Job descriptions and industry overviews

Trader: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

Traders buy and sell stock, currencies, bonds, cryptocurrencies and other financial assets to make a profit, usually dealing on behalf of, or for the benefit of, investment banks.

Stocks rising and falling in value: trader job description

What does a trader do? Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Skills

Financial traders use data and research to buy and sell financial assets on a short-term basis, balancing the risks involved against the potential for profit.

Typical duties include:

  • researching prices and markets
  • making plans for purchases and sales
  • following news coverage for information about price changes
  • gathering information from researchers, sales traders (traders who deal directly with clients) and other colleagues
  • executing trades
  • keeping notes and records
  • collating reports.

Depending on the kind of work you do, you may also liaise directly with clients to understand their requirements and keep them updated on progress. You may also need to build and maintain professional relationships with new and existing clients, by presenting them with ideas that meet their requirements.

Trading offers high levels of responsibility, good promotional opportunities and impressive financial rewards including generous salaries and large bonuses. However, the hours are long and start early: research needs to be complete before financial markets open at 8.00am). The work can be stressful because high-impact decisions need to be made quickly.

Graduate salaries

According to Glassdoor, salaries for trainee or junior financial traders start at around £21,000 (you’ll likely receive a bonus on top of this). Both your salary and your bonus will rise with experience: the average salary for a financial trader is around £60,000.

Typical employers of traders

  • Financial houses.
  • Investment banks.
  • Exchanges such as ICE Futures Europe.
  • Treasury departments of major companies.

Vacancies are advertised by targetjobs and careers services. You’ll also find them advertised by financial recruitment agencies and specialist finance jobs boards.

Investment banks start recruitment very early in the academic year. Sector and company research, attending presentations, and networking are essential.

Qualifications and training required

You’ll need to be a graduate to enter this career. A degree (2.1) in any subject is required, though qualifications in economics, politics, business, financial or numerate subjects are often preferred.

This is a highly competitive field to enter so work experience will help your job applications stand out. Look for internships and vacation placements with investment banks, along with insight weeks and shorter-term events where you can meet recruiters.

Once you’re employed, you’ll need to complete further training before you can trade. Some will be on the job while some will be provided by external organisations. Employers will pay for your training, but working and studying at the same time can add to the stress of the job.

Key skills for traders

  • Confidence.
  • The ability to analyse data and make decisions quickly.
  • Numerical skills.
  • IT skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • An interest in financial markets.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Teamworking skills.

Make sure to sign up to targetjobs to get all the benefits of our graduate job-hunting platform including tailored advice and job opportunities.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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