How to Get Into Private Equity? – A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Updated on April 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

How to Get Into Private Equity?

So you would like to break into a private equityPrivate EquityPrivate equity (PE) refers to a financing approach where companies acquire funds from firms or accredited investors instead of stock marketsread more career? And you want to know how to get into private equity without any hassle!

There is both good news and bad news.

First, here’s the good news – if you read this article through and through, you will have sufficient ideas about how to start a career in private equity.

Second, the bad news is – that if you’re not from a relevant background (we will mention what is relevant), you will never break into private equity.

So, without any ado, let’s get started.

How to Get Into Private Equity v1


In this article, we will talk about –

Understanding Private Equity Professionals Background

How to get into private equity – Here’s the thing. First, please look at the Private Equity Job Profile and the desired background of the candidates.

How to Get Into Private Equity

To break into private equity, you need to have a background mentioned below –

If you are not from the above background and would like to get into private equity, it would be too tough for you. For example, it would not be easy to get to countries like the USA and UK. But in countries like Canada, India, Brazil, Russia, or Portugal, you may try to get in because people from different backgrounds are hired in these countries for small private equity firms.

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Video Explanation of Private Equity


How to get into Private Equity – Important Points to Consider

Now, here are a few key points to consider if you want to break into the private equity market –

You don’t have any relevant background mentioned above, but you still would like to break into private equity (you have great passion and enthusiasm for private equity). What would you do? You have the following options –

  • If you have prior banking experience and are way too senior, you can join a private equity firm as an Operating Partner or Consultant.
  • If you have done an MBA and have relevant experience in investment banking, consider the exit strategy and join a PE firm as a post-MBA associate.
  • You can also consider real estate roles like commercial real estate brokerage to break into real estate private equity.

Now, let’s look at the educational background you must have to break into private equity.

How to get into Private Equity

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Educational Qualifications required for Private Equity

How to get into private equity – If you want to join a private equity firm, you need to be a top-notch student and pursue your studies at a top-notch university.

Education Qualification


Here are the basics you need to know about educational qualifications required for getting into private equity –

How to Get Into Private Equity – Skills required.

Usually, many skills are required to get into a private equity career. But there are three skills you must develop if you want to get in and stay for a long time. So let’s have a look at these three skills in detail.

Skills Required


Let’s have a look at these three skills in detail.

  • Technical Skills – This is a skill you must develop if you want to get into private equity – Financial analysis, Valuations, Financial Modeling, Deal Structuring, Term SheetTerm SheetA term sheet is an agreement facilitating a fundraising process whereby two parties mutually agree to abide by the mentioned clauses concerning the more, Due DiligenceDue DiligenceDue diligence is a thorough examination of information and strict adherence to the applicable rules and regulations. It ensures asset protection as well as the avoidance of malpractices and more, LBO Modeling, and more. If you don’t know these areas, consider doing an online course or training and make sure that the training helps you learn the skill step-by-step. If you can do a video course like the Investment Banking Training Bundle or Private Equity Training, that would be the best option as you will be able to go through the training again and again to master the skill.
  • The networking skills – This skill is the holy grail of a private equity career. You’re not from a top-notch Institute, and you don’t even have a great career graph. Still, suppose you have a decent background and excellent networking skills. In that case, you will work shoulder to shoulder with other private equity professionals who have excellent backgrounds or from Oxford, Wharton, Harvard, or Stanford. So, how would you develop great networking skills? It would be best if you were upright and confident about your abilities. You need to communicate briefly and professionally and tell what you can offer. The best way to become a networking ninja is to create a structure of your story and use it everywhere whenever you try to send an email, personalize a telephonic communication or connect face to face with senior personnel of a big PE firm. The idea is to have no hesitation whatsoever. Yes, you will receive rejections most of the time (at least initially), but this skill will ultimately save you a lot of hard work and time.
  • Cold calling: Many people don’t consider cold calling as a skill, but it is a skill, and very few do master it. This skill is an extension of the previous skill. As a job seeker in private equity, cold calling is your best bet. You can still email different private equity firms. If you choose to send emails to big private equity firms, they will share your email with their HRs, and in most cases, you will receive a generic rejection email. And in other firms, the chances of getting a response from HR or any senior PE professional are 1%. However, if you contact the person directly, the chances of success will drastically increase. Start with smaller funds where the recruitment process is not structured. The purpose of cold calling is to get an interview. If you don’t clear the interview, offer to work for free for a few months and learn. This will not only add immense value to your resume; it will also push you one step ahead toward a glorious private equity career.
  • Make Connections with Headhunters – Do not expect Private Equity openings on a typical job portal. Private Equity Firms are small in size, and they depend largely on headhunters to manage the operations, including screening resumes, conducting initial tests and interviews, etc.

