Day Trading: The Basics And How To Get Started

In the past, only those employed by significant financial institutions, brokerages, and trading houses could actively trade in the stock market. However, with the advent of online trading and the rapid dissemination of news, the playing field – or, rather, the trading field – has become more level. User-friendly trading apps and commission-free services like Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, and Charles Schwab have made it easier than ever for retail investors to try their hand at trading like the pros.

While day trading can be a profitable career path if approached correctly, it can be challenging for beginners, especially those without a well-thought-out strategy. It’s important to note that even experienced day traders can encounter rough patches and suffer losses.

So, what exactly is day trading, and how does it work?


  • Day traders buy and sell stocks or other assets during the trading day in order to profit from the rapid fluctuations in prices.
  • Day trading employs a wide variety of techniques and strategies to capitalize on these perceived market inefficiencies.
  • Day trading is often informed by technical analysis of price movements and requires a high degree of self-discipline and objectivity.

What Is Day Trading?

The Basics of Day Trading

Day trading involves purchasing and selling a batch of securities within a day, or even within seconds, to exploit the inevitable up-and-down price movements that occur during a trading session. Unlike traditional investing, day trading has nothing to do with holding onto investments for an extended period. This method is most common in the stock markets and on the foreign exchange (forex), where traders take advantage of fluctuations in currency values.

Typically, day traders are well-educated in the nuances of trading and have significant financial resources. Some of them take additional risks by using leverage to increase the size of their positions. 

Day traders closely monitor events that can cause short-term market fluctuations. One popular technique is trading based on the news, which includes scheduled announcements like the release of economic statistics, corporate earnings, or interest rate changes.

These events are subject to market expectations and psychology, meaning markets can react when those expectations are not met or exceeded, often resulting in sudden and significant moves that can greatly benefit day traders.

Similar to other forms of day trading, silver trading today is a popular way to capitalize on the short-term price fluctuations of silver. Trading silver online has become increasingly popular due to the ease of access to online trading platforms and the ability to buy and sell within seconds.

For traders looking to invest in commodities, silver offers an alternative to gold that can provide a similar level of volatility and profitability.

Day traders use numerous intraday strategies. These strategies include:

  • Scalping: The primary objective of this approach is to reap small but multiple profits from the rapid changes in prices that take place throughout the day.
  • Range trading: Traders utilizing this method base their buy and sell decisions on predetermined support and resistance levels in prices.
  • News-based trading: Traders using this tactic take advantage of the increased market volatility that often arises from news events.
  • High-frequency trading (HTF): These techniques involve using advanced algorithms to capitalize on small or temporary market inefficiencies.

Why Day Trading Is Controversial

The controversy surrounding day trading stems from its potential for profits, which is often debated on Wall Street. Unfortunately, internet scams have led amateurs to believe that massive returns can be obtained in a short amount of time. Some individuals also engage in day trading without the necessary knowledge, but there are still some who have managed to make a successful living despite the inherent risks involve

Professional money managers and financial advisors generally avoid day trading due to the belief that the risks far outweigh the potential rewards. Additionally, economists and financial practitioners argue that active trading strategies, in general, tend to underperform passive index strategies, particularly when fees and taxes are considered.

While it is possible to make a profit from day trading, the success rate is low due to the risk involved and the requisite level of skill. Moreover, luck and timing also play a significant role, and even the most experienced day trader can be adversely affected by a stroke of bad luck.

online gold trading and silver trading are two attractive options for day traders looking to capitalize on short-term price fluctuations. However, traders must possess a high level of financial resources and knowledge to engage in this type of trading. Trading based on news events is a popular strategy, but it also carries a significant level of risk. Therefore, traders must be prepared to deal with sudden market movements and fluctuations in commodity prices.

How Does a Day Trader Get Started?

Day trading is a profession for individuals who engage in it as a means of earning a living. These traders are usually experienced in the field and possess a wealth of knowledge about the marketplace. If you’re interested in becoming a successful day trader, here are some prerequisites you need to consider.

Marketplace Knowledge and Experience

Day trading without adequate knowledge of market fundamentals usually results in losses. A solid understanding of technical analysis and chart reading is an excellent foundation, but charts can be misleading without an in-depth understanding of market conditions and its unique risks. It’s essential to conduct your research and comprehend the nuances of the products you trade.

