How to make sense of electronic trading careers?

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by fatrat, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. fatrat


    I have the option of taking the time to go back to school and get my MFE, or I can go work at a hedge fund. Because of my background and interviewing skills, I almost always am able to find work. I even have the luxury of being choosy about employers. My background => Top 5 engineering school, graduated with honors, worked in 2 NASDAQ-100 companies.

    My objective is to learn as much as I can about electronic trading operations and launch my own operation someday. Preferably, sooner than later. What I don't know is whether spending time in the cubicles grinding out code is going to take me anywhere near wealth, or whether getting more of an education is the right thing to do.

    I have some short-comings as well. I am not a very good manager. I also need to feel absolutely convinced that the path I'm on is the right one for me, otherwise I will flounder about and jump from project to project going nowhere.

    I live in Manhattan currently. The troubling part is that the MFE program states that graduates earn $120,000 a year to start, which I already surpass in terms of income. In addition, before I enroll in any MFE program, I have to spend a semester retaking all the math courses I took before. I don't want to take chances with the MFE program by not having the math fresh in my head.

    I turn 27 next month, and feel as if I pissed away too many good years already floundering about and not moving in any specific direction.

    Will someone who was in my position please tell me the best path to wealth given my situation. Do I want to keep clawing my way up with my BS in the electronic trading hedge fund world, or do I want to commit the next 2-3 years to getting a graduate degree? And if I can pace a graduate degree, is it better to go it alone and start trying to implement my own trading operations while in grad school?

    I can't make a decision. Even if the next salary level I obtain is an improvement, it's still questionable whether this is the fastest path to wealth.

    I really need some kind of plan here, before I waste even more time going in no particular direction at all.
  2. Get a job, here:

    At least you'll be working for a market wizard with more than $250 mill. in his pocket and you'll learn electronic trading from the best.
  3. fatrat


    Unfortunately, that's in Chicago. Good post, though.
  4. Pekelo


    Not to mock the OP, but all those higher educations and not being able to make a decission, and what more asking for advice on a messageboard...I mean it is your life, you have to decide...

    Well, with my 3rd grade education, at least I can flip a coin....

    P.S.: OK, I was mocking, but seriously, if I say do this or that, would you do it???
  5. bellman


    Are there seriously cubicle jobs that pay MORE than $120,000? If you are already making that kind of dough, stay in the cubicle for a few more years and save up the capital you'll need for the enterprises that really interest you. Do NOT go back to school unless the prospect excites you. And YES, trade on the side as much as you can while in school and while working.
  6. fatrat


    If you want to live your life depending on the outcome of a coin, that's your choice. As far as I know, most high school guidance counselors don't push people towards "high frequency electronic trading careers."

    So if you have any sort of credibility or vision and can construct a coherent argument in one sense or another, then I might listen. Alternatively, if you know of a book that describes the options and enumerates the various paths to success, feel free to recommend it.

    If you have a 3rd grade education level and like to flip coins all day, I'll take you a bit less seriously.
  7. fatrat


    $120,000 is laughable in Manhattan. Most of it gets consumed by taxes, rent, and the high cost of living here. Unless you live like a pauper, the rate at which you save capital is not very high. Secondly, most software jobs explicitly prohibit you from managing intraday positions on your own account. In fact, they often have you sign a bunch of papers regarding compliance. There's risk associated with "trading on the side".

    The jobs above $120,000 usually they require an MS or a PhD. I'm wondering what the distribution and availability of jobs in those bracket are about.

    The real decision I'm trying to make is whether the opportunity cost of an education is worth it in the long run. I'd like to say yes, but want to hear from other people before I say, "Okay, this is the route I'm going for better or for worse."

    In other words, what is the risk:reward of taking a position in education in the relatively untested MFE world.
  8. Pekelo


    As serious answer, I agree with Bellman. I wouldn't go back to school, because I am against the schoolsystem, because they don't teach you what you need for life.

    So yes, I would just stick with the wellpaying job, save as much as I could, educate myself about trading on the side and trade (paper) and once I have a decent amount saved, make my move.

    But again, that is just me, you know yourself better...
  9. RedDuke


    Hi Farat,

    I was and still to some degree am in similar shoes. I reached peak ($ wise) of my current career (software development) few years back, and I was in my late 20s. Once I discovered trading, there is nothing else I want to do more. I trade Europe open (3am-7am our time, I also live in big apple), and then go to my full time job. I am accumulating grub stake to trade ES full time. Education (with some exceptions) can help you put few more $ in you pockets, but trading if you know what you are doing can make you wealthy (though only few succeed).

  10. fatrat


    What European products are you trading?
    #10     Dec 6, 2006