Is it possible to trade with a full time job? Most certainly yes, but challenges will arise for those that want to devote their limited time to two full time professions. In this article, I am going to address the debate over whether or not you can be a successful trader with a full time job or not. I will also provide 5 tips for making the most out of your trading while still working your full time job.
To start out this article, I’ll give a little background on my personal experiences in trading whilst working a full time job. When I first got involved in trading, I was a full time college student working a full time job who also wanted to become a full time trader. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that there’s 3 “full-times” here, which should come down to about 120 hours per week, or with a 5 day work week that’s 24 hours of work per day and even I need a little sleep.
As a newer trader, it can be extremely difficult to balance a full time job with trading, but still it isn’t impossible. Remember whenever you take on a new endeavor, it is going to require a great amount of time and attention to learn, practice, and gain the experience necessary to succeed. Trading is certainly no different, and I recall staying up late at night reading books, taking courses, watching videos, and posting questions online.
So after personally going through working full time and learning how to trade, I know it certainly is possible but will not work for everyone. It is going to require a great amount of dedication and planning to successfully manage your personal life, work life, and trading life all in one day.
There are 5 tips that I would like to share with you to try and make this experience as efficient and effective as it possibly can be:
(1) Choose a market that fits around your work hours.
I personally started out day trading in the stock market, which looking back was a poor decision given my situation of having 3 “full times”. The stock market is only open for about 30 hours a week, so if you aren’t available to trade during these hours well then you’re out of luck.
A good choice for those who have time constraints due to a full-time job would be the Forex or Futures market. The best choice is Forex, which is basically a “24 hour” market and will let people with virtually any work schedule get some screen time whilst the market is open. Remember that even though Forex is a 24 hour market, there are times with much higher trading volume and higher liquidity, which ideally are the times you want to be able to trade.
(2) Choose a trading style that gives you enough time to place and manage your trades.
Again I personally started out day trading, which once again was a poor decision looking back on it from a time perspective. Swing trading is much less time intensive than day trading. I’ve found that putting in a few hours to do research and then outlining your trades is the extent of time you will need to dedicate for swing trading. Plan on spending about 4-5 hours per week on swing trading, whilst with day trading you usually will spend 25 hours or more per week.
Swing trading is also great because it allows the flexibility of setting OCO orders and leaving the computer to place your trades while you are off at work. This is a critical tool for those working full time, so if you aren’t already using OCO limit orders definitely consider giving them a try.
(3) Set aside a certain day of the week or time of day that you are going to dedicate to your trading activities and learning.
If you’re like me and insist on starting out in a market that is only open a few hours a week and trading with a style that requires a great amount of time like day trading, then consider requesting a fixed day off every week from your full time job that you can dedicate to trading. I always requested off Tuesdays and Thursdays and spent these days trading all day long. This worked quite well since I could only trade for a few hours a day on other days of the week.
On a side note, if you do choose this, consider not making Fridays your “trading day” simply because in most markets, Fridays have much lower volume and less liquidity.
(4) Check and see if your broker offers a mobile app or browser based platform
I personally always trade on a desktop based platform. I don’t like using mobile based platforms or web based platforms because they usually are very limited in their functionality. However, if you’re in a pinch and want to check out your positions or place an order, mobile based platforms and web based platforms can be just the trick and the best part is you can access them while you’re on the go. So if you are going to try trading whilst working a full time job, see if you are able to check in from time to time via a web based platform or better yet on a smartphone.
(5) Don’t get sucked into an automatic trading robot to trade for you whilst you are at work, school, or on the golf course.
I luckily never got fully sucked into this, but boy oh boy was I tempted at times. There are claims all over the internet of automatic trading computers that can place trades and think for you whilst you’re off at school, work, or on the golf course. I don’t have any experience with them, but from the people I have talked to who have tried them out they are something you absolutely must avoid.
I mention this because I know a lot of people online get sucked into false promises, and from what it sounds like a lot of these trading robots offer a whole lot of false hope. If you really want to learn how to trade and be successful in the markets, you have to put in the time one way or another to learn about how the markets work and to gain enough experience to be successful. There’s no substitute in the trading world for hard work and experience.
Whilst these 5 tips won’t make trading with a full time job completely painless, they certainly will help remove some of the added strain. Either way, for a while you will be in for a lot of hard work and nights with less sleep than you want, but the payoff of learning how to be a successful trader can certainly be worth the time and effort.
Brendan Egan can be contacted at 123LearntoTrade