FAQ How Long Does it Take to Make a Stable Income from Trading?


Well-known member
Jul 12, 2008
3 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years... how fast can you learn and master yourself? nobody can guestimate that and everyone has a different story and time frame. what the real question should be is when does one call it quits if after say 3 years have past and the same mistakes are being made? anyone can be taught how to trade but unless you can master yourself all that knowledge is not very useful at all.


Active member
Oct 15, 2007
If you're genuinely interested, although it will still almost certainly take a fair amount of time, you'll find that the time flies by.

If it becomes a real slog at times then take a break of a few weeks and come back to it refreshed. Sometimes I went through phases of thinking that trading looked like the best thing ever and at other times I nearly gave up.
Likes: luckyd1976


Active member
Feb 13, 2008
If you're genuinely interested, although it will still almost certainly take a fair amount of time, you'll find that the time flies by.
Time flies by when your having fun. lol Yeah right. Not so much fun in THIS market but it definately has been a learning exp. But Man If I didnt truly enjoy this job, I dont think I would have stuck with it all these years.
Nov 27, 2008
Trading is easy

OK, im throwing in my two penneth.

Lots of what i am about to write here is in total opposition to many other posts, its ok i have thick skin so feel free to flame me!

So lets start by answering the question. After your initial training:


If you are not then:


Let me elaborate. Running a trading business (as an active trader) gives one a unique and enviable advantage to virtually all other businesses. The most glaring one is that you can paper trade. You can actually test your new found knowledge in the actual environment you will be operating in. This sounds simple but think about it. If you paper trade successfully for 3-6 months perhaps tripling or quadrupling your initial stakes, then what is going to change when you actually hit the dealing desks?...... Aside from an initial psychological transition that seems to occur for most traders when they first start to use real money. Your real trading should performance should follow paper exercises.

From experience the only thing you really gain over time is an appreciation of your investor peer groups and what effect they are having on the markets. Knowledge that some groups have large amounts of capital and invest over long periods, some have small amounts and trade over minutes or hours. Some even have large amounts over small periods. But I will say although there is advantage with this knowledge, you dont actually need it to be successful.

To be a successful trading newbie you need to get 3 very interrelated things right to guarantee success; Money management, Discipline/Psychology, A System.

Money management - Simply put you will have starting capital. Not all trades will win, in fact many successful traders I know personally lose more often then they win. But when they win typically their trades are returning 60-300% when they lose they are losing 10-20%. Paper trading teaches you the finer points of this fairly quickly. For example you will work out in a flash that putting all your capital into that "killer big win trades" will quickly see you shirtless. Controlled loss in trading is a beautiful thing, slippage is a pain in the **** that we all live with and goes with the territory. Once you understand you realise losses are just business expenses, all businesses have expenses. As a rule of thumb from the beginning I have never risked more then 10% of my total capital on any one trade. Money management is also informed by your psychology and trading system.

Discipline/Psychology - The number one killer in trading is your ego, you need to eliminate it completely before you start. Your fear will try and make you sell to early, your greed will make you sell too late, your impatience will make you take stupid trades. Your system should provide you with absolute concrete entry and exit points. i.e. BEFORE you enter a trade you will have predefined exactly at what price you will enter, what price you will leave if the trade goes against you, and what mechanism you are going to use to take profit. You can kill your ego/slay your demons by exercising discipline over your trading system. After you make your decisions your ego can kick/scream/cry/cower in the corner whatever but the rational you that made the trading choices before the risk began must prevail. I find keeping a trading journal helps. Before you make a trade write down clearly the reasons for doing so and refer back to it whenever Mr. Demon tells you to do anything. There is a good book called the disciplined trader which has lots if detail in it about this. I forget the author, i think it was published by the FT press though.

A system - This is the easy and fun bit. Whatever you might think about the markets they are actually incredibly simple. Almost anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together can learn how they work. If you dont i recommend reading "How to read the financial pages" to get quickly up to speed. Systems abound by name but you will find that 80 of almost all of them are just different combinations of fundemental and technical analysis. Alot of them work because they are all based on the same principles. Most of them are in fact ways of imparting all the information you need (which you could get for free) and then framing them into a kind of "putting it all together" framework for building a strategy. I am not condemning them (I know people that have done rather well with them). There are more esoteric systems, and there are some bloody marvellous ones, I read somewhere on this site about Mandlebrot fractal trading!!! There are also programme trading system that trade for you while you sleep, hang out in coffee bars, walk the dog etc but to be honest most of them only operate well in a decent trend which basically mean they keep you buying when the market is moving up and keep you selling when they are going down. Recently there have been some really fantastic hedge fund collapses because the market flipped and the computers got confused. Hopefully they are all set to sell at the moment. Personally I think you cant beat decent technical and fundemental skills. And its not that hard to learn enough to build a system. I mainly trade options on equities and indices short to middle term. Heres the simple system i used 10 years ago and have been building on since:

First work out WHAT to trade.

