All You Need To Know About A Day Trader Career
You heard about day trading and think that this would be a viable career path for you?
Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about a day trader career in the following chapters.
Not only will I show you how much you can make as a day trader, but you will also get information on job security, future job prospects, working hours, educational requirements, social standing and much more.
At the end of this article, you will also find a FAQ section where I answer all questions you might have about being a day trader.
After reading this article, you will have a much better impression of what working as a day trader really looks like and whether you still want to pursue such a career or not.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
What does a Day Trader do?
Day traders trade stocks, commodities, options, swaps and other financial market instruments on a short-term basis with the goal to outperform the market and to make much higher returns than the average investor who just relies on a passive investment strategy.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Day Trader
- Trading various kinds of financial instruments
- Research about current market trends
- Research on future events that might change stock market prices
- Construction of a high-risk high-return investment strategy
- Usage of inefficiencies in the market to make profits
- Assuring that investment technology works properly
- Operating investment software that analyzes various markets
- Making sure that trades are carried out properly
- Staying up-to-date with latest news
- Reading analyst reports
- Becoming a real expert in trading financial market instruments
- Complying with rules and regulations related to day trading
- Assuring to optimize tax expenses as best as possible within the legal framework
- Closing positions at the end of the trading day
What a Typical Day of a Day Trader looks like?
Day traders often work self-employed.
Hence they can start and finish their workday whenever they are motivated to.
Once day traders start working, they often check their portfolio and their cash positions and make sure that everything is alright and that there have not been any open positions they forgot about the previous day.
After that, day traders often study latest market news and read investment reports.
They also inform themselves about important decisions central banks may make during the day since those events are often good opportunities to make a quick buck.
In general, day traders use all information they can get with the goal to trade earlier than the market and to outperform buy-and-hold strategies in the long run.
Even though this will not work out for most people, there are rumors that some day traders have really made a fortune with this strategy, at least in past decades where market inefficiencies had been more common than today.
After trading for many hours, day traders usually finish their workday by closing their positions so that they can book wins or also minimize potential losses and don’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises the next day.
Day Trader Salary 2021
Day Trader salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $185,000||> $92.29|
|Top 25 %||$95,000 – $108,000||$47.36 – $53.82|
|Bottom 25 %||$19,000 – $28,000||$9.39 – $13.91|
|Bottom 10 %||$11,000 – $14,000||$5.43 – $6.85|
|Range||$11,000 – $280,000||$5.43 – $139,28|
Day Trader salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$11,000 – $34,000||$5.43 – $16.91|
|Junior||$25,000 – $53,000||$12.38 – $26.44|
|Professional||$42,000 – $67,000||$20.85 – $33.39|
|Senior Professional||$56,000 – $83,000||$27.93 – $41.28|
|Expert||$79,000 – $115,000||$39.36 – $57.42|
|Top Expert||$112,000 – $280,000||$55.89 – $139.28|
Day Trader salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$81,400||$40.63|
Job Security for Day Traders
Since day traders mostly work self-employed, they don’t have working contracts with companies and most of them therefore also don’t have any job security at all.
Consequently, day trading is a quite risky business since in case you don’t succeed, you will often have a pretty hard time finding a different job and this constantly high level of insecurity can really affect your mood in the long run.
Future Job Prospects of Day Traders
Day traders have pretty poor future job prospects.
Due to machine learning and our overall technological progress, market inefficiencies in markets are corrected within seconds and day traders will barely have any chance to outperform the market in the future in the long run.
Working Hours of Day Traders
As a day trader, you will often be a one-man show.
Consequently, you can work whenever you want wherever you want.
Hence, it is impossible to tell how your working hours will look like since this greatly depends on your individual preferences and also on the regions you want to trade in.
Thus, you will have a high level of flexibility regarding your working hours as a day trader, even though most day traders work a lot and much more than the average employee out there.
Job Satisfaction of Day Traders
Even though a day trading career can be exciting, most day traders are still not happy with what they are doing.
