Want to Make $100,000 a Year? Become a Portfolio Manager
Times change pretty quickly. Back when we first published this story ten years ago, the average portfolio manager was paid about $450,000 a year. These days, post financial crash, average portfolio manager salaries are lower. But they’re still not chump change.
PayScale says that portfolio managers make between $49,000 and $172,000 per year, with the average hovering around $83,000. Glassdoor puts the national average a bit higher, at $101,630 per year. Plus, most portfolio manager jobs allow for cash bonuses based on your performance and the overall performance of your company.
This is nowhere near the nearly half-million dollar salary from a few years ago. But it’s still a great, steady income option for those who enjoy crunching numbers, managing risk, and working with clients.
A full-time portfolio manager working for a large bank will need a bachelor’s degree, possibly in a math-related field. But it looks from current job listings (as of June 2018) that experience is the more important factor.
How to Become a Portfolio Manager
So how do you step into this field and become a portfolio manager? You can step into this career field even with an unrelated degree. But the easiest path is probably to begin as an undergraduate.
If you think you’d enjoy this field of work, start out with an undergraduate degree in something related to business, economics, or finance. You’ll have lots of math-related and accounting classes, of course. And you’ll likely need to go on to get a Master’s in Business Administration focused on finance or accounting, as well.
What if you’re already working in a different field but are interested in switching to this one? In this case, consider just going back to school to get your MBA in a finance or accounting related field. Be sure that you study risk management, or look for a degree program that includes courses specifically related to the stock market.
Once you get those degrees, you’ll likely find work starting out as a research analyst. These jobs pay less–about $60,000 per year according to PayScale. In this type of position, you’d be doing market research for a portfolio manager. It’s a good way to see how the field works and to start practicing making decisions without being responsible for all of the outcomes.
You can also practice in the meantime with a portfolio simulator. These can let you “invest” fake money in the market, seeing what kinds of outcomes your decisions would lead to.
As you’re working in this field, you’ll want to look into the licensing required to become a full-time portfolio manager. After all, when you’re making decisions with other people’s money, it’s essential that you prove you know what you’re doing. FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) offers a variety of professional licenses and certificates.
You can start with the Certified Portfolio Specialist (CPS) certification, which requires either a related bachelor’s degree or three years of experience in the financial services industry in general. From there, you can move on to the higher-level Chartered Portfolio Manager (CPM) certification. This requires actual experience in managing portfolios, so it’s something you can get as you work your way up the career ladder.
These certifications require classes taken through FINRA, an exam, and 15 hours of continuing education each year.
Other than this, becoming a highly-paid portfolio manager is all about making solid decisions that do well for your clients. Continue doing this for a few years, and you’ll find that you can work your way up the ladder to a $100K+ job within a few years.
If you enjoy working with numbers and understanding the ins and outs of the stock market, this could be the high-paid, fast-paced career you’re looking for!