Sufficient Capital

Successful day traders utilize risk capital they can afford to lose. This strategy protects them from financial devastation and eliminates emotional decision-making. Intraday price movements can be in pennies or fractions of a cent, making it necessary to have a large amount of capital to capitalize effectively. Adequate cash is also required for day traders who intend to leverage margin accounts as volatile market swings can trigger substantial margin calls on short notice.

Day Trading Strategies

Day trading is a highly competitive field where traders aim to gain an advantage over the market. To achieve this, they adopt various trading strategies such as swing trading, arbitrage, and trading news. The primary goal of these strategies is to generate consistent profits while minimizing losses.

Online gold trading today is one of the most popular methods of investment, and it has attracted many traders to the lucrative world of day trading. While gold trading investment can take various forms, online trading is fast becoming the preferred choice due to its convenience and accessibility. Dubai is a major hub for gold trading, and many investors choose to invest in the precious metal through a gold trading company in Dubai.

However, it is essential to follow some basic rules of day trading to succeed in the market. One should be careful while selecting trading choices and analyze them thoroughly. It’s also important to plan entry and exit points beforehand and adhere to them strictly. Additionally, identifying patterns in the trading activities of selected choices in advance can be helpful in making informed decisions.

By following these basic principles, day traders can gain an edge in the market and increase their chances of success. It requires dedication and discipline, but the rewards can be significant. With consistent profits, day traders can achieve financial stability and make a profitable career out of day trading.

Strategy Breakdown
Swing TradingHighHigh
Trading NewsMediumMedium


Discipline is a critical factor in the success of day traders. Unfortunately, many traders end up losing money because they don’t follow their predetermined criteria for making trades. It’s crucial to “plan the trade and trade the plan” to achieve success in day trading.

Day traders rely heavily on market volatility to make a profit. They typically find stocks attractive if they exhibit a lot of movement throughout the day. This movement can be due to several factors, including earnings reports, investor sentiment, or general economic or company news.

High liquidity is also an essential factor for day traders when selecting stocks. This feature provides them with the flexibility to alter their position without significantly affecting the stock’s price. If the stock’s price moves higher, traders may take a buy position, while a move in the opposite direction may prompt them to sell short and benefit from the price decline.

Day traders tend to focus on stocks that exhibit a lot of movement, regardless of the technique they use. They look for stocks that move significantly to take advantage of price fluctuations and maximize their profits.

Who Makes a Living by Day Trading?

There are two primary divisions of professional day traders: those who work alone, and/or those who work for a larger institution.

Most day traders who trade for a living work for large players like hedge funds and the proprietary trading desks of banks and financial institutions. These traders have an advantage because they have access to resources such as direct lines to counterparties, a trading desk, large amounts of capital and leverage, and expensive analytical software.

These traders are typically looking for easy profits from arbitrage opportunities and news events. Their resources allow them to capitalize on these less risky day trades before individual traders can react.

The solo day Traders

Individual day traders frequently operate as independent traders, either trading their own funds or those of others. While they may not have access to a dedicated trading desk, they often have close relationships with brokers, given their considerable commission expenses and access to various resources. Despite this, their resources are limited, making it challenging to compete directly with institutional traders.

As a result, these traders are required to take on more significant risks to achieve their objectives. They usually engage in technical analysis and swing trades, utilizing leverage to capitalize on small price movements in highly liquid stocks to generate satisfactory profits.

The profession of day trading is divided into two primary categories: those who work independently and those who work for a larger institution. Those who trade for a living under the employment of hedge funds and proprietary trading desks of banks and financial institutions have a significant advantage. They have access to a trading desk, direct lines to counterparties, large capital and leverage, and costly analytical software. These resources help them to earn easy profits by taking advantage of arbitrage opportunities and news events. This type of trading usually occurs before individual traders can respond to the situation, providing them with an edge over others in the market.

