Mutual Fund Portfolio Managers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school, take as many business, economics, mathematics, and accounting classes as possible. English and speech classes will help you to develop your oral and written communication skills. Computer science, database management, and other technology-related courses will come in handy as you conduct research and use financial modeling software.   

Postsecondary Education

To become a portfolio manager, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance, quantitative finance, mathematics, accounting, economics, or business. Some managers also earn master’s degrees in business administration or other advanced degrees. Students who enter a degree program in finance take classes such as Introduction to Investing, Financial Derivatives, Fixed Income Portfolios, Applied Portfolio Management, and Empirical Analysis in Finance.   

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education classes and webinars helps portfolio managers maintain their skills, learn about new investment strategies and financial products, and satisfy certification renewal requirements. Many professional associations provide such opportunities, including the Investment Management Consultants Association, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, Association for Financial Professionals, and CFA Institute. Contact these organizations for more information.


Some colleges and universities and professional associations provide undergraduate- and graduate-level certificate programs for finance professionals. For example, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers the Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management Program, which helps participants expand their knowledge of modern portfolio theory, behavioral finance, bond management duration, and credit risk equity market valuation. The Investment Management Consultants Association offers the online Essentials of Investment Consulting Certificate Program and the Applied Behavioral Finance Certificate Program. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many portfolio managers earn the chartered financial analyst (CFA) credential, which is offered by the CFA Institute. The CFA program 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.

Portfolio managers are typically required to obtain their Series 7 and Series 63 or 66 credentials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory arm of the investment industry. The Series 7, or General Securities Representative certification, allows you to buy or sell, or solicit the purchase or sale, of all securities products, including corporate securities, municipal securities, municipal fund securities, options, direct participation programs, investment company products, and variable contracts. It’s the most basic form of certification for anybody involved with the markets. The majority of firms will also require a Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) registration, which requires knowledge of state securities laws and allows you to be a securities agent. Other firms may require the Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law), which covers the same ground as a Series 63, but also certifies you to act as a registered investment adviser.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

This is not an entry-level position. At least 10 years of investment experience and a proven performance record are required to become a portfolio manager.    

Portfolio managers must have an in-depth understanding of financial markets, financial instruments, and investment strategies. They need excellent communication skills in order to interact effectively with current and potential investors and colleagues. Other important traits include strong analytical, problem-solving, and organizational skills; attentiveness to detail; confidence and leadership ability; and proficiency in customer relationship management, basic office (e.g., PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, and Word), and investment research and planning (e.g., Morningstar Office, Bloomberg, Zacks Research) software.