Prop Trader: What Is It and How to Become (2024)

Have you ever asked yourself what it takes to become a successful prop trader? If you’re keen on building a profitable career in trading, then this guide is for you!


Proprietary trading offers an opportunity to make a lucrative income while being closely mentored by experienced traders. However, it’s not an easy path to walk and requires a certain set of qualifications and skills.

First of all, you need to understand the world of trading. Studying the markets, keeping up with the competition, and having a strong understanding of math and engineering principles are all valuable tools to have in your arsenal.

To land your first opportunity as a prop trader, you’ll need to impress during the interview process. Most firms are looking for candidates who have a deep understanding of market rules and are willing to work hard to succeed.

Once you’re in, it’s time to start learning. Prop trading firms usually have their own set of rules and strategies, and it’s important to closely follow them to maximize your chances of success.

While having a mentor is always beneficial, it’s important to remember that they can’t do all the work for you. You’ll need to take the time to develop your skills, refine your approach, and make the most of the tools at your disposal.

As you progress, it’s also important to have a plan in mind. Prop traders usually live off their trading income, so it’s crucial to manage your finances wisely and have a safety net for periods of losses.

One of the advantages of prop trading is that you don’t need a large amount of capital to get started. Unlike hedge funds or other investment funds, prop traders usually have access to funds provided by the firm they work for, which means you don’t have to worry about high management fees or attracting investors.

To sum it up, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, prop trading can be a highly rewarding and profitable career. Just remember to keep learning, stay disciplined, and take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Good luck!

What is Prop Trading?

Prop trading, short for proprietary trading, is a practice where individuals trade with a firm’s capital (or their own capital) to make profits. In simple terms, prop traders use a company’s money to make trades in the financial markets to generate returns. Unlike traditional trading, prop trading doesn’t involve trading on behalf of clients or executing orders based on clients’ requirements.

Prop traders are typically employed by proprietary trading firms, also known as prop shops or prop trading houses. These firms provide traders with the necessary trading capital, technology, research, and support to carry out their trading activities effectively. Prop trading firms usually operate under a legal agreement with the trader, outlining profit-sharing and risk management arrangements.

Prop trading can be an ideal approach for those willing to learn and grow as traders. While there are limitations and certain barriers to entry, prop trading offers a unique opportunity to join a leading firm, away from the competition of traditional financial institutions. Prop trading firms usually have minimum requirements for applicants, such as having a strong understanding of the financial markets, passing exams (e.g., Series 7 and Series 57), and completing courses on basic math and trading principles.

In summary, prop trading is a way for individuals to apply their knowledge and trading skills in the financial markets with a firm’s or their own capital. It allows traders to learn from experienced professionals, enjoy the benefits of using leverage, and trade in a proprietary environment. If you’re looking to break into the world of trading or wanting to further develop your skills, prop trading may be the thing to consider.

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about prop trading:

  1. What is the Volcker Rule and how does it relate to prop trading?
  2. What exams do I need to pass to become a prop trader?
  3. What are the advantages of prop trading compared to other trading approaches?
  4. Do prop trading firms provide training programs for new traders?
  5. How can I improve my trading skills to become a successful prop trader?
  6. Can I trade multiple asset classes as a prop trader?
See also Why Investment Fund Managers are Essential for Long-term Financial Success

Benefits of Becoming a Prop Trader

Proprietary trading, also known as prop trading, involves trading the financial markets with the firm’s own money. If you are looking to become a prop trader, there are many benefits that can make it a worthwhile career choice. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Access to Capital: As a prop trader, you have access to the firm’s capital, which allows you to take larger trading positions than you might be able to afford on your own. This can increase your profit potential and give you the ability to take advantage of trading opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.
  • Base Salary: Unlike independent traders who rely solely on their trading profits, prop traders usually receive a base salary in addition to their trading profits. This provides a stable income and can help cover living expenses during periods of low trading activity.
  • Learning Opportunities: Proprietary trading firms often provide extensive training programs to help their traders succeed. These programs cover a wide range of topics, including technical and fundamental analysis, risk management, and trading psychology. This can significantly accelerate your learning curve and help you become a better trader.
  • Access to Leading Technologies: Proprietary trading firms invest in state-of-the-art trading platforms and technologies. This not only allows you to execute trades quickly and efficiently, but it also gives you access to advanced tools and analytics that can enhance your trading strategies.
  • Supportive Environment: Proprietary trading firms usually have a team of experienced traders and mentors who can offer guidance and support. This can be invaluable, especially when you are starting out, as you can learn from their experiences and avoid common pitfalls.
  • Competitive Compensation: Successful prop traders can earn significant profits and receive performance-based bonuses. This compensation structure incentivizes traders to perform well and rewards them for their trading skills and profitability.

