How to Become a Stock Analyst

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Analysts invest a significant amount of time in their careers, but can reap significant rewards.
Analysts invest a significant amount of time in their careers, but can reap significant rewards. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Stock analysts, sometimes referred to as securities, investment or financial analysts, typically monitor trends in various types of stocks and other investment instruments. Most analysts either work on the buy or the sell side of various companies. Buy-side analysts develop investment strategies for institutional investors. Sell-side analysts, on the other hand, assist different types of securities brokers in selling investment products. Certain steps can greatly increase the chances of landing a job as a stock analyst.

Seek out a current stock analyst and conduct an informational interview. Financial analysts often work extremely long hours and must deal with strict, high-pressure deadlines. Although the compensation is a strong incentive for motivated individuals, the personal sacrifice to meet the demands of the job can be significant. Spending a couple of days shadowing a working professional can give you a realistic perspective of the day-to-day challenges.

Enroll in a four-year university to earn a bachelor's degree. This is an essential step, as nearly all employers require a bachelor's degree, with a preference in disciplines such as finance or statistics. As you apply to schools, talk with the career services office about the percentage of graduates who are successfully hired as stock analysts. If possible, attend a school that has regular recruiting events with relevant firms.

Pursue entry-level positions upon graduating. Your best bet is to target a firm that recruits new hires from your university. Expect such positions to be competitive and extremely time-intensive, but the time investment can yield significant end-of-year bonuses.

Obtain the proper licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the primary licensing authority of the industry. Sell-side analysts are the most likely to need different types of licenses, most of which require an employee sponsor. As such, most analysts are not expected to acquire licenses prior to employment.

Consider attending law school or business school to further your career. A significant portion of analysts pursue a graduate degree within five years of starting their career. Many employers make an investment in their analysts by subsidizing their graduate education, however some require a commitment to staying with the company for a certain number of years following graduation.

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