In fact, most day traders work long hours every day and the overall stress level is pretty high since they play with their own money.
Moreover, most daytraders are also not able to outperform the market and will not make lots of money and many of them even make a loss at the end of the year.
Promotion Opportunities of Day Traders
Since day traders work self-employed most of the time, you will also not have any promotion opportunities as a self-employed day trader.
However, in the rare cases you work as a day trader for an investment company, you can climb the career ladder pretty soon.
Career Levels of Day Traders
- Day trading analyst
- Day trading associate
- Senior day trader
- Senior day trader with a significant budget
- Manager of a day trading team
- Head of day trading of an investment company
- Founder of an own day trading company
Fields and Types of Day Traders
- Day traders specialized in industrialized countries
- Day traders specialized in emerging markets
- Day traders specialized in Third-world countries
- Day traders who focus on stocks
- Day traders focused on trading options
- Day traders specialized in futures
- Day traders focused on commodities
- Day traders who are highly leveraged
- High-risk day traders
- Day traders with a balanced risk-return profile
Educational Requirements for Day Traders
While you will not need fancy education if you just want to work as a self-employed day trader, you will often need a college degree in finance or related fields with excellent grades if you want to work in trading at renowned investment banks.
How to become a Day Trader
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being an day trader
- Make sure that you have the emotional strength needed for working as a day trader
- Inform yourself about all kinds of financial instruments
- Learn about proper bankroll management
- Complete courses or get a degree in this field (optional if you work self-employed)
- Make your first small trades with as low risk as possible
- Track your results and see if you can outperform the market in the long run
- Adjust your investment strategy and hedge yourself against extreme risks
- Don’t underestimate the risk involved in day trading and always stay focused
- Always close your positions at the end of your workday
- Be honest with yourself
- Always ask yourself whether you could not be happier with a different job
Character Traits you need for Working as a Day Trader
- Stress resistance is key to success as a day trader
- Staying calm under pressure
- Ability to handle financial swings
- Willingness to rely on a pretty insecure income
- Mental strength to push through difficult times
- You should not be affected by the daily outcome that much
- Ability to accept losing streaks
- Emotional stability to deal with negative comments of your family
- You always need to stay focused to avoid serious financial mistakes
- Discipline to carry out your investment strategy
- Acceptance that you can not foresee future market movements
Hard Skills for Day Traders
- Excellent knowledge of financial instruments
- Excellent knowledge of the markets you operate in
- Strong analytical skills
- Knowledge of investment strategies
- Ability to change your strategy if unexpected things happen
- Talent to process information quickly
- Good knowledge of technology
- Knowledge of legal issues related to day trading
- Knowledge of tax codes and how to deal with them
- Ability to see patterns
- Understanding of how financial markets change over time
Soft Skills for Day Traders
- Persistence to reach your investment goals
- Patience during times your strategies don’t work out
- You have to believe in yourself
- Strong emotional mindset to deal with drawbacks
- You should be able to ignore nasty comments of other people
- Ability to deal with the pressure that comes along with a day trading career
- Ability to convince your family that day trading will be a good idea
- Willingness to make decisions alone
- Decisiveness to make investment decisions in a rather short period of time
- Willingness to adjust your investment strategy over time
- You should be willing to always learn new things
Exit Options for Day Traders
Exit options for day traders are pretty poor, especially if you have worked self-employed and don’t have anything to show on your résumé since many companies out there will think that you have not actually worked and haven’t been able to find a real job.
Moreover, day traders also have a pretty questionable reputation and many companies are not willing to employ them.
Day Trader – Similar Careers
- Investment banker
- Financial analyst
- Financial controller
- Working in private equity
- Working at a stock exchange
- Working at a hedge fund
- Market maker
- Compliance officer
Day Trader Career FAQs
Is working as a day trader physically demanding?
Working as a day trader is not physically demanding.
For most of the time, you will just sit in an office chair looking at many computer screens and figuring out trading opportunities.
In turn, your level of physical effort will be quite limited compared to construction workers who have to lift heavy things on a regular basis.
