Mutual Fund Analysts


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Many high school classes provide good preparation for college and a career as a financial analyst. Economics and business courses will help you to learn about financial concepts, investing, and the business world. English and speech classes will help you to build your communication skills, which you’ll need when writing reports, giving presentations, and pitching stocks to portfolio managers. You’ll use a computer and the Internet daily in your job, so courses in database management, Internet research, and other information technology–related areas will be helpful. Mathematics and statistics courses will help you hone your skill at working with numbers and making complex computations. Social studies, science, and philosophy classes will help you develop your critical-thinking skills. Participation in business or investing clubs will also be useful.

Postsecondary Education

To become an analyst, you’ll need to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, statistics, mathematics, computational finance, financial engineering/financial mathematics, or a related field. Many analysts (especially those in senior positions) have graduate degrees.

U.S. News & World Report publishes a list of colleges and universities that offer the best finance programs in the United States. In 2020, the top 10 schools were:  

  1. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  2. University of Chicago (Booth
  3. New York University (Stern)
  4. Columbia University
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  6. Stanford University
  7. Harvard University
  8. University of California-?Berkeley (Haas)
  9. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (Ross)
  10. Santa Clara University (Leavey)

Visit https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/finance-rankings for more information.

The International Association for Quantitative Finance offers a list of colleges and universities that offer degrees in financial engineering/financial mathematics at https://www.iaqf.org/academic-programs.

Other Education or Training

Many professional associations provide continuing education classes, webinars, workshops, and seminars. For example, the CFA Society of New York offers online professional development programming. The Market Technicians Association, International Association for Quantitative Finance, and associations at the state and local levels also provide professional development opportunities.


Some colleges and universities and professional associations provide undergraduate- and graduate-level certificate programs for finance professionals. For example, Stanford University offers the Stanford Quantitative Finance Program (http://quantitativefinance.stanford.edu), which consists of five courses that focus on quantitative foundations risk and asset valuation, fixed income and credit markets, financial data analytics, equity portfolio management, and algorithmic trading.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Becoming certified is a good way to increase your chances of landing a job, earning higher pay, and keeping your skills up to date. Many analysts earn the chartered financial analyst (CFA) credential—especially if they want to advance to the position of portfolio manager. The CFA program, which is offered by the CFA Institute, has three levels of examinations and measures the candidate’s ability to apply the fundamental knowledge of investment principles at the professional level. To enroll in the program, applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

  • have a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree or be in the final year of a bachelor’s degree program; or
  • have four years of professional work experience (which does not have to be investment related); or
  • have a combination of professional work experience and education that totals at least four years.

Other certifications are provided by the: 

  • Association for Financial Professionals (certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional)
  • Investment Management Consultants Association (certified investment management analyst)
  • Market Technicians Association (chartered market technician)

Some companies require analysts to obtain their Series 7 (General Securities Representative) and Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) or 66 (Uniform Combined State Law) credentials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory arm of the investment industry.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Analysts who are hired directly out of college must have previous experience (internship, co-op, summer job) at a mutual fund or in financial research at an investment bank, in an alternative investment sector (i.e., hedge funds, private equity, venture capital), or with a Fortune 500 corporation.

Successful mutual fund analysts must have strong analytical, communication, organizational, research, and time-management skills; the ability to solve problems; a deep understanding of financial and economic markets; curiosity; a detail-oriented personality; and a passion for investing and the investment process. They also need to be familiar with company and fund analytics software such as Delphi Technology, Oracle E-Business Suite Financials, Palisade StatTools, among others; office and presentation software such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word; and financial modeling software.