What Does a Bond Trader Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Businessman Analyzing Stock Market Data Over Digital Tablet In Office
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Back in the day and not all that long ago, there was a lot of screaming, a great deal of pushing, and no small amount of shoving in the trading pits. Sometimes actual fistfights would break out. Hyper-looking people in strange, multicolored jackets used elaborate hand gestures indicating buy and sell signals.

It was something like a bizarre circus with a language all its own. The trading world is considerably calmer these days.

Although there are still trading pits, most of the investment world has moved to more sedate, computer-based trading systems.

As a result, the work environment is changing, with more traders carrying out orders behind a desk.

Bond Trader Duties & Responsibilities

Bond traders connect buyers and sellers in financial markets. They buy and sell bonds, advise companies in search of investors, and conduct trades. Job responsibilities include:

  • Buying and selling bonds
  • Providing advice on the purchase or sale of particular bonds
  • Contacting prospective clients to explain available services
  • Monitoring financial markets and market performance

Bond Trader Salary

Pay for bond traders can vary significantly because many securities and commodities brokers earn commission based on the monetary value of the products they sell. Most companies pay a minimum salary in addition to commission.

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,720
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $204,130
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $35,320

Education, Training, & Certification

Bond traders need a bachelor’s degree to get an entry-level job. A master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is helpful for advancement in the industry, and is often a requirement for high-level positions.

Many firms hire summer interns after their junior year of college, and those who are most successful are offered full-time jobs after graduation.

You might be required to take and pass the FINRA General Securities Representative Exam, sometimes referred to as the Series 7 exam. It's mandatory before you can buy and sell securities, and you'll need the sponsorship of a firm behind you to qualify to take it. Agents who are registered with FINRA must attend continuing education classes to keep their licenses.

Certification enhances professional standing and is recommended by employers. Traders can earn the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, sponsored by the CFA Institute.

Some states require additional exams and certifications. 

Skills & Competencies

Analytical skills. To judge the profitability of potential sales, traders need strong analytical skills and computer skills to analyze financial products.

Math skills. Bond traders need to be familiar with mathematical tools, including investment formulas.

Customer service skills. Traders need to be persuasive and able to make clients feel comfortable with their recommendations.

Communication skillsBond traders need strong communication and interpersonal skills to build and maintain client relationships.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for bond traders are projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Work Environment

Computers can conduct trades faster than people can, so electronic trading is replacing verbal trades on exchange floors.

Traders usually work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. The work environment is fast-paced and stressful because commission and career advancement are tied to sales.

How to Get the Job

GET EXPERIENCE: Take advantage of internships, education, and training programs to ensure this is the right career for you.

PARTICIPATE IN COLLEGE RECRUITING PROGRAMS: Make plans to connect with recruiters if you're still in school.

USE YOUR NETWORK: Use your career network to find open positions and get referrals.

SEARCH & APPLY: Search job sites like eFinancialCareers, Indeed.com, and LinkUp.com by keywords like "bond trader" or "trading jobs" to expand your list of potential jobs.