The Differences between Institutional and Solo Day Traders

Institutional traders have access to substantial resources, including a wide variety of trading instruments, analytical tools, and in-house research teams. They use these resources to execute high volume trades and generate returns for their clients or organizations. On the other hand, solo day traders often rely on technical analysis and swing trades to turn a profit on small price fluctuations in liquid markets. They may use leverage to increase their position size, thereby increasing potential returns, but also elevating risk levels. Despite these disparities, both institutional and solo day traders share a common objective of capitalizing on market movements to generate returns.

Risks Involved in Solo Day Trading

Solo day traders face unique risks when engaging in this form of trading, including online gold trading today and silver trading today. For example, the use of leverage can magnify the potential losses incurred in the event of market downturns. Furthermore, individual traders lack access to the vast resources available to institutional traders, making it challenging to execute trades at the same speed and volume. Additionally, solo day traders are more likely to make mistakes due to their limited resources, which could have significant consequences. Despite these challenges, many solo day traders continue to engage in the activity, capitalizing on their knowledge and experience to generate satisfactory returns.

The risks associated with solo day trading are not unique to online gold trading today and silver trading today, but apply to all types of day trading. However, the highly volatile nature of the precious metals market can add an extra layer of complexity and risk to the already challenging activity of day trading. Solo day traders who are interested in trading gold or silver online should take the time to educate themselves on the market and its unique features, as well as develop a sound trading strategy that takes into account the potential risks and rewards. With the right approach and a healthy dose of caution, solo day traders can succeed in the world of online gold and silver trading.

Day trading demands access to some of the most complex financial services and instruments in the marketplace. Day traders typically require all of the following:

Access to a Trading Desk

Typically, access to a trading desk is limited to traders working for larger institutions or managing significant amounts of money. These traders require instantaneous order execution, which is a critical aspect of their trading strategies. The trading or dealing desk offers them the ability to execute their trades instantly. For instance, in the case of an acquisition announcement, day traders who analyze merger arbitrage can place their orders before the rest of the market can take advantage of the price differential, which can be extremely advantageous.

Multiple News Sources

Having access to multiple news sources is crucial, as it presents numerous opportunities for individuals. In order to stay informed about significant events, being the first to receive the news is crucial. In a typical trading room, professionals have access to leading newswires, continuous news coverage from various organizations, and software that regularly scans news sources for noteworthy stories. By having access to these resources, individuals can remain up-to-date on important information, making informed decisions in their respective fields.

Analytical Software

Day traders heavily rely on trading software, particularly those who use technical indicators or swing trades. While news is still a factor, software plays a vital role in their trading strategies. These software programs are commonly characterized by the following features:

  1. Automatic pattern recognition, which identifies technical indicators such as flags and channels, or even complex indicators like Elliott Wave patterns.
  1. Genetic and neural applications, which use neural networks and genetic algorithms to refine trading systems and provide more precise predictions of future price movements.
  1. Broker integration, where certain applications can interface directly with the brokerage. This results in immediate and even automatic execution of trades, removing emotions from trading and enhancing execution times.
  1. Backtesting, which allows traders to evaluate how a specific strategy would have performed in the past, making it possible to predict how it will perform in the future. However, it is essential to remember that past performance is not always indicative of future outcomes.

Combined, these tools provide traders with an edge over the rest of the marketplace.

Risks of Day Trading

Day trading can be overwhelming for the average investor due to the numerous risks involved. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) outlines some of the dangers associated with day trading, which we have summarized below:

  • Expect significant financial losses: Day traders typically suffer substantial financial losses in the first few months of trading, and a significant number of them never make a profit.
  • Day trading is a highly stressful full-time job: Monitoring multiple ticker quotes and price fluctuations to spot fleeting market trends necessitates intense concentration.
  • Day traders depend heavily on borrowed funds: Day-trading strategies employ leverage using borrowed money to generate profits. Numerous day traders lose all of their personal funds and end up in debt.
  • Avoid claims of effortless profits: Beware of hot tips and expert advice from newsletters and websites that cater to day traders. Remember that educational seminars and classes about day trading may not provide an objective perspective.

Should You Start Day Trading?

If you are determined to pursue day trading as a career, there are several important steps that you should consider before you begin. Firstly, it is essential to have some knowledge about the trading world and a good understanding of your risk tolerance, available capital, and trading goals.