Compensation & Work-life balance in Private Equity

The chief purpose of getting into private equity is to earn a lot more and work comparatively less. But the truth of the matter is that private equity firms require you to work longer hours (sometimes longer than investment banking) if the need arises. So earning great compensation by putting in lesser work hours is a myth.

Private Equity AnalystPrivate Equity AnalystA private equity analyst is an analyst who looks for undervalued companies for a private equity investor to buy, take them private and earn profits. The companies are primarily unlisted, and the risk is more would typically work 12-14 hours a day, and depending on the workload, you may work 16+ hours in a few exceptional cases. Usually, if you are senior personnel in a private equity firm, you would be able to get benefits during working hours. But know that there would be a healthy work-life balance, and occasionally, you may need to cram all night.

The compensation is the main attraction of PE jobs. People tend to get into PE mainly because of the pay. So let’s look at the compensation of private equity professionals at various levels.

Private equity professionals usually get paid in three forms of compensation – basic salary, bonuses, and carried interest. Carried interest will seem to matter once you reach a higher rung. According to Preqin, the average carried interestAverage Carried InterestCarried interest, often known as "carry," is the portion of profit earned by a private equity firm or fund manager upon the fund's exit from an investment. This is the most important part of the Fund manager's total more associates and senior associates in the US receive is within $60,900 to $200,000 per annum. If we add these carried interests with the cash compensation of $173,000 to $259,300 per annum, then it’s a huge sum of money.

However, carried interests make more sense in the case of MDs and CEOs. MDs and CEOs of big equity firms in the US receive $3.3 million and $3.4 million per annum only in carried interest. In Europe, MDs and CEOs receive around $3 million and $1.5 million in carried interest.

Now, let’s have a look at the compensation at each level in PE firms (In the US, Europe & Asia) –

Average Private Equity Pay in the United States



Average Private Equity Pay in Europe

Private EQuity compensation - Europe


Average Private Equity Pay in the Asia Pacific



How to get into Private Equity – Strategies to get you started

There are a few things you need to get started right away –

  • Start by etching out a personal story: Structure a story containing your background, why you are interested in private equity, how you developed your interest in PE, where you did your internship (if any), and how you want to shape your career in private equity. This would be your selling pitch whenever you are asked to introduce yourself or whenever you will talk to someone over the phone for an interview.
  • Craft a great PE resume: Ideally, the resume should be one page long. You can go for 1.5 pages max. And remove “objective,” “hobbies,” and “personal information.” The only talk about your professional experience deals with educational qualifications, extra-curricular activities, and contact details. And make sure that you use all the PE terms as action verbs.
  • Network, cold call, and send emails: Do three. If you want to get ahead in your PE career, these three will do the trick. First, find out who you need to connect to. Then call up or send an email or sit face-to-face if possible. If you’re a junior professional, you can consider doing internships for top-notch banks if they don’t offer you interviews immediately.
  • Get started right away: Stop reading and start acting. Massive action is the key if you’re serious about your PE career. Start with anything. Find out about someone who you can contact today or craft your PE resume.

How to Get Into Private Equity – Final Analysis

A solid background is a cornerstone of breaking into the private equity market. However, if you have a burning desire and know-how to network, you will win half of the battle right away. The idea is to start immediately.

Reader Interactions


  1. Velankanni says

    Excellent and useful

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Nilesh says

    Thanks for the info, really benefecial

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      thanks Nilesh!