Venture Capital Principals


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Business, accounting, economics, and mathematics classes will provide you with good preparation for the financial aspects of a career as a venture capital principal. Speech and English classes will allow you to become a top-notch communicator as you source deals, debate strategy with your colleagues, and prepare oral and written reports. Other important courses include foreign language, social studies, psychology, and computer science. 

Postsecondary Education

An MBA is usually a prerequisite for this career, and a science/engineering undergraduate or graduate degree is even more valuable among many firms. Some partners have law or medical degrees. Most VC professionals on the partner track have degrees from Ivy League schools or other prestigious colleges.

Other Education or Training

The artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci once said that “learning never exhausts the mind,” and aspiring or current VC principals would be wise to heed this observation. The world of venture capital is constantly changing and those who stay up to date will prosper. Those interested in expanding their knowledge can view webinars (such as VC Firms in Transition Debt and Non-Dilutive Capital Raising Solutions) from the National Venture Capital Association or enroll in short-term training programs offered by colleges, universities, and nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Here are two popular programs:

  • Venture Capital Institute:
  • University of Michigan Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance:


Many colleges and universities offer short-term certificates in business, finance, and economics. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Since you’ll need a strong finance background to be successful as a principal, it’s a good idea to become certified by professional associations. One of the most popular credentials is the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation, which is offered by the CFA Institute. To enroll in the CFA Program and register for the first exam (there are three levels of certification), applicants must satisfy one of the following requirements:

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

The certificate program covers topics such as ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investments, and alternative investments. Visit for more information.

Other popular certifications include:

  • chartered alternate investment analyst (Chartered Alternate Investment Analyst Association)
  • certified investment management analyst (Investments and Wealth Institute)
  • certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association for Financial Professionals)

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Principals typically have two to six years of experience as venture capital associates, or they have extensive industry experience (e.g., telecommunications, medical devices, consumer products, engineering, software). Most importantly, they need to provide evidence of their expertise in deal sourcing and structuring, due diligence, and business planning (including financial modeling).

Principals need excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they frequently attend investment meetings, interact with senior-level professionals at banks and equity groups as well as with current and prospective investors, and prepare written reports and financial documents. Other important traits include strong analytical capabilities, financial modeling proficiency, intellectual curiosity, high ethical standards, confidence, good organizational skills, curiosity, creativity, impeccable schmoozing talents, and the ability to excel in a fast-paced and demanding work environment.