In equities you want very highly liquid stocks with the most upside potential. In terms of working out which ones are good you can spend hours/days pouring through analysis or you could just compare them on a chart. Here's a way to find the most potentially good stocks from the thousands available in about 10 minutes. I do something (slightly more sophisticated then this) about once a month, i think you could use yahoo charts for this:

Compare the major indices i.e. FTSE 100 and 250 over a period of about 1 year and also around 6 months. Which one has moved higher? OK take the one that has moved higher and compare the sectors in the index over the same time frames and select the top 2 or 3 that have moved higher. In those sectors compare all the stocks and select the top 3 that have moved higher. You now have a list of between 6 to 9 stocks that are of most interest to the investors that have done all that research for you. The likely hood is these stocks experience the highest volume of trades. As active traders we LOVE highly liquid stocks.

Then work out HOW to trade, heres a basic minimal syllabus you need to know before you start.

> Yields - Yields paint a picture and to be honest one can trade on this one piece of fundamental knowledge successfully, i did for years. When the yield of an index or equity is low (less then about 2.8 to 3%) the community believe that the equity is going to value up in the future. Why else would you buy a relatively risky investment at 3%! If the yield is high (4-5%+) the reverse is true. Looking at some stocks in the FTSE 100 at the moment yields are running as high as 10-20% (mainly financials) what a fantastic investment!!?? Do the community actually think the dividend will pay that or will the yield be adjusted down? At the moment the yield is confirming a bear trend.

Technicals (in order of importance)
> Price action, trend lines, support and resistance levels - Learn how trend lines work and how to apply them long, medium and short term. These will help you identify the prevailing trend. There are two main types of trendline supply and demand trendlines. NEVER bet in the opposite direction of the trend (see my signature). Contrarian trading is fickle/difficult. Dont do it. Know where intrinsic support and resistance levels are. Trade when prices are closest to main support/resistance and trendlines. You will notice that volume increases on this important areas becuase that is also when most other people are trading.

> Volume - Next most import element after price action and trendlines. Volume tells you how much SENTIMENT there is for the current trend as volume for a trend wanes all too often the trend will reverse as the previaling team (bulls or bears) runs out of allies. As the team take their profits the price action will reverse.

>Indicators, oscillators and chart patterns - these are third in the list and really just inform the other two to help you arrive at trading decision. Personally I would never trade on these in isolation. There are about 10 useful chart patterns, favourites are double/triple tops/bottoms and head and shoulders patterns, these are powerful reversal patterns. The rest are not so accurate and usually confirm the current price action such as triangles, wedges and pendants. Dont get to wrapped up in these. There is an oscillator and indicator for every day of the year like the RSI, stochastic, and momentum indicators, they literally run into hundreds. I have invented a few of my own. Most modern software comes with 20-30 built in. In reality these are just different views on the price action. I use 3: RSI, Momentum, and MACD. RSI gives off pretty good reversal signals when negative divergence occurs (peaks and troughs start moving in the opposite direction to the price action). Momentum is pretty good a s an early warnign reversal in sentiment and fires just before RSI...usually. you should have MACD cos everyone else has and many people including inst investors make BIG trading decisions on it so you need to know when they do.

Placing the trade (use with pragmatism)

Assuming you agree that trends exist, as above, then you need to find a good entry point. A trend is comprised of a series of either rising or falling peaks and troughs. Confirmation of the trend is given when a new high or low is breached.

Draw your trendlines and decide what term you are investing over. If you are medium term then you probably want to base your trade on around 6 months (be pragmatic). When the price action gets close to your trendline consider moving in. Look at volume and indicators to fine tune your entry point. Set your stop just outside the trendline, this is your LOSS exit point. When this point is reached and breached your going to exist. Take a view of when you are going to exit, are you in it for one leg of a peak or trough or are you going to ride you multiple ones to the very bottom of the the trend. This is your PROFIT exit point.

Place your trade (not using more then 10% of your capital) and whatever happens exercise you entry and exit strategy and ignore the little demon dudes. At the end of this process you will make a gain or a loss.

