SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

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andyusa1
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: November 13th, 2011, 12:17 am

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

I have a PhD in Computer Science from a middle tier US university. I have since been in academia in various roles (research scientist, adjunct professor, consultant, etc.). Area of research - Theoretical CS and Machine Learning, applied to Bioinformatics and Natural Language Processing. Never worked in the industry full time, but have led several industry sponsored projects at my university, leading to publications, citations, press coverage, working prototypes etc. I am 35, currently single, and as a consequence of having spent all my life in low paying academic roles, in a financial mess. I have to decided to take up a position in the industry soon, and my top priority at this point is to find a financially rewarding job. In my field of research, I can at best get $110k-$140k with bonus, with measly annual pay rises. I am looking for something with a much better payoff, at least in the longer term. Does it make sense to look for a quant research/trading role?

elio
Posts: 134
Joined: April 5th, 2006, 5:19 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

I believe that with your profile you should be definitely able to find a gig. The question is rather whether you will like it once the novelty wears off. If I were you I would be very selective and definitely try too keep the option of going back open.Speaking of money, have you considered the fact that the cost of living varies wildly? Once you are in Finance your geographical flexibility will be very limited compared to now. Another question is why finance and not tech/it?
Last edited by elio on June 4th, 2015, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

andyusa1
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: November 13th, 2011, 12:17 am

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: elioI believe that with your profile you should be definitely able to find a gig. The question is rather whether you will like it once the novelty wears off. If I were you I would be very selective and definitely try too keep the option of going back open.Speaking of money, have you considered the fact that the cost of living varies wildly? Once you are in Finance your geographical flexibility will be very limited compared to now. Another question is why finance and not tech/it?Thank you for your note. I have been in this business long enough, so getting back should not be a problem, if I do it say in 2-3 years. I don't think I can get an IT job as I don't have the skills. And given how depressed the wage market for programmers has been in the US, it might not be a good choice for me either.

bearish
Posts: 5821
Joined: February 3rd, 2011, 2:19 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

Perhaps you should introduce yourself to SierpinskyJanitor, who in a very recent thread was inquiring about moving from quant finance to something like bioinformatics, whatever that may be. More seriously, as elio says, you have a decent shot at a finance job, but the cost of living may overwhelm the compensation difference. Your standard of living making $100K in a place like Iowa City is most likely higher than making$300K in NYC. Assuming, of course, that you don't mind living in IC.

WFNYC
Posts: 32
Joined: February 16th, 2015, 11:07 am

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

Where did you get your PhD from?

ElysianEagle
Posts: 93
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 7:25 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: andyusa1 And given how depressed the wage market for programmers has been in the US, it might not be a good choice for me either.Huh? Where are you getting this bogus information from? Software Engineers are in extremely high demand. In SF and NYC it is not at all uncommon to find gigs paying in the $150K/yr range for good developers. Unless, of course, you think$150K/yr is peanuts and you're aiming for the $1m+/yr range.Yes,$150K/yr in NYC isn't much if you're planning on raising a family of 4 as the sole breadwinner, but for a single guy with no kids it's not a terrible amount of money either.If you're in some small town in the middle of nowhere you won't be dealing with those sorts of payscales, but then if you wanted to get into quant finance you'd be looking to get to NYC or Chicago anyway, at least in the US.Also, with the explosion of ML + Data Science, there is now a real demand for people with solid quantitative skills even in the tech space. You need no longer be an expert "pure dev" and can easily leverage your skillset in the ad tech space (just as an example) and get very good pay.Finally - do consider the difference in COL between cities.
Last edited by ElysianEagle on June 7th, 2015, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

albertmills
Posts: 380
Joined: March 13th, 2007, 1:09 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: andyusa1I have a PhD in Computer Science from a middle tier US university. I have since been in academia in various roles (research scientist, adjunct professor, consultant, etc.). Area of research - Theoretical CS and Machine Learning, applied to Bioinformatics and Natural Language Processing. Never worked in the industry full time, but have led several industry sponsored projects at my university, leading to publications, citations, press coverage, working prototypes etc. I am 35, currently single, and as a consequence of having spent all my life in low paying academic roles, in a financial mess. I have to decided to take up a position in the industry soon, and my top priority at this point is to find a financially rewarding job. In my field of research, I can at best get $110k-$140k with bonus, with measly annual pay rises. I am looking for something with a much better payoff, at least in the longer term. Does it make sense to look for a quant research/trading role?what don't you like about bioinformatics? It seems like a pretty interesting field to me. How can you have a PhD in computer science without having the skills to get a job in IT? I'm not familiar with IT/comp sci, so this is an honest question.

Cuchulainn
Posts: 62981
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: Amsterdam
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### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: andyusa1QuoteOriginally posted by: elioI believe that with your profile you should be definitely able to find a gig. The question is rather whether you will like it once the novelty wears off. If I were you I would be very selective and definitely try too keep the option of going back open.Speaking of money, have you considered the fact that the cost of living varies wildly? Once you are in Finance your geographical flexibility will be very limited compared to now. Another question is why finance and not tech/it?Thank you for your note. I have been in this business long enough, so getting back should not be a problem, if I do it say in 2-3 years. I don't think I can get an IT job as I don't have the skills. And given how depressed the wage market for programmers has been in the US, it might not be a good choice for me either.General consensus is that > 70% (maybe even more) of quant time is spent programming. Others shops say they want doers, not thinkers...
Last edited by Cuchulainn on June 7th, 2015, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
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Cuchulainn
Posts: 62981
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am
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### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteHow can you have a PhD in computer science without having the skills to get a job in IT? I'm not familiar with IT/comp sci, so this is an honest question. OP has degree in Theoretical CS. I am not familiar with USA, but in Europe (in the main) this is equivalent to _done_very_little_programming_. CS is seen as an area of research?CS has removed itself from engineering a long time ago, unfortunately. Here in the Netherlands, most software developers have degrees from HTS/HBO (the equivalent of the original British polytech). Here is a video by Edsger Dijkstra; it is kind of relevant as it gives some of his personal insights into CS
Last edited by Cuchulainn on June 7th, 2015, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl

albertmills
Posts: 380
Joined: March 13th, 2007, 1:09 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: andyusa1I have a PhD in Computer Science from a middle tier US university. I have since been in academia in various roles (research scientist, adjunct professor, consultant, etc.). Area of research - Theoretical CS and Machine Learning, applied to Bioinformatics and Natural Language Processing. Never worked in the industry full time, but have led several industry sponsored projects at my university, leading to publications, citations, press coverage, working prototypes etc. I am 35, currently single, and as a consequence of having spent all my life in low paying academic roles, in a financial mess. I have to decided to take up a position in the industry soon, and my top priority at this point is to find a financially rewarding job. In my field of research, I can at best get $110k-$140k with bonus, with measly annual pay rises. I am looking for something with a much better payoff, at least in the longer term. Does it make sense to look for a quant research/trading role?if you're not living in NYC, and not working in finance since when has 140 k been bad pay?i mean, sure it's better to make billions or millions as a hedge fund manager, but for any kind of normal job 140k sounds pretty decent. If you're doing something interesting in academia/bioinformatics, it actually sounds good. It's not like you're doing soul crushing drudgery.
Last edited by albertmills on June 7th, 2015, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 1544
Joined: May 19th, 2006, 9:50 am

$140 K for nine months seems to be a decent salary. You can always supplement that with consulting work and with NSF grants. I know that in the business school most of the faculty makes between$150 K - $300 K and a large number of faculty exceed that amount in consulting and executive education work.In IT area there are two types of assignments.The first type is typical IT job which asks for Bachelor degree plus 6 - 10 years industry development experience. These salaries are very low, typically between$120 K - $160 K. The main reason is because you can be easily replaced by an overseas IT guy who has the same qualifications and experience, but is willing to work for a very low salary.The second type of IT job requires MS / PhD plus 5 years of industry development experience. These contract rates are typically between$1,000 - $1,400 per day. You also need specialized knowledge in ML, Low-Latency Systems, Multi-threading, and high-level Math, which is not easily available. Cuchulainn Posts: 62981 Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am Location: Amsterdam Contact: ### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35? Quote$140 K for nine months seems to be a decent salaryIn my university the lecturers had 7+8+6 weeks of lectures per year (Michelmas, Hilary and Trinity) terms.
Step over the gap, not into it. Watch the space between platform and train.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl

andyusa1
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: November 13th, 2011, 12:17 am

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

Thanks to all for your thoughts. I was in fact referring to a job in the industry as a Sr./Lead/Principal Scientist, most likely in NY or CA as well, when I quoted the salary amount. An asst prof at my level of experience would probably be making $80k-$110k (for 9 months) depending on the location. CS profs typically don't make much money through consulting, especially in the early few years when the focus is on obtaining a tenure and securing grants. Sure, Bioinformatics is interesting, but the market is saturated - there's just far too many people with these skills in the market right now, even at senior levels. So, the companies can afford to keep the salaries low and have no incentive to give raises and bonuses. In fact, Bioinformatics PhDs increasingly are opting to go work as Data Scientists in e-commerce, advertizing etc. I am open to taking up a role in Data Science, but am concerned about the long term pay offs. The field is so nascent and dynamically changing that it is hard to see what the industry and the salaries would look like a few years down the line. And again, the US universities have been producing Data Science professionals in droves for a number of years now, so it is only a matter of time before the salaries come down (that plus the increasing levels of automation and outsourcing). I program in Matlab and Python, can do multi-threading, multi-processing, and can program large clusters as well, but don't know OOP, C++, Java and what not, so that might affect my marketability too. What do the salaries in top 20th percentile for quants (with PhDs) look like 5yrs after they start? Thanks again!

albertmills
Posts: 380
Joined: March 13th, 2007, 1:09 pm

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

QuoteOriginally posted by: andyusa1I have a PhD in Computer Science from a middle tier US university. I have since been in academia in various roles (research scientist, adjunct professor, consultant, etc.). Area of research - Theoretical CS and Machine Learning, applied to Bioinformatics and Natural Language Processing. Never worked in the industry full time, but have led several industry sponsored projects at my university, leading to publications, citations, press coverage, working prototypes etc. I am 35, currently single, and as a consequence of having spent all my life in low paying academic roles, in a financial mess. I have to decided to take up a position in the industry soon, and my top priority at this point is to find a financially rewarding job. In my field of research, I can at best get $110k-$140k with bonus, with measly annual pay rises. I am looking for something with a much better payoff, at least in the longer term. Does it make sense to look for a quant research/trading role?And just as I was looking at bioinformatics as a new career...! Do you know if there's any field which combines computer science and biology and has good prospects?I've spoken to quite a few people about different fields/careers, and I get the impression that the western world is becoming more like some of the asian countries...saturated job markets in everything, and hyper competitive.

slacker
Posts: 114
Joined: January 14th, 2006, 12:21 am

### Makes sense to start a quant career at 35?

If I was in your shoes I would try to calibrate what longevity means in finance since that seems to be a major subtext in your posts. IMO, 10 years is a looooooong time in professional finance. Like dog years. What that means compared to other professions I have no idea.