOK ACCOUNT and TWITTER. Don't worry as I don't post stupid cat videos or what I eat!
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