OK, thats it, simple i know but something like this should form the basis of a manual trading system, but practised and developed on and used affectively it will beat most programme systems hands down.

Just a note on duration of trades. This might be an unpopular view but I would would not recommend day trading to a newbie EVER. If you want to to sit and stare at a flashing screen all day make lots of trading decisions, monitoring lots of devices and instruments then fine, but day trading just teaches newbies how to over trade. The techniques above are in fact fractal (just like price action itself) and should work over most time frames. I mostly trade over periods lasting a week to a few months now. I do most fundamental analysis once a month for about 3 hours on a Sunday morning with a nice cup of coffee, and spend 30 minutes a day reviewing my positions. I take good consistent profits for little more than a part time job. I'm almost getting to the stage where I can live off it. I dont know anyone that does that day trading except a friend that works for proprietary trading house and he has every tool in the book and spreads tighter then a nats **** that you dont have. He does well which is good, cos hes going to have to pay for a new heart...

Wow, that was longer then expected it to be. Happy trading anyway newbie dudes. I hope you do well in your new career. BTW I havent proof read this so if it doesn't make sense I apologies in advance. Feel free to comment message me off the thread to clarify anything.

Likes: BSD and 0007
Oct 13, 2004
Brilliant post ! Overlong but brilliant :)

The only part I do not agree with (being a day trader myself) is your comment:

'....but I would would not recommend day trading to a newbie EVER. If you want to to sit and stare at a flashing screen all day make lots of trading decisions, monitoring lots of devices and instruments then fine, but day trading just teaches newbies how to over trade'

I actually would advise a newbie to try daytrading even if it isn't the way they want to trade in the long run. The reason for this is that trying a daytrading spell would teach them all they need to know about handling emotions and the value of real money quickly. Demo trading is fine and a useful tool but it is just that, a demo. A 'pretend' trade is absolutely nothing like a real trade, pretend trades create pretend emotions and pretend wins or losses.

I don't care how good a course, system, indicator, method or Trading Guru they prefer to use or be advised by, nothing teaches you more about handling emotion quicker than day trading. The best trading teacher in the world cannot possibly describe or explain exactly how you are going to react to your own emotions.

But of course I would advise day trading for real money with a very small bank indeed just to give the student a taste of real trading and real emotion. They will instantly know how they feel and react and can then learn from their own personality and then learn to trade accordingly.

I would advise this quite early on and then the student can plan the way forward, some take to day trading and are comfortable and others will be scared sh*tless ! Either way will define the direction you should be putting your energies in and you can then train in the style that suits your personality.

I just feel that other longer styles of trading can take too long for a newbie to learn about emotions and this can become counter productive. A newbie needs to learn about emotion quickly. Fear and greed need to be understood early on too as without experiencing these then they cannot possibly plan their trading education.

Just my opinion guys but once again thanks to risk_monkey for such an enjoyable post !
Likes: BSD
Apr 10, 2004
Is there a consensus on whether one timeframe is easier to make a profit on than others e.g. is it easier to make money trading on a daily basis than hourly? I've seen some forum comments advising beginners to get consistent trading daily before trying intra-day trading. Any thoughts?
Oct 13, 2004
I do not think that any timeframe is easier than another, both are difficult until you find your own style and methodology. The only difference being is that a shorter timeframe can bring your TP (take profit) sooner in many cases.

For me daily/weekly trading is difficult because I simply do not have the patience to wait but I would guess while I take lots of small profits regularly (daily) a weekly trader for instance may take alot more profit per trade but only make a few trades per week or month.

Weekly and monthly trading is often regarded as less stressful and I am led to believe that the profits can be quite substantial (and so also losses :)). Of course generally when bigger profits are made then a bigger stop loss is in order and this in itself requires a bigger bank.

Trading multiple trades per day may require very small stop losses and a very small bank if traded via a spreadbetting company (obviously depending on your style of trading) and if you are prepared to make small profits regularly then it can allow you to experience trading profitably if you have little cash to begin with.

I know a few traders who will only consider weekly or monthly trading, their view goes something like this regarding timeframes :
'there are monthly, daily, 4 hourly, hourly and the rest are suicide.....'
Meaning 30 minute, 15 minute, 5 minute and 1 minute are just too stressful and you're likely to have a cardiac !

Now whilst I understand where they are coming from using the smaller time frames can often mean that by 11.00 am you can be finished for the day. For example, if your target is something like 20 pips per day then it is quite often the case that you can achieve this before lunch and you're finished for the day ! I do not find this stressful.