Is working as a day trader mentally demanding?
Being a day trader can be extremely mentally and emotionally demanding.
In fact, you always need to stay focused since in case you make mistakes, those mistakes can translate into serious financial losses or may even ruin you within a few minutes or even seconds.
Is it dangerous to work as a day trader?
While you don’t have to fear being attacked during your work as a day trader, it can still be risky to work as a day trader since you will play with your own money and in case your investment decisions don’t work out, you may lose all your money and may even have to pay back people you have lent money from for quite a long time.
How long do day traders stay in their jobs?
Day traders often don’t stay in their jobs for long since working as a day trader is extremely mentally and emotionally challenging and not many people are able to withstand the pressure.
However, there are also some people who just don’t find another job anymore and have no option other than to stay in the day trading business for an extended period of time.
Is it easy for day traders to find a new job?
While you will have a pretty easy time if you work as a trader for an investment bank to find a new job since you will enjoy a pretty high reputation in the financial industry and will also often have excellent education, you will have a hard time finding a job if you are just a self-employed day trader who doesn’t have good qualifications and no track record of success.
Is it hard to switch from being a day trader to another field of work?
It is pretty hard for self-employed day traders to switch to another field of work since they often just lack the qualification to work in a different field.
Moreover, even though they might have the mental capabilities to work in many other jobs, many day traders may just not get a job since they don’t look good enough on paper.
Do day traders have a high social status?
Day traders have rather low social status.
While day trading is often associated with making good money, an increasing number of people out there becomes aware of the fact that most day traders will not succeed in what they are doing and that most of them just brag to look good in front of other people and live a fake-it-till-you-make-it lifestyle instead of doing something honest.
Can you help out your family and friends as a day trader?
Since you will not learn many skills that are helpful for your loved ones, it will be pretty hard to help out your family and friends as a day trader.
While carpenters and other craftsmen will be able to repair and create furniture and other nice things, you will not be able to do anything in this regard and may have a rather low standing in your circle of friends.
Can day traders work remotely?
Day traders are able to work remotely.
In fact, they can work wherever they want whenever they want and are completely location-independent.
Consequently, you can work from home all the time and can save lots of money and time compared to people who still have to commute to work every day.
Is it easy to find a partner as a day trader?
Since you will have to deal with huge financial swings and also don’t have any job security at all, finding a partner for a long-term relationship can be pretty hard for a day trader.
Hence, apart from short-term affairs, you may not be able to find someone who relies on you enough to spend the rest of his or her life with you since you will not be credible and reliable enough as a provider.
Do day traders have to work on weekends?
Day traders often don’t work on weekends since most stock exchanges are closed and information flows are rather limited.
Consequently, while you will have to work many hours during weekdays, you will often be able to enjoy your life on weekends with all the nice things you like even more than working.
Do day traders have to work on holidays?
While day traders don’t necessarily have to work on holidays, you might still want to do so, especially if you are heavily invested in regions abroad where your national holidays don’t matter at all and stock exchanges may still be open.
Do day traders have to work at nighttime?
Depending on the region you want to trade stocks in, you will often also have to work at nighttime.
For instance, if you live in America but also want to trade financial market instruments related to Europe, you will have to accept huge time differences and this can lead to a state where you frequently have to work at night instead of sleeping.
Do you have to travel as a day trader?
There is no need to travel for day traders since you can just work from home all the time.
However, you can still travel if you like to and do your work from wherever you want since you will be completely location-independent as long as you have an internet connection to do your trades.
Are day trader pensions good?
Since day traders often work self-employed, most of them don’t get good pensions.
Instead, day traders have to save and invest money for retirement on their own terms and if they don’t do enough in this regard, they will also not have enough money for retirement and may still have to work during retirement age.
Are day trader salaries going up?
Since day traders mainly work self-employed and don’t get a salary, there had not been any changes in the salary of self-employed day traders over the past years at all.
