How to Become a Portfolio Manager

Three Parts:Getting the Right EducationFinding Your First JobAdvancing in Your Career

As a portfolio manager, also called a financial analyst, you're responsible for assisting clients such as businesses or individuals with investment decisions. You research financial information, look for investment trends, and try to predict the best investment for clients. However, before you can start working in the field, you need to know how to become a portfolio manager.

Part 1
Getting the Right Education

  1. Image titled Be a Good College Student Step 21
    Take advantage of internship opportunities. Starting in high school, do an internship with a bank or financial investment company or at least do a one-day job shadowing. This will help ensure you are really interested in becoming a portfolio manager as you'll learn what the job entails.
  2. Image titled Get a Counseling License Step 3
    Earn a bachelor's degree. Enter a college or university and study a finance-related major such as finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete.
    • Also take a variety of science classes as you may be evaluating pharmaceutical, medical, chemical, and mining companies for your clients.
    • Proficiency in a foreign language will help you advance in your future career, particularly if you speak Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish, or Japanese.[1]
  3. Image titled Get a Job as a Bank Teller Step 8
    Do an internship in the finance industry. Your college career center should help you line up an internship for a semester or a summer job. This is a great way to get experience even if you work for free.
  4. Image titled Get a Counseling License Step 7
    Earn a Master's degree in finance or business administration. Take courses in options pricing, asset management, and bond valuation. If you can get a job in a financial investment firm with a Bachelor's degree, they might pay for you to get your Master's degree part time.[2]
    • A Master's degree program takes approximately two to five years to finish, depending if you attend part or full time.

Part 2
Finding Your First Job

  1. Image titled Become a Bank Manager Step 11
    Seek an entry-level financial analyst position. This could be at an investment bank or portfolio management firm. A financial analyst position is the most common route to becoming a portfolio manager.[3]
  2. Image titled Get a Job as a Bank Teller Step 5
    Look for job opportunities. Make use of college career placement centers or search online job websites such as Monster or Indeed, or look in newspaper employment classifieds. Arrange for informational interviews with professionals in the finance industry to learn more about the positions.
    • An informational interview is when you ask someone to tell you about his or her job and the education and experience required. This is different from an interview where you are applying for a job.
  3. Image titled Deal with Being Fired Step 16
    Write a great resume and cover letter. Include any job experience and internships you've had, even if you weren't paid. Emphasize if you implemented a new program, saved a company money, or managed cash. In your cover letter describe how your background and experience would relate to a financial analyst position, as well as your personal qualities such as drive, determination, attention to detail, being a team player, etc.
  4. Image titled Get a Counseling License Step 8
    Stand out in an interview. Dress appropriately with a jacket and tie for men and a skirt and jacket for women. Offer a firm handshake and look the interviewer right in the eye. Again, describe your personal qualities giving examples from past job experiences. Describe how your background would be a perfect fit for a financial analyst position.
  5. Image titled Get Paid to Go to College Step 4
    Join a professional association. One example is the International Association of Quantitative Finance (IAQF). Many professional associations welcome student members and offer reduced rates. This will help your networking, and will give you leads on jobs and career training.[4]

Part 3
Advancing in Your Career

  1. Image titled Get Your Driver's License Step 10
    Complete training programs required by employers. You will also need to pass your licensing examination, such as the Series 7, 63 or 66. You typically won't have to pay for the examination, because employers sponsor the licenses.[5]
    • You need to be sponsored by a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or FINRA, (formerly the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), in order to take the Series licensing exams.[6]
  2. Image titled Market a Business Step 16
    Advance to a portfolio manager position. This will take several years of experience working with one firm. If you can do a great job as a financial analyst by proposing better ways of analyzing data or finding good companies to invest in, you will have a good chance of being promoted.
    • Other ways to advance in your career are to show initiative, volunteer to take on additional projects, work with or lead a team to design new programs, and choose investments that generate good earnings for clients.
  3. Image titled Get a Counseling License Step 15
    Earn a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. This is offered by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and will greatly enhance your career as a portfolio manager. You may also need a federal license if you will be selling securities.[7]
    • To meet eligibility requirements for the CFA certificate, you need to have a combination of formal post-secondary experience, such as a college degree, and work experience. You will also need to pass three examinations.[8]
    • The examinations are on topics such as risk management, professional ethics, portfolio management, and quantitative analysis.
    • To get a license to sell securities you need to be sponsored by a broker-dealer and spend many months studying before you can take the licensing exams.[9]


  • You must complete continuing training in portfolio management through seminars and conferences to make sure you stay up to date.
  • Working as a portfolio manager and a financial analyst requires strong analytical, math, communication, and problem-solving skills. You also must be able to work with a team of financial professionals and independently, pay attention to details, and understand multifaceted strategies.


  • You won't receive a job offer if you don't successfully complete an employer's training program or pass the licensing examinations.
  • A bachelor's degree is only sufficient if you're interesting in an entry-level portfolio manager career. You must earn a graduate degree to qualify for a higher management position.

Article Info

Categories: Finance Careers