Is a Quant Career Really “Lucrative”?

A couple of visitors to my blog have unfairly criticized me for "hyping up" the "lucrative career" of being a quant. They argued that working as a quant is not easy, and I shouldn’t call quant jobs "lucrative."

Let’s debunk their critical points one by one.

First of all, I don’t know why they think I’m hyping up the nature of the quant career. In my book, I devote much more space to discussing the cons of working as a quant than talking about the pros (see chapter 1). On this blog, I’ve also often pointed out the negative sides of the finance industry at large and the quant jobs in particular.

As a practicing quant myself, I’m proud and regretful of my career choice at the same time. Some of the reasons are personal (e.g., my personality is better suited for being a student of the Chinese history rather than mathematics), but other reasons are the everyday pros and cons of working as a quant that I observe or experience every day. Like I say in the book, I don’t sugarcoat any facts, whether they’re "pro" or "anti" a quant career. I simply give my readers the facts. After all, they’re grownups, and they’re smart and ambitious, so they know they need to decide what’s best for them.

Second, let’s look at the definition of the word "lucrative." It simply means "producing profit or wealth," according to the Encarta Dictionary. The truth is, compared to most other types of jobs a quantitatively educated student faces, quant jobs do pay better. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why so many people want to get into the quant field: they already know quants get paid well. In the book and elsewhere, I also repeatedly point out that as quants we don’t get paid as well as many others in finance who are not as smart or do not have as much education as we are or have, plus quants usually have long working hours. Again, I never hide these things.

I understand, and accept, fair criticism, but such criticism must be based on facts.

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