However, income prospects have still decreased since due to advanced technologies, the market becomes almost perfectly efficient and it is much harder to outperform the market as a day trader now compared to some decades ago when there had been more arbitrage opportunities.
Can you have a positive effect on society as a day trader?
You will not be able to have any positive effect on society as a day trader since you will just carry out trades for your own good without carrying about whether those trades will be beneficial for society or may even hurt many people in the long run.
How long does it take to become a day trader?
Since you will not have to get fancy education for working as a self-employed day trader, you can become a day trader within a few days.
However, to become a successful day trader, most people need many years and are still not able to outperform markets in a significant manner.
Is it difficult to become a day trader?
Becoming a day trader is not difficult at all since you don’t need fancy education but just have to open a portfolio at a bank.
However, while becoming a day trader is not difficult, becoming and staying successful in this field is a real challenge and not many people are able to do so.
Do you need to be smart to work as a day trader?
Since you need to process lots of information and also need a good understanding of financial markets, you should be reasonably smart if you want to work and succeed in this field for a longer period of time.
Do day traders have a good work-life balance?
Most day traders have pretty poor work-life balance.
They often have to work on holidays and also process information from different time zones which in turn means that day traders will often not have any leisure apart from the weekends.
Do day traders have to work many extra hours?
While day traders can decide how much they want to work since they are self-employed, most day traders still work many hours a day since they feel that they always have to stay up-to-date with latest developments so that they don’t miss out on any profitable trades.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a day trader?
To maximize your chances of succeeding in the day trading business, you should get knowledge about financial instruments as early as possible.
Moreover, you should also work on your mindset and make sure that financial swings will not bother you that much since you will have to deal with them on a regular basis during your day trading career.
Can day traders work part-time?
While most day traders can work whenever they want, most of them are still not able to work part-time since in order to make real money, you will always have to keep up with latest developments and adjust your trades according to that if you really aspire to make a full-time income from what you are doing.
Do day traders work indoors or outdoors?
Day traders work indoors in an office environment or at home and don’t have to care whether it rains or snows outdoors.
Consequently, working as a day trader can be much more convenient in this regard compared to working as a roofer or welder where you often have to work outdoors during unpleasant climatic conditions.
What does the workplace of a day trader look like?
As a day trader, you will have to process upcoming information as quickly as possible to get an edge over the competition and to make trades before most other market participants have recognized those opportunities.
Hence, you will set up your office with many computer screens so that you can have a look at many charts at the same time and can figure out when the right time for a trade has come.
Do you have to look good for working as a day trader?
Your looks don’t matter for the success or failure of your daytrading career at all.
Markets don’t care about your looks and as long as you are exceptionally good at trading, you can sit at home in your underpants and still succeed as a day trader.
Is a day trader career beneficial for your private life?
Day trading is not beneficial for your private life at all since you will always have to deal with a high level of insecurity about your financial future and you will also often have to work at nighttime.
Consequently, maintaining a long-term relationship will be pretty hard for you as a day trader.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a day trader?
While you will need a college degree with excellent grades if you want to work as an employed trader at an investment bank, you will not need a degree if you just want to work as a self-employed day trader who only trades on his or her own account.
Do you need to be certified to work as a day trader?
You don’t need to be certified for working as a day trader.
In most states, it will be enough if you can prove that you have a certain understanding of how financial markets work and that you are not extremely stupid and you will be good to go.
How much does it cost to become a day trader?
It will not cost anything to become a day trader.
However, you still need some money to start your career since without money, you will not be able to make trades and without trades, you will not be able to make additional money which is the actual goal of day trading.
Hence, make sure to save up some money until you are confident enough that you can make it as a day trader in the long run.
Is being a day trader a good career?
Since you will have to deal with a high level of insecurity, lots of pressure and your chances to succeed as a day trader will be pretty low, day trading cannot be considered a good career and you may rather want to go for something more stable in the long run.
Is it easy to start your own business as a day trader?
Since barriers to entry are pretty low and you also don’t need any fancy education, it is pretty easy to start your own business and work self-employed as a day trader.