In addition, you must be willing to invest the necessary time and effort to practice and perfect your trading strategies. Starting small with a few stocks is recommended to avoid overwhelming yourself, complicating your trading strategy, and suffering significant losses.

It is also important to remain calm and avoid emotional trading decisions that could lead you astray from your initial plan. By adhering to these straightforward guidelines, you may be able to establish a sustainable career in day trading.

Day Trading Example

Online gold trading today and silver trading today are popular ways for traders to invest their money, but day trading can also be a lucrative opportunity for those who are willing to take the risk. Day trading involves buying and selling a stock within a single day, with the goal of taking advantage of market trends and making a profit.

For example, a day trader might conduct a technical analysis of a company listed on the Nasdaq 100, like Intuitive Sciences Inc. (ISI). If the analysis shows that when the NASDAQ is up by more than 0.4%, ISI’s stock price typically increases by at least 0.6%, the day trader might anticipate that today will be one of those days.

The trader would then purchase 1,000 shares of ISI at the opening of the market and wait for the stock to reach a specific price point, usually a 0.6% increase. As soon as ISI hits that mark, the trader would immediately sell their entire holding, completing a day trade.

It’s important to note that the day trader’s decision to buy and sell ISI has nothing to do with the company’s long-term investment potential. Instead, the trader is taking advantage of a trend.

However, there is always a risk involved with day trading. If the trade doesn’t go as planned and ISI’s stock price drops by 0.8% instead, the day trader would still sell their holding, but would incur a loss.

Overall, day trading can be a profitable endeavor for those who are willing to put in the effort to stay up to date on market trends and make informed decisions in a rapidly changing environment. But it’s important to remember that it’s also a risky venture, and traders must remain vigilant and take caution with their investments.

How Do I Get Started Day Trading?

Are you interested in day trading? A crucial element of a successful day trader is a solid understanding of technical analysis. This involves the observation and plotting of patterns in stock price and volume movements. By examining the long-term trend, a trader can predict how a stock may behave in the immediate future. While paper and pencil were once used for this analysis, software packages are now available to create charts and graphs more efficiently.

In addition to technical analysis, a day trader must also have a plan in place. This includes identifying which stocks to trade and setting acceptable price points for buying and selling. Impulse purchases can be disastrous for a day trader, so having a well-thought-out plan is essential.

To execute this plan, a fully equipped trading desk is a must. This desk should include news services, real-time data, and brokerage services. If a trader decides to trade on margin, a large cash deposit with the broker is necessary. However, this carries a high risk for beginners and is not recommended.

It’s better to start small with whatever amount of cash you can afford to lose. With discipline and a well-defined plan, a novice day trader can eventually become successful.

What Is the First Rule of Day Trading?

The primary guideline for day trading is to avoid retaining a position when the market closes. Irrespective of whether the trade turns out to be a success or failure, it is advisable to sell out.

Day traders usually follow the practice of not keeping a losing trade open overnight, hoping to recover some or all of the losses. This is because brokers necessitate more capital for trades that remain open overnight.

The rationale behind this requirement is reasonable. An individual’s stock holdings can fluctuate in response to overnight news, which can result in larger trading losses.

Thus, it is crucial to abide by the first rule of day trading to avoid suffering significant losses in trading.

What Are the Margin Requirements for Day Traders?

Day traders are subject to specific margin requirements set forth by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). As per FINRA’s regulations, pattern day traders must maintain a minimum equity requirement of $25,000. This amount must be deposited into the trader’s account before engaging in any day-trading activities and must be maintained at all times. Adhering to these regulations is essential for day traders to avoid penalties and fines.

What Is Day Trading’s Buying Power?

Day trading’s buying power pertains to the investor’s overall available funds for trading securities, which includes the cash held in the account plus the available margin. As per the regulations of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a broker-dealer client classified as a pattern day trader has the liberty to trade up to four times their maintenance margin excess from the prior day’s market close.

The Bottom Line

day trading is a high-risk career that can result in substantial profits or devastating losses. Institutional and individual day traders believe they contribute to market efficiency and liquidity.

While day trading remains a compelling option for some investors, it is crucial to have the necessary expertise, resources, and financial means to increase the chances of success.

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