Traders are studying these courses in their spare time to ensure they stay employable

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If you're trying to break into finance now, you might want to think beyond the CFA qualifications. Yes, the CFA Institute has launched machine learning and crypto currency components to its courses, but these new CFA questions (when we looked) seemed pretty facile and you're still mostly preparing for a job in asset management or equity research. If you want to work in crypto trading, or to write machine learning trading algorithms, you'll probably need to look elsewhere.

For anyone who wants to break into machine learning or crypto, we're not saying the courses below are definitively the best in the market. However, they do have the support of senior traders who are looking up their games. Like the CFA qualifications, they can be done in the evenings. Unlike the CFA, they won't take the 300 hours of study required for each CFA exam - most require commitment for an 11 week period. They won't guarantee you a job (what will?) - but they will demonstrate your interest and might help you secure a job in either area in future, particularly if you're already working in a quant finance role and want to prove your skills are current.

Andrew Ng's machine learning course on Coursera 

If you want to break into machine learning without studying a quantitative Masters or PhD, by all accounts you want to look at Andrew Ng's machine learning course on Coursera. Ng is an adjunct professor at Stanford University and a former head of Google Brain and Baidu's AI Group.

Ng's 11 week course covers everything from neural networks to unsupervised learning and is rated by top machine learning experts like Oxford University's Professor Stephen Roberts. 

Andrew Ng's machine learning course on the Stanford University website 

Having completed Ng's 11 week Coursera course as an intro, some traders tell us they've moved on to his longer course on the Stanford University website. With 20 lectures in total, this isn't finance specific but will give you a good grounding in all areas of AI (including the autonomous control of drones).

Princeton University's Coursera course on Bitcoin and Crypto

Lastly, traders are topping up their machine learning skillsets with Princeton University's course (also on Coursera), which looks at how Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies work. Taught by Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor of computer science at Princeton, it's considered one of the best introductions in the industry and might be a good place to start as banks like Morgan Stanley prepare to set up crypto trading desks. 

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