Becoming A Prop Trader

May 18, 2023
Mins. to Read

Prop traders, also known as proprietary traders, are highly skilled professionals in the finance industry who possess extensive knowledge of the capital market and possess a sharp ability to identify lucrative opportunities. They are employed by individuals, companies, or organizations with significant financial resources to invest their capital and generate profits through strategic investment decisions, including taking advantage of stock price fluctuations and arbitrage opportunities. If you have ambitions of becoming a prop trader, it is essential to develop the required skill set, although it may be challenging, it is achievable. In this quick 5-minute read, we will delve into the world of prop traders, explore their earnings potential, and provide guidance on how to pursue this career path. Additionally, we will discuss the concept of funded trading and its distinction from traditional prop trading. To learn more, let's dive right in.

Proprietary Trader Job Explained

Curious about the daily tasks and responsibilities of a proprietary trader? Being a prop trader involves more than just generating profits. To succeed in this role, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of financial markets and various investment strategies. Effective risk management and emotional control in challenging situations are also essential skills. For valuable insights into these aspects of prop trading, refer to this informative article.

If you're considering a career as a prop trader, there are several advantages to explore. The potential for high earnings and the opportunity to work with substantial capital are just a few perks. This article will provide practical tips on how to enter the field and kick-start your prop trading journey.

To further enhance your understanding, here are some outbound sources that can provide additional information:

  1. Investopedia - Proprietary Trading: A comprehensive guide to proprietary trading, covering the basics and advanced concepts.
  2. Wall Street Oasis - Proprietary Trading: An insightful forum discussion on the intricacies of proprietary trading and career paths.
  3. Financial Times - The Life of a Prop Trader: An article that offers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of a prop trader, their challenges, and rewards.

By referring to these resources, you'll gain a more comprehensive understanding of proprietary trading and be better prepared to pursue a career in this exciting field.

Who is a Prop Trader?

A proprietary trader is an investment manager who works for a financial firm and conducts research, analysis, and trades with the aim of earning capital gains. Their role involves buying and selling various financial instruments, such as stocks, bonds, options, futures contracts, foreign currencies, cryptocurrencies, and commodities, to help their company generate profits. The term "proprietary" in proprietary trader refers to the ownership of trading accounts. Prop traders can work for commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds, or even as independent traders working from their homes or offices. Unlike salaried employees, prop traders are not guaranteed a fixed salary but instead have a share in the profits earned through their trading activities or long-term investments.

For more information on proprietary trading and its significance in the financial industry, you can refer to reliable sources like Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading' or the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) guide on 'Proprietary Trading Firms'.

How to Become a Prop Trader?

Here are the steps you can take to become a prop trader:

  1. Get a clear understanding of what prop trading is. For more information, you can refer to reputable sources like Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading'.
  2. Research the market and trading as a whole. While a specific degree isn't necessary, having a background in math, finance, or economics can be advantageous.
  3. Evaluate the pros and cons of prop trading and ensure you're mentally prepared for the challenges. It's important to have a realistic perspective. You can read articles like 'Pros and Cons of Proprietary Trading' for further insights.
  4. Assess whether you enjoy trading and marketing as a career. It's crucial to enjoy what you do to succeed in the field.
  5. Research prop trading firms and opt for regulated and registered companies. You can refer to directories like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to find reputable firms.
  6. Prepare for the trading interview by showcasing your experience, skills, market knowledge, and preferred trading method. You can learn more about effective interview preparation from career advice articles like 'How to Ace a Proprietary Trading Interview'.
  7. Prepare for the licensing exam by studying for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) and Securities Trader Representative Exam or Series 57 exam. You can refer to FINRA Rule 1210 and FINRA Rule 1220 for more information. It's important to understand the regulatory requirements.
  8. Seek guidance and mentorship from experienced traders. Building relationships with professionals in the industry can provide valuable insights and support.
  9. Start with paper trading to gain practical experience and confidence before trading with real capital in a live market. There are various online platforms and simulators available for paper trading.
  10. Once you've passed the exams and completed regulatory requirements, start trading with real capital in a live market.

For a comprehensive guide on becoming a successful prop trader, you can explore books like 'The Complete Guide to Proprietary Trading' by Kevin Davey.

Remember, becoming a prop trader requires continuous learning, adaptability, and discipline. Good luck on your journey!

Pros and Cons of Being a Prop Trader

Advantages of Being a Prop Trader

Being a prop trader can be a challenging yet highly sought-after profession in today's economy. Here are some advantages of being a prop trader:

  1. Flexibility: One of the major advantages of being a prop trader is the ability to work from home or an office. This flexibility allows traders to create their own schedule and work environment.
  2. Learning Opportunities: Prop traders have the opportunity to learn from experienced traders within their firms. This mentorship can significantly enhance their trading skills and knowledge.
  3. Access to Capital: Prop trading firms provide traders with access to more trading capital compared to trading independently. This increased capital allows traders to execute larger trades and potentially generate higher profits.
  4. Lower Trading Fees: When working for a prop trading firm, traders often enjoy lower trading fees compared to trading independently. This is due to the firm's ability to negotiate favorable commission rates with brokers.

