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Can You Day trade With a Full Time Job? (Day trading or Swing Trading) [Which One is Better?]

Last Updated on 17 February, 2024 by Rejaul Karim

Daytrading is known to be a hectic profession. Anything that can produce returns on your cash as big as the day trading can is bound to take up a fair bit of time. However, people often wonder just how time-consuming it is, and whether or not they can trade while managing a full-time job along with it.

You cannot day trade while managing a full-time job. Daytrading simply demands way too much of your time, as well as your mind, to be combinable with a full-time job. The good news is that swing trading is still a possibility with is an excellent alternative for traders who are short on time,

Are you not convinced yet? Well, let us show you why, and then tell you why swing trading probably is the better choice!


Can You Day trade With a Full Time Job? (Day trading or Swing Trading) [Which One is Better?]

Why You Can’t Daytrade With a Full-Time Job

Let’s go through some of the reasons why day trading with a full-time job is not such a good idea:

You’re Working When the Market Opens.

This is the first thing you need to remember. Your local market will open sometime between 8-9:30 AM depending on where you live. As a daytrader, this is the time when you need to be the most active. Markets are by far the most volatile during these periods, and volatility is where day trading shines.

9 AM is also the time when many full-time jobs require you to begin your shift. As such, those who have a full-time job and still want to daytrade will have trouble trying to take advantage of all of the overnight developments that are bound to push the market one way or the other during the opening few hours!

Schedules of daytraders are all over the place. It really is down to personal preference how long you trade for after the opening bell. Some daytraders hit their daily goal within the first 30 minutes and stop trading. Others take a break after the first couple of hours. This is because markets become less volatile as lunch draws near and check back in the afternoon.

Most daytraders do not actively trade in the markets for more than a few hours. However, daytrading with an evening shift isn’t much better. Here is why:

Daytrading Requires Focus

The average worker in a modern workplace is only productive for around 3 hours a day. However, daytrading requires you to be completely focused for the entirety of your trading session. This is something that daytraders need to understand. Once you are done with a full day of analyzing and speculating on the market, even if you only spent a few hours, you will be extremely tired. As such, your evening shift is probably going to be way more burdensome than a morning shift would be.

Research Also Demands Your Attention

Although the vast majority of the time you spend as a daytrader will be in the markets, that is not all. In fact, most daytraders spend quite a fair bit of time researching strategies and how they can improve. On top of that, daytraders also need to stay up to date with business news from across the globe. From currency devaluations to prices of specific securities that could end up impacting their trades, day trading requires you to be working even when you are not working.

A great example of this is that most daytraders wake up at least a couple of hours before trading begins and spend some time reading up on major news events from the night. This helps them prepare for the session ahead and capitalize on the events during the first few minutes of the trading session!

Your Full-Time Job Might Feel Stale

Most of the people who enter the world of day trading not only want to be financially secure and make a lot of money, but they also crave the manic highs and lows that go along with it. Once you become an active and successful daytrader, you will probably not enjoy your full-time job since it is simply not as exciting as daytrading at its best. On top of that, the time that you spend on your full-time job can be better spent on other activities such as researching the markets to further amplify your profits or finding alternative investment methods for your profits (e.g Real Estate).

Swing Trading vs. Daytrading

Although it is not viable to day trade with a full-time job, swing trading is a worthy alternative. Swing trading actually has a much larger profit potential per trade when compared with day trading, since it capitalizes on bigger swings. On top of that, it does not demand the same amount of time as day trading. This makes swing trading a good alternative for those who still want to trade but want to keep the security that goes along with having a full-time job.

Swing trading lies right between day trading and value investing. Instead of holding onto your positions for a day or for years, you usually try to make money by holding instruments for a few days to a few weeks. Also, swing trading could be said to be a much broader field, in that the trades can be from one day to a few weeks long. Also, usually, the data that you base your trades upon is based upon daily bars. As such, the data is more reliable and significant than minute bars and should help you long or short instruments for longer durations than a day.

Tips for New Swing Traders

Swing Trading Tips
Swing Trading Tips

Swing trading is still based on technical analysis, so those who have studied day trading will find that a lot carries over. The complications arise when you try to balance swing trading with a full-time job. Regardless of whether you were day trading or not, here are a few tips to help you get started with swing trading.

Set a Fixed Time For research

Since a full-time job only takes up a fixed amount of time, it is necessary that aspiring swing traders set up a schedule (usually in the evening) when they can study the market and look up new trading opportunities. Just like day-trading, consistency is key in swing trading as well!

Fine Tune Your Strategies

You will need to change your indicators to comply with longer holding periods. On top of that, it is also important that swing traders learn to increase their appetite for risk. Since the profit margin is larger and the number of trades is smaller, you should be willing to risk a slightly higher percentage of your capital when it comes to swing trading. Of course, without risking too much! Two percent on each trade is a good rule of thumb.

Here you can read more about how to adjust position size and calculate risk.

Can You Day trade With a Full Time Job? (Day trading or Swing Trading) [Which One is Better?]

Monitor Your Positions

Just because you are swing trading does not mean you can ignore your positions for a week. As with day trading, consistency is key and you should look at your positions at least once a day to see if any new developments could impact or ‘swing’ the trend. This is why it is best to dedicate time to trading every single day. Luckily, you can do it in the evening after you finish your shift.

Keep at It!

Despite their similarities, swing trading is a different art than day trading. You should not expect to be perfect at it right from the get-go. You might experience losses in the beginning, but you should keep at it. Eventually, you will have enough experience and knowledge. When the time comes, you will be able to make really good profits!

If you are a complete beginner, a simulated portfolio might be the best place for you to start.

Bottom Line

It is clear that day trading requires a lot of effort, and thus cannot be done with a full-time job. However, swing trading should come in handy for those who do not want to quit their jobs as of yet.

Here you can find our archive with all our swing trading articles and day trading articles.


Can I day trade while working a full-time job?

No, day trading is highly time-consuming and demands your full attention, especially during the most volatile market hours, which often coincide with standard working hours.

Why is day trading challenging with a full-time job?

Day trading requires active participation during market hours, and the need for focus, research, and real-time decision-making makes it incompatible with a full-time job. Even with an evening shift, day trading remains challenging as it demands mental focus and energy, which might be compromised after a full day of market analysis.

How does swing trading differ from day trading?

Swing trading lies between day trading and value investing. Trades typically last from a few days to a few weeks, and the analysis is based on daily bars, providing more reliable data compared to minute bars in day trading.

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