And if you are disciplined and accept your losses (your business expenses) then again you are sometimes finished before lunch. The problem is if you do not accept your business expenses (your losses) and then continue to trade the rest of the day trying to recoup your 'expenses'. This discipline is what separates professional traders from beginners.

If your methology is proven and you have confidence in it then you will accept your losses and tomorrow is another day.

So, weekly/monthly traders will endorse the way they trade and maybe say that 5 minute time frames are too stressful and not enough payback but I would only agree if you traded 5 minute charts all day and every day. In reality most 5 or 10 minute traders trade these time frames for a few hours max and then the rest of the day is free.

For me, trading weekly or monthly would be stressful as I would never 'turn off', at least most days by 12.00/1.00 I am finished win or lose and start the next day.

Having said that I know a few weekly and monthly traders and they are completely relaxed and earn very tidy sums of money !

I suppose it is all about our different types of personality and styles of trading, we are all different and we will all find the style that suits us. And as long as we remain profitable in the long term then there is no right or wrong way.

The only wrong way is long term losses and the only right way is long term consistant profit.

And of course to be happy !

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Likes: BSD
Nov 30, 2008
Don't worry about having to spend 3 to 5 years being educated, with a 95% failure rate most new accounts are blown out in 3 to 6 months!
Dec 14, 2008
how long 'till you're good.

It's odd that the place where it it looks like I'm supposed to answer your question is already full of text. Where's my wife when I need somebody with a little sense! I'm probably screwing this post up, but anyway...

The question, in case I'm not in the right box or whatever, is "How long does it take to make a stable income from trading?"

If you want to develop the ability to day-trade a naked long or short position in something like the ES, it will take something like 5 years, assuming you have the exceedingly rare combination of talents necessary to do this difficult work in the first place...

Almost nobody has the right stuff. The talent combo includes nerves of steel, a fair degree of intelligence, the ability to sustain purpose for many discouraging frustrating years, the time and money to trade every day of the week, (not just 2 or 3 days per week).... It's very rare to find a person who's got all this.

But they do exist!

I have a close friend who has made his living day-traded for over 25 years. He does it at home on his computer... he started before there were computers. He started with options, but trades mainly e-minis now.

It took him 5 years before he could keep from giving back all the money that he had made. He's a quadriplegic and says that trading the markets has been a big help to his overall life. The fact is, people who have almost no ability to move their arms and no movement at all of their legs (such as my friend) usually don't live nearly as long as he has, and nothing close to as long as he will continue to live.

His passion for trading has kept him out of the clutches of depression and despair, the things that he tells me make quadriplegics give up on life. He has seen it happen.

Anyway, people who make a good living day-trading the markets do exist. For me, knowing that fact for myself, knowing it beyond the shadow of a doubt was essential to my sticking with it for 3 or 4 years. But it wasn't enough.

I didn't start out with all the necessary talents. To this day, when I put on a leveraged day trade, my heart literally pounds as my concentration and IQ circle the drain of adrenalin. It's unlikely that you will be as bad off as I am in this regard, but steady nerves are essential. I was never able to "practice" my way out of my debilitating fear response.


If you find a strategy that is based upon something more predictable than the minute-by-minute rise and fall of market prices, it may take less time to stabilize and start making a living. At least you won't need nerves of steel, that much I know for sure.

But frankly, I'm not sure about the time factor for this type of trading because I don't personally know anybody who's actually made a stable living by trading this way. Perhaps I don't get out much.

I'm having some promising results in recent years, but it's still too early to know if what I'm doing now will keep working for any decent length of time.

But without a doubt, if you start trading all starry-eyed and green, you will lose money fast -- unless you have a close friend who already trades successfully for a living. And even then, he's got to let you watch his every move and trade along with him for years. Or if you know of a web site where there's a pro trader who has taught a trusted friend of yours to make a living, then go there.

But don't get out there by yourself and think you're going to learn to make a living before you lose every cent in your account. You won't. And if you're trading a leveraged vehicle like the ES, you'll be fortunate to lose only the money in your account and not a whole lot more.

If you're a book reader, you'll soon start buying books, most of which are written by well-meaning guys who can't trade for a living themselves. They have decent basic advice, a lot of them, but the bottom line is, if anyone has a clever and simple trading strategy that makes good money, it will only continue to make money while it's unknown. If you tell anybody where the gold is, you've got a stampede like California in 1949... The first 10 scruffy looking guys (as well as the Levi kids, selling blue jeans) make 99 percent of the money. It's always like that with money that appears to be easy to make.