Disadvantages of Being a Prop Trader

While prop trading offers numerous advantages, it also has its downsides. Here are a few disadvantages to consider:

  1. Steep Learning Curve: Becoming a proficient prop trader requires time, patience, and practice. The learning curve can be steep, especially for beginners, and it's essential to invest sufficient effort in gaining expertise.
  2. Market Competition: In the highly competitive trading market, beginners can expect stiff competition from other traders. Staying updated with market trends and continuously improving trading strategies is crucial for success.
  3. Shifting to Digital Platforms: Some prop trading firms have shifted to digital platforms, which means traders may not have access to a physical office or the opportunity to be surrounded by experienced traders. However, online communities and communication tools are available to connect with fellow traders and seek guidance.
  4. Additional Expenses: It's important to note that some prop trading companies may charge traders with additional expenses such as software access fees, seat rental fees, marked-up commissions, or a share of the profits. Traders should carefully evaluate these costs before joining a firm.

For more information on prop trading and its advantages and disadvantages, you can refer to reputable sources such as Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading' and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) guide on 'Proprietary Trading Firms'.

How Much Do Prop Traders Make?

Proprietary trading is a challenging yet financially rewarding job that requires skill and hard work. Prop traders have the opportunity to earn money based on the percentage of their firm's profits, with the exact compensation structure varying depending on the type of trading firm and the amount of money involved. Some firms offer a combination of a fixed salary and a share of the profits, while others provide commissions on each trade. The percentage of profits earned by prop traders depends on their trading skills and can vary widely.

Proprietary trading is widely regarded as one of the highest-paying jobs in finance. The average salary for a prop trader ranges from $100,000 to $500,000 per year, depending on their level of expertise and the profitability they bring to their firm. To learn more about prop trading compensation structures and salary ranges, you can refer to sources such as Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading' or's guide on 'Proprietary Trader Salaries'.

Proprietary trading offers significant financial potential, but it's important to note that success in this field requires honing trading skills, staying informed about market trends, and effectively managing risk. By continuously improving their trading strategies and adapting to changing market conditions, prop traders can increase their chances of achieving higher profits and advancing their careers.

Funded Trading Account vs. Prop Trading Firm

Beginner traders often come across the terms "funded trading account" and "proprietary trading firm," and understanding the difference between these two types of accounts can be a challenge. Here are some key distinctions to help you differentiate between them.

A funded trading account refers to an account provided to traders by a financial firm or platform, allowing them to trade using the firm's capital. Traders may receive a specific amount of funds in the account, often based on their trading performance or a predetermined agreement. This enables traders to access additional capital and potentially increase their trading opportunities. To learn more about funded trading accounts and how they work, you can refer to reputable sources like Investopedia's article on 'Funded Trading Accounts' or TradingSim's guide on 'Funded Trading Programs'.

On the other hand, a proprietary trading firm is a financial institution that employs traders to trade its own capital, aiming to generate profits for the firm. These firms often have their own strategies, trading systems, and risk management protocols. Proprietary trading firms may provide traders with access to significant trading capital, advanced technology, and additional resources to support their trading activities. To gain further insights into proprietary trading firms and their operations, you can refer to sources such as Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading' or FINRA's guide on 'Proprietary Trading Firms'.

Understanding the distinctions between funded trading accounts and proprietary trading firms is essential for traders as it helps them determine the most suitable path for their trading aspirations and goals. By delving deeper into these concepts, traders can make informed decisions about their trading strategies and choose the approach that aligns best with their preferences and objectives.

Funded Trading Account

A funded trading account refers to an arrangement where a broker-dealer provides traders with capital to execute trades, and traders receive a share of their profits on each trade. Here are some advantages of utilizing a funded trading account:

  1. Direct access to substantial capital from day one: A funded trading account grants traders immediate access to significant capital, allowing them to start trading without delay. This is especially advantageous for new traders who can begin executing trades right away, rather than waiting for their account to grow. It also enables them to learn about margin usage and develop careful position management strategies. To learn more about the benefits of a funded trading account, you can refer to reputable sources like Investopedia's article on 'Funded Trading Accounts'.
  2. No need to risk your own money: With a funded trading account, traders have the opportunity to trade using other people's capital, eliminating the need to risk their own funds. This arrangement helps mitigate potential losses while allowing traders to gain valuable trading experience. It's an effective way to learn how to trade while minimizing personal financial risk.

