How to Become a Portfolio Manager

How to Become a Portfolio Manager

Being a portfolio manager is a potentially lucrative, exciting career which could have you handling major accounts from high dollar clients or businesses.

If you are good at making investments, a career as a portfolio manager could be for you. A portfolio manager is responsible for the building up of wealth of an individual or business. The challenge is to outguess the markets (which is not easy) and figure out which is the best path for an individual to take to maximize his or her ROI (return on investment).

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The title is sometimes used interchangeably with “financial analyst” but a financial analyst is more the observer and reporter to a company about what is going on with their finances and a portfolio manager is more directly involved with investment decisions. However, being a financial analyst is a good possible prerequisite for being a portfolio manager and the requirements are generally the same.


To be a portfolio manager, you must be wise in investing and know the markets. Stocks are always fluctuating, especially in the state of our present economy. More than ever, people need someone to help them keep their finger on the pulse of the changing money market, and advise them about what to do to make their money work for them. You should have a degree in Finance or Business and be highly skilled in money management.

Typical Education

The typical education for a portfolio manager would include a four-year (Bachelor’s degree) from an accredited institution of higher learning, with a strong focus on investment banking and financial skills. An M.B.A. would further enhance your career options and open more doors for you, though this is not required.

An Alternate Route

Technically, anyone could get you to be their portfolio manager if they felt you could do the job for them well. You do not actually have to have a degree to manage someone’s portfolio. But, if you want to do this as a serious career over the long term, it is advisable to do so. In addition, getting certifications, such as the CFA (Chartered Financial Analysts) certificate can also go a long way toward illustrating your ability to manage money or financial portfolios.

Steps to Becoming a Portfolio Manager

Being a portfolio manager is one of the most coveted positions in the financial field today. Handling someone’s investment decisions is an awesome responsibility, but it can yield very big results. Some portfolio managers are paid over $100,000 or more per year, if they handle the accounts and investments of high dollar clients or corporations. In order to become a portfolio manager, here are some steps you could take.

1) Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Business Administration, or similar field. A four-year degree is expected in order to do this job on a professional level. While it is true that some people hire portfolio managers who are just friends of the family or a banker they know, getting the credentials will set you apart and give people some sense of your professional knowledge and ability.

2) Obtain the CFA license certificate. The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) certificate is evidence that you have taken the exams and qualifications required by the national financial institutions and increases your credibility as a money manager of portfolios. Any other licensing you can obtain regarding financial expertise would also be to your advantage.

3) Get an advanced degree if possible. Getting the M.B.A. will increase your chances of landing a good job as a portfolio manager, since it is generally perceived that those who hold the Master’s degree are more capable of managing high level finance and exhibiting the analytical skills needed for the job than a graduate of a four-year program alone. However, the Master’s is not required in most cases to do the job.

4) Gain experience in the financial fields. Working in a bank or financial institution will give you the needed experience to learn to deal with financial decisions and the ethics involved in handling people’s money. Then you can focus on investing, in a job such as that of a financial analyst and move into being a portfolio manager for individuals as you gain experience and increase your credibility.

5) Connect with individuals seeking an investment guru. You can often find work as a portfolio manager or investment specialist by “word of mouth.” Tell others what your area of expertise is and offer to handle some of their investment decisions. Also, work on interpersonal skills and keep up on ethical responsibility of this career. It is important that people trust you and that you are a trustworthy individual, since you will be dealing with their money.

Being a portfolio manager is a potentially lucrative, exciting career which could have you handling major accounts from high dollar clients or businesses. It is also a high responsibility job, and requires a high level of ethical awareness and intuition to help people make the best decisions with their long-term investments. People who are naturally good at math and money, as well as knowing the markets would be a good candidate for this career. So get the credentials you need by starting with the Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Business, or a related field, and go for the gold! Education is the first step to success!

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