How Long Does it Take to Learn?


As with athletes, traders may be classified as professionals or nonprofessionals. The first group is largely comprised of individuals who trade for financial firms, manage other people’s money, and otherwise make their living from trading on a full-time basis. Employers often train their own people and impose their own rules on performance. For these reasons and others, I usually prefer to work with nonprofessionals.

The nonprofessional group can be subdivided into two smaller groups: beginners and advanced.

Beginning Traders are new to the game. With great enthusiasm, they set out to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to trade. Their expectations can be unrealistic at the beginning of the journey. Eventually, they learn that trading is harder than it looks and that they will not get rich overnight. In the long run, these traders must determine whether they have the right “stuff” to pursue trading as a lifetime endeavor.

Advanced Traders have participated in the markets for a period of time, made mistakes, developed some trading skill, and possess the grit necessary to rise to the next level. Unlike beginners, these individuals know that practice is essential for skill development and embrace a mindset that seeks continuous improvement. Advanced traders view the acquisition of skill as a journey and not a destination, just as high-performing athletes do in their preparation for the Olympic Games.

The length of time that it takes for nonprofessionals to become proficient traders depends upon the time, effort, and money invested in the process. Every person learns in different ways and at different rates of speed. Thus, there is no standard learning curve. I enjoy working with nonprofessionals, however, because they have some advantages in trading that professionals do not possess. Among them are freedom to achieve profitability without outside pressure, versatility in entering and exiting markets, and simplicity in the use of skills and trading tools. These things in themselves make the effort worthwhile.