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The Quantitative Researcher Career Path

What does a quantitative researcher do and how can you land a job as one.


A career in quantitative research can be a highly rewarding and lucrative path for those interested in the financial sector. These professionals, often called "buy-side quantitative analysts", are typically found in investment funds and proprietary trading firms. Their primary responsibilites consist of conducting advanced research and analysis to inform proprietary investment and trading strategies. In doing so, they often leverage statistical and machine learning techniques.

To begin your journey into the field of quantitative research, you should start by building a robust base foundation in mathematics and statistics. While a bachelor's degree at a top-ranked unviersity may be sufficient for some entry-level positions, a master's degree or even a PhD is preferable. Some firms won't even consider your application if it doesn't meet their educational background requirements. In addition to a strong academic background, previous experience in a quant-related field is also highly valued by employers. This can come in many forms, such as an internship in quant research, data science, or machine learning. If you're currently looking for quant internships check out OpenQuant.

In terms of compensation, you can expect your total compensation to fall in the range from $200,000 to $250,000. Depending on the specific firm you work at, this number can be even higher. While the stability of the job can vary, it is generally considered to be medium, as the demand for these professionals is high, but the competition is extremely fierce. There aren't many jobs on the market and internships are scarce. This is why having some educational or professional credentials can really stand you apart as an applicant.

The work-life balance of a quantitative researcher can also be arduous, as the job can require long hours and a high level of focus and attention to detail. The level of stress can also be medium to high, as the financial markets are constantly changing, and researchers must be able to adapt and respond quickly to new developments.

Despite the demands of the job, a career as a quantitative researcher is considered to be very prestigious, as these professionals are responsible for conducting research and analysis that inform important investment and trading decisions. There are also decent career progression opportunities for QRs, as many pursue roles in portfolio management or other leadership positions within the financial industry after a few years.

Quantitative researchers also tend to work very closely with quant traders and quant developers. Oftentimes, quant researchers will help to develop models and algorithms that traders use to make decisions and may also help quant developers with analyzing the results of their simulations. In some cases, the responsibilities of these roles may be more specialized, depending on the financial market and/or fund type.