However, if you want to open a day trading business where you have employees, you would have to deal with many more legal issues and you should therefore rather work on your own in most cases.
Can day traders teach themselves?
It is relatively easy to teach yourself as a day trader.
Thanks to the internet, you can find everything you need to know about trading and financial markets online without having to pay for a fancy degree or other expensive courses anymore.
Do day traders make good money?
While a small minority of day traders makes really good money, the vast majority of day traders will not succeed and some of them will even lose lots of money.
Hence, day trading is not a solid business model at all and you should not get into it if you don’t know exactly what you are doing to prevent yourself from getting yourself into serious financial trouble.
Is it ever too late to become a day trader?
While day trading is not demanding from a physical perspective and your body often allows you to do it at an older age, I still don’t recommend going for a day trading career in your older years since the job as a day trader is mentally exhausting and the older you get, the more brainpower you will lose.
Do day traders have to quit their careers early?
Day traders don’t have to quit their careers early due to physical reasons.
However, many of them have to quit due to mental and emotional issues and some day traders also have to quit their careers since they simply run out of money.
What is the most challenging thing about working as a day trader?
The most challenging thing about a day trading career is that you have to deal with a high level of insecurity on a regular basis and that you can also never be sure whether the next trades will financially benefit or ruin you.
Can you provide for your family by working as a day trader?
If you want to have kids and a family, you should not get into day trading since you will not be able to provide for your loved ones most often.
In fact, most day traders are not able to outperform the market and rather lose instead of make money in the long run.
Will day traders suffer from old-age poverty?
Since day traders work self-employed and don’t get an official pension, many of them also suffer from old-age poverty, especially those who haven’t saved up enough money.
In turn, those people will no longer be able to cover their basic expenses and may get into serious poverty once they retire.
Can day traders retire early?
Since most day traders are not able to make a fortune from what they are doing, most of them are also not able to retire early.
Instead, most day traders have to work until they are pretty old, even though many people who initially started in day trading will switch to a different field sooner or later.
Do day traders get a fixed or variable salary?
Day traders don’t get a fixed salary. In fact, most day traders work self-employed and don’t get a salary at all.
Instead, day traders only make money if they make profitable trades and this means that your income greatly varies over time.
Can you get rich as a day trader?
While a small fraction of day traders gets wealthy or even rich, most day traders will be barely able to make a living from what they are doing and may even have to quit their jobs sooner or later since they just run out of money.
Do day traders need a second job?
While you might not believe it, many day traders need a second job to pay their bills since they just front about their success within their circle of friends while the truth is that they don’t make any money or may even lose money from day trading.
Do you get continuous training as a day trader?
You will not get any training as a day trader.
Instead, you have to learn everything you need to know about day trading yourself.
Fortunately, you can get all this information for free and there are pretty good videos on YouTube that you can watch instead of buying expensive courses from gurus who just want to sell you stuff without caring about your success at all.
Are day traders organized in unions?
Day traders are not organized in unions and a day trading union would also not make any sense since most day traders work self-employed and can decide how much they want to work on their own without needing any support from unions whatsoever.
Do you get paid when you are sick as a day trader?
Since you work self-employed as a day trader, you will also not get paid when you are sick and can’t work.
In turn, you should factor this in, especially if you are sick quite often since you need a financial cushion for such situations to not run out of money.
Do day traders have a high level of responsibility?
While day traders don’t have a high level of responsibility for society, they have a high level of responsibility at work for their own life since bad decisions in trading can lead to catastrophic outcomes for your finances.
Can day traders work abroad?
Day traders can work from abroad whenever they want.
In fact, day traders are completely independent regarding where they want to work as long as they have an internet connection and trading financial instruments is allowed from a legal perspective.
Is it stressful to work as a day trader?
Working as a day trader is extremely stressful. Not only will you have to deal with huge swings in income, but you can also never be sure whether your investment strategy and your trades will work out in the long run and this constantly high level of insecurity can lead to serious mental and emotional issues.
