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Are you great at spotting a good deal? Are you courageous in your work? If you want a career that combines your interest in finance with your analytical skills, working as a trader in the financial sector could be perfect for you.

Are you interested in working as a financial trader? Explore the investment banking graduate opportunities available right now.

What do traders do?

Traders in the financial sector buy and sell things like stocks and bonds, shares and even cryptocurrency. In this role, you’re responsible for making sure the financial commodities you buy and sell make money rather than lose it. You can choose whether you work for a single company as an in-house staff member or multiple clients as a consultant. Here are the responsibilities that you have as a trader:

  • Research available stock, making sure it fits requirements, is a safe investment and will most likely make money.
  • Buy stocks and financial assets when their prices are reasonably low.
  • Sell stocks and financial assets when their prices are high enough to make a profit or before making a big loss if their prices drop suddenly.
  • Write reports on the growth and loss of money across financial quarters.
  • Keep up to date with changes in the market and any changes to policy that might impact your work.

Trader career path

Getting to high trading positions where you earn lots of money means going through the lower-level jobs that teach you the skills you need for the rest of your career. Here is the career path that you could take as a trader:


You could begin your career as a trading analyst. In this role, you conduct analysis into the markets, monitoring how it’s performing and making sure existing trades are performing in the way you wanted them to. You may help senior colleagues with their work, completing administrative tasks or other responsibilities which are important for the company or a trade but are time-consuming.

Career progression

With experience, you move up to a trader role. In this role, you’re responsible for the trades in your organisation, both buying and selling, you deal with clients and assess the strengths and weaknesses of a trade before buying it.

Future career

You can progress to a director role with experience and having a positive track record, plus several career steps in between. This job requires taking a step back from making any trades yourself and moving into a more managerial role. 

Trader salaries

Working as a trader in the financial sector can be a highly lucrative career path. Here are the salaries that you could earn at different steps of the job:

  • In an entry-level job like trading analyst, you earn between £25,000 and £40,000 per year.
  • As a financial trader, you earn an average of £60,000 per year.
  • As a trading director, you earn from £85,000 per year to beyond £100,000, depending on your experience and the organisation you work for.

Qualifications and training

Having the right education sets you up well to become a trader. Here are the qualifications and training you need to become a trader:


Most traders in the finance sector have an undergraduate degree. This is typically in a maths or finance-based subject including economics and some science subjects. Having a degree teaches you skills that you need for a career, for example having self-motivation and how to write long-form essays. You also learn background and contextual information in more relevant degrees like finance which you could use in your career to improve your job performance. It is possible to do a general maths, business or science undergraduate degree and then do a more specialised master’s degree. This is a way of gaining further, more specific skills and contextual information whilst showing hiring managers your interest and passion. However, having a master’s degree is by no means necessary for the job. 

You can do just as well in a trading job without a degree. One way of getting into the career path is with an apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, current employees in the sector train you to do the job whilst you work for the organisation. You get hands-on training and experience in a role. Whilst a degree teaches you contextual information, an apprenticeship teaches you job-specific knowledge. You can explore the current apprenticeships with the government's apprenticeship search tool. Remember, there are pros and cons of all educational routes but finding a course or apprenticeship that suits you and your educational needs the best is the most important part.

Work experience

For some roles, you can join the career path without any formal education. In instances like this and when you’re working towards a degree, having some work experience can help you stand out and show a hiring manager that you’re the best candidate. One way of getting work experience is through an internship. Internships involve you working for an organisation in the sector for a short period of time, often between a few weeks and a year. You learn how to work in the role, the types of tasks you’ll do and gain the skills that directly relate to the job. You can explore the current investment banking and asset managment internships available and complete this Bright Network Academy module on converting your internship into a permanent job to help you on your way.

Trader skills

Combining your education and experience with your skills is a great way to impress a hiring manager. Make sure you have examples of how you’ve gained or demonstrated these skills that you can include in your application. If you want to make your application stand out from the crowd, complete this Bright Network Academy module on mastering application writing to have maximum success with your dream trader job. Here are the skills that you need for a career as a trader:

Hard skills

  • Knowledge of the financial sector. A big part of your job is understanding the types of opportunities available and what you can buy to maximise your profits. Having an in-depth understanding of the sector and knowing all the assets available to you means you can use this knowledge to make the most out of your opportunities and make the most money for your clients.

Soft skills

  • Confidence. This job requires you to be confident because you make very quick decisions on whether to buy or sell something which could have a big impact on your client. Being confident and trusting your experience and the information you have helps you make decisions like this throughout your career.
  • Determination. Being a financial trader means working long weeks and making big decisions throughout. You should be determined to carry on with your work despite high stress levels and succeed despite a heavy workload.
  • Analytical skills. You need great analytical skills to be a trader. These skills help you look through the available stocks, bonds and shares and analyse which are the safest options, which could be most lucrative and which will lose you money. This analytical mindset is a big part of being a trader and helps you succeed in your career.
  • Communication and advice. You should have great communication skills to be a trader. In the role, you give your clients advice and communicate your professional opinion. Additionally, you report on the progress of your work to clients and colleagues. Having great communication skills, both verbally and in writing, is beneficial to this role so your clients feel involved in the project and understand the progress you’re making. Brush up on your communication skills, by completing this Bright Network Academy module on developing effective presentation skills.

Pros and cons of being a trader

Like any job, being a trader has positive and negative aspects. Knowing what is good and bad about the role helps you decide whether the role is right for you and if it fits with your long term aspirations outside of your career. Here are the pros and cons of being a trader in the financial sector:


  • You can earn a lot of money as a trader.
  • You often have great pension schemes available to you.
  • If you’re working with clients, you can choose the projects that interest you the most.
  • You have the opportunity to start your own business when you have enough experience.


  • It’s can be a hard job and require concentration and stress management techniques.
  • If you lose a lot of money, the fault falls back on you which can have repercussions with the client and in your career.
  • Outside factors may impact how well you do at your job, for example, the economy.

Trader work-life balance

Traders typically have long working days. You may begin working before the stock market opens so you don’t miss any good deals and work throughout the day catching up with clients and completing other administrative tasks. Having long working days and weeks can negatively impact your work-life balance, leaving less time for you to be at home and enjoy your other hobbies and interests. It also may impact your well-being as you have less time to relax. Another aspect of the work that can impact your well-being is the stress associated with the work. Being able to leave your job at work and relax could improve your wellbeing throughout your working life, as could having healthy stress management strategies which you can use when you feel overwhelmed.

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