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How to get a quant job in finance with no degree

You might think the path to quantitative finance is a rigid one and, for the most part, you're right. You would be hard-pressed to find an entry level quant at a hedge fund without an advanced degree. This doesn't mean that the requirements are the same for every job, and there's one secret weapon that can give you a huge edge, with or without a degree.

That weapon is open-source contributions. Something many prospective quants have likely already considered, open source stands apart from contemporary side-pursuits such as coding competitions for a number of reasons. 

Jose Pedro Magalhaes global head of the core strats, modelling and analytics group at Standard Chartered, says that "A degree is not a requirement and doesn’t necessarily get you in the door straight away." This is because "your knowledge can be more theoretical and less practical." Open-source programming on the other hand is, by nature, very practical.

This doesn't mean theoretical knowledge is a bad thing. "We've hired professors in academia," Magalhaes says, "and we've hired people with no degrees at all." One example he gives is a student that "started a bachelors and dropped out; he found the teaching wasn’t to his liking." Nonetheless, he had self motivation and skills that made him employable, with open source work evidence of that. Open-source is not a better alternative to education. Rather, Magalhaes say qualification and open source contributions are "equally useful when assessing a candidate." There are advantages to each. For example, graduates are used to structured methods of working, while open-source contributors may be more accustomed to unorthodox hours.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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