Is it boring to work as a day trader?
Working as a day trader will never get boring.
There is just far too much information to process every day and instead of getting bored, you will rather get overwhelmed with all the things you have to do to outperform the competition.
Is being a day trader hard?
While working as a day trader does not involve heavy physical work, being a day trader can still be pretty demanding from an emotional perspective.
Consequently, you make sure to have a strong mindset before you decide for working in this field.
Are day traders at risk of burnout?
Since day traders often work long hours and have to deal with constant insecurity and high levels of stress, they are also at great risk of burnout.
In fact, day traders are at a much higher risk of burning out compared to the average worker and if you don’t have an extremely strong mindset, you should not go for a career in this field.
Is there a dress code for day traders?
Since you will work self-employed and also don’t have clients, you will also not have to worry about complying with dress codes at all as a day trader.
Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.
What kind of day traders are paid the most?
Your income as a day trader greatly depends on the performance of the trades you make.
Hence, if you really want to make good money as a day trader, you need to have insider knowledge (which is often not allowed by law) or you need to have special expertise not many other people have to stay successful with day trading in the long run.
What percentage of day traders are women?
While there are some women in the day trading industry, it is still dominated by men.
In fact, around 90% of day traders are men while only 10% are women.
However, as time goes by, this may change a little bit, even though women may still be too risk-averse to work in this field on scale.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a day trader?
While you don’t need a mentor to succeed as a day trader, it can still be helpful to have someone on your side in case you make mistakes or just have a bad run so that you don’t give up but rather push through those difficult periods.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a day trader?
Since you will work with your own money, you will also be personally responsible for making mistakes as a day trader.
In fact, mistakes on your side will just make you lose lots of money which you will never be able to get back, no matter how much you cry.
Do day traders have a high life expectancy?
Day traders don’t have a high life expectancy since they often have to deal with lots of stress and stress leads to all sorts of health issues in the long run.
Moreover, many day traders also have a pretty unhealthy lifestyle which also lowers their life expectancy quite a lot.
Do day traders suffer from sleeping problems?
Since day traders often work in the evening or even at nighttime since they have to watch market news in various regions of our planet, they will also often suffer from sleeping problems and those sleeping issues may turn into serious health issues in the long run.
What states are best for working as a day trader?
It doesn’t really matter in what state you work as a day trader as long as you choose one where taxes are rather low and you can keep a lot of your profits for yourself instead of having to give away lots of money to the state.
Who do day traders work with?
Day traders often work self-employed.
Consequently, they often don’t have lots of social interactions but rather work on their own.
In turn, many day traders also become socially isolated in the long run since they neglect their social contacts.
Is working as a day trader cool?
While working as a day trader is considered cool by many people out there, you should still not choose your career on the basis of what’s cool and what’s not.
Instead, you should rather choose your career based on hard facts that make you happy in the long run instead of your friends.
Can you start a side hustle as a day trader?
You can start many side hustles as a day trader.
In fact, you will be able to decide for yourself how much time you spend on trading and you can also start a YouTube channel or blog where you talk about day trading to make additional money.
Do you have to be creative as a day trader?
You don’t need to be creative as a day trader.
What’s much more important is that you have strong analytical skills and that you recognize patterns instead of relying on your intuition to make trades that may go wrong.
How employable are day traders?
The employability of day traders greatly depends on their qualifications.
Day traders with a degree and work experience can work for many different companies while day traders who don’t have those things will barely find a job at all.
Are day traders happy with their jobs?
Most day traders are not happy with what they are doing since they have to deal with a high level of insecurity all day long and also don’t make a lot of money in most cases.
Is working as a day trader exciting?
Working as a day trader can be pretty exciting.
In fact, you will never know how your trades turn out and no day will be the same.
Consequently, you will often have some level of excitement when placing trades and may also really enjoy the high level of insecurity, at least if you are a rather special type of person.
What are the pros and cons of working as a day trader?
If you still want to become a day trader, you may also want to have a look at the pros and cons of a day trader career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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