So you've got this one basic choice to make right away. You can either put in the 5 years that it takes to learn to day-trade the simple long and short positions, or you can spend your time searching and trying to come up with something that very few people know about (or are willing to study hard enough to learn about).

I'm taking the second rout because I've admitted to myself that I don't have the kind of unflappable nervous system it takes to trade like my dear, tougher than nails quadriplegic friend.

Really, I wish everybody could meet this great guy.

But here are some suggestions that may be helpful if you decide to head in the same direction I'm going:

Try to find something that seems like a terrible idea when you first think of it. For example, everybody is "trend trading" long positions. What would these people refuse to even think about doing? Hmmm. How about buying something in free fall?

"Never try to catch a falling knife!" This makes intuitive sense.

People who started trading yesterday have already heard it. You never met 'em before but they will look you square in the eye and repeat their solemn admonition as if they were channeling Gann.

And for this reason alone it's fertile ground. You should study it in every variation you can dream up or read about. Trust me on this.

Here's another example: A lot of retail traders think that options (beyond buying them like stocks) are too complex to bother with. And they lose value over time. It's obviously safer to buy stocks, right? Why bother with all that reading, all that math, after all "it's not the vehicle that you trade, it's how good a trader you are," right?

Lots of people think like this, so the rules of the Universe tell us that the study of Options is apt to give you an edge.

Here's another example: Does your trading platform make it easy for you to trade pairs? No. Do you even know what pairs trading is? This should tell you something.

Yeah. If there were a huge demand for pairs from retail traders, these Brokers would all offer the latest pairs trading platforms. But they don't. That means pairs trading may give you at least a temporary advantage. It certainly gave the institutional traders who started it a huge advantage.

A great trader, Erlanger, (hope I spelled that right) once wrote that his best trades made him feel like he was putting his head in a lion's mouth. That says it all.

If a trading strategy seems easy, it's less likely to make money than something counterintuitive, frightening, and obviously dangerous... because if it looks easy, everybody is going to be tempted, including me and you.

So if you choose to trade in the simplest way, with simple long and short positions, with or without some leverage... intending to buy low and sell high or vice-versa, you're going to have to forget finding a "secret" of any kind, and just go ahead spend five or so years developing yourself into something rare.

If your strategy itself isn't radically odd and vanishingly rare, you've got to become an outlier yourself. You've got to develop a skill that takes years to even hope to learn, a skill that requires a rare aggregate of somewhat unrelated talents, and decent horde of cash that you will burn through over a period of several years before you start breaking even.

If anyone can do it the way my friend trades, you can! If you doubt it, don't even try.

Instead, study your head off and read everything you can get your hands on, paper-trade many accounts using different strategies, and always try out new counterintuitive things (in paper accounts) that seem like too much trouble to learn, or too stupid to waste time with, or just the opposite of what your investment councilor told you.

Seriously guys,
Oct 11, 2006
I have probably spent 3 years to get to where I am now, the first year I was only looking at trading every now and then. I then wasted a year and a half trying to get Vantagepoint to work. I developed my own successful system about 7 or 8 months ago but then struggled to get the discipline to follow it for another month or two. I suppose if I had been given a successful system to start with I would have got here a lot quicker, however the discipline aspect cant be understated, its definitely not as easy as I thought but it can be done.
Apr 16, 2009
hi there !!

It depends solely on the trader as how he learns to trade and how quickly he is understanding the market trends and movements.

I think the slower the better coz its matter of money.....


Active member
Mar 10, 2008
I'm not sure how long it will take, I am patient and in no hurry as earning a living, elsewhere, although would be nice to be able to trade full-time within 5yr time frame, to enable a little bit more freedom from the office and the 9 to 5.

All I do no for sure, is that I have a lot more chance of becoming profitable in the long-term with the help of this site and threads by the likes of Mr.Charts,Trader_Dante and all the other people who post a common sense view and share their techniques.
Oct 25, 2008
Making a Living from Trading

How long does it take to make a living from trading? I think that definately depends on the individual trader and on his/her style of play. I think it would take a trader atleast 1-2 years before they can hold their own and perhaps a little longer before they can sustain themselves through trading.

The size of capital is also an important factor. Even with a poor trading edge, a trader could probably make a living with a $100,000 capital. Not so much with a trader that starts out with $5,000.

Ultimately, the answers boils down to how fast a trader can develop their trading edge (along with the necessary capital requirement). For a good article on how to find your trading edge check out:
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