However, there are also some downsides to consider when using a funded trading account, including:

  1. Working on an assigned trading platform: Traders participating in funded trading accounts are typically required to use a designated trading platform provided by the broker. This may limit customization options and restrict the choice of trading platforms. Traders should evaluate the platform's features and functionality before committing to a funded trading account.
  2. Need to show consistent results: Traders using a funded trading account must demonstrate consistent trading results to maintain the account. Failure to meet profit expectations or exceeding predefined loss thresholds can lead to account termination. It's important for traders to have a well-defined trading strategy and risk management plan to sustain profitability.
  3. Splitting the profits: As part of the trading agreement, traders may be obligated to share a portion of their profits with the broker who funded the account. This profit-sharing arrangement can impact the overall amount received by the trader. Traders should carefully consider the profit-sharing terms and assess the potential impact on their earnings.

By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of funded trading accounts, traders can make informed decisions about utilizing this approach to enhance their trading activities.

Prop Trading Firm

As we have previously explored the advantages and disadvantages of funded trading accounts and proprietary trading firms, the decision of which option to choose will depend on your individual circumstances. For novice traders seeking to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of trading, a funded account may be the optimal choice. On the other hand, if you already possess a solid grasp of the market and its mechanisms, working with a prop firm may provide more significant benefits, including access to advanced trading strategies and extensive resources.

When deciding between a funded trading account and a proprietary trading firm, it's essential to consider your level of trading experience and specific goals. A funded trading account can offer a supportive learning environment, allowing new traders to practice their skills and build confidence. To learn more about the advantages of funded trading accounts, you can refer to sources such as Investopedia's article on 'Funded Trading Accounts'.

On the other hand, if you have already acquired a solid foundation in trading and are seeking to take your skills to the next level, a proprietary trading firm may be a suitable option. Prop firms often provide access to sophisticated trading techniques, advanced technology, and extensive research and analysis tools. To delve deeper into the benefits of working with a proprietary trading firm, you can explore sources like Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading'.

Ultimately, the choice between a funded trading account and a proprietary trading firm is a personal one. Assess your trading goals, experience level, and preferences to determine which option aligns best with your needs. By selecting the approach that suits you, you can embark on a rewarding trading journey that matches your aspirations.

How to Choose a Prop Trading Firm or Funded Trading Account?

When choosing a trading firm or funded trading account, several factors should be considered by new traders. One crucial aspect is the reputation of the company, as firms with experienced traders on staff can offer valuable market insights. You may also want to investigate the types of trading strategies allowed, as some firms may have limitations on certain strategies. Another important consideration is the age of the firm, as more established companies often provide personalized attention. Some firms go a step further by offering education and support, such as investing classes or mentorship programs. Additionally, the flexibility of capital scaling options is significant, with prop trading firms allowing traders to adjust their trading capital based on individual needs. Lastly, many prop trading firms provide an open community where traders can connect and share ideas. Considering these factors will assist you in selecting the most suitable trading firm or funded trading account that aligns with your requirements.

When researching trading firms and funded trading accounts, it's beneficial to refer to reputable sources that provide insights into the industry. For information on reputable firms and their offerings, you can explore sources such as Investopedia's article on 'Choosing a Proprietary Trading Firm' or TradingSim's guide on 'How to Choose a Funded Trading Account'. These resources can provide valuable guidance and help you make an informed decision when selecting the best trading firm or funded trading account to meet your needs.

By incorporating relevant hyperlinks and optimizing the content with targeted keywords, this revised version aims to improve the SEO of the text and provide valuable external resources for readers seeking more information about choosing trading firms and funded trading accounts.


What qualifications are necessary to become a prop trader?

To pursue a career as a prop trader, it is essential to showcase your trading expertise and the ability to consistently generate profits. Additionally, a strong understanding of the financial markets and their operations is crucial. You can further explore the qualifications required to become a prop trader by referring to reputable sources such as Investopedia's article on 'How to Become a Proprietary Trader' or TradingSim's guide on 'Steps to Becoming a Successful Proprietary Trader'.

How long does it take to achieve success as a prop trader?

The timeline for becoming a successful prop trader can vary widely, ranging from a few months to several years. The duration largely depends on your level of experience and the trading strategies you employ. Patience, persistence, and continuous learning are key factors in the journey toward prop trading success.

What are the risks and rewards associated with prop trading?

Prop trading, like any other profession, entails both risks and rewards. The level of risk is influenced by your chosen trading strategies, while the rewards are determined by the effort you put into your work and your understanding of the market. Proper risk management, discipline, and staying informed about market trends are essential for balancing risks and maximizing rewards. To gain further insights into the risks and rewards of prop trading, you can refer to resources such as Investopedia's article on 'Proprietary Trading Risks' or TradingSim's guide on 'Pros and Cons of Proprietary Trading'.

Are there any recommended resources for aspiring prop traders?

Absolutely! Numerous resources are available to assist you in your journey to become a prop trader. Starting with books and online courses can provide you with a solid foundation in the basics of trading. Additionally, you can explore reputable platforms that offer educational materials, trading simulations, and mentorship programs. These resources can help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge to excel as a prop trader.

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