Steps to Becoming a Prop Trader

Proprietary trading, also known as prop trading, can be an exciting and lucrative career path for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the trade. Prop traders use their own funds to trade in the financial markets, with the goal of generating profits for themselves and the firm they work for. If you’re interested in becoming a prop trader, here are 6 steps to get you started:

1. Learn the Basics

Before you can become a prop trader, you need to have a solid understanding of the financial markets and how they work. This includes knowledge of different trading strategies, market analysis techniques, and risk management principles. Take the time to learn these basics through books, online courses, or even a degree in finance or economics.

2. Build Your Capital

To become a prop trader, you’ll need to have a certain amount of capital to trade with. Some firms may require a minimum capital amount, while others may provide you with capital to trade. If you’re starting with your own funds, make sure you have enough saved up to handle potential losses and to meet any capital requirements set by prop trading firms.

3. Find Prop Trading Firms

Once you have the necessary knowledge and capital, you’ll need to find prop trading firms that are hiring. Look for firms that align with your trading style and goals, and check their qualifications and requirements for traders. Some firms may have specific rules or qualifications that you need to meet before you can apply.

4. Apply and Interview

Once you’ve found a few prop trading firms that you’re interested in, it’s time to apply. Submit your application along with any required documents, such as your resume and trading track record. If your application is successful, you’ll be invited for an interview. Treat the interview as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills in trading.

5. Learn from Experienced Traders

If you’re lucky enough to join a prop trading firm, take advantage of the opportunity to learn from experienced traders. They have valuable insights and strategies that can help you improve your trading skills and achieve better results. Be willing to listen and learn from their experiences.

6. Focus on Building a Track Record

As a prop trader, your track record is everything. It’s what potential employers and investors will look at when considering whether to work with you or invest in your trading strategy. Focus on building a consistent track record of profitable trades, and constantly strive to improve your performance.

Educational Requirements

When it comes to becoming a prop trader, there are no strict educational requirements. Unlike many other professions, you don’t necessarily need a college degree in a specific field to enter the world of prop trading. In fact, prop trading is accessible to individuals from various educational backgrounds.

That being said, having a strong understanding of finance, economics, and mathematics can be incredibly beneficial in prop trading. It is recommended to have a basic knowledge of financial markets, trading strategies, and risk management principles before diving into this industry.

See also How to Become a Financial Analyst

1. Learning the Basics

Before you begin your journey as a prop trader, you need to learn the basics. This includes understanding market dynamics, different trading strategies, and the role of various financial instruments. There are plenty of online resources, books, and courses available that can help you gain a solid foundation in trading.

2. Research and Practice

Once you have a grasp of the basics, it’s time to do some in-depth research and practice trading. Familiarize yourself with different trading platforms and software, and practice making trades using virtual or demo accounts. This will help you hone your skills and gain practical experience before risking any real money.

3. Join an Educational Program

Consider joining an educational program or trading course offered by reputable institutions or prop trading firms. These programs provide comprehensive training on various trading techniques, risk management, and trading psychology. They often include simulated trading sessions and mentorship from experienced traders.

4. Pass Licensing Exams

In some jurisdictions, prop traders are required to pass licensing exams to become legally qualified to trade. Research the requirements in your region and be prepared to study and take the necessary exams to obtain the proper licenses.

5. Build a Track Record

To land a position as a prop trader, it is crucial to build a track record of successful trades. Keep a trading journal to track your trades and analyze your performance. This will show potential employers or investors that you have the skills and discipline needed to succeed.

6. Prepare for Interviews

Before applying for prop trading positions, be prepared for interviews. Be ready to explain your trading strategies, risk management techniques, and your overall approach to trading. Interviewers may also ask about your knowledge of various financial markets and your ability to handle pressure and make quick decisions.

7. Consider the Pros and Cons

Developing Trading Strategies

When it comes to becoming a prop trader, developing trading strategies is one of the most important skills you need to acquire. A trading strategy is a set of rules and guidelines that traders follow to make decisions about when to buy or sell financial instruments.

There are many different approaches to developing trading strategies, and what works for one trader may not work for another. However, there are some general principles you can apply to help guide your approach:

1. Define your purpose: Before you begin developing your trading strategies, it’s important to define your purpose. Are you looking to generate a steady income, or are you more interested in quick profits? Knowing your purpose will help you focus your efforts and set realistic goals.

2. Do your research: Take the time to study the market and understand its past performance. Look at historical data and identify patterns that could indicate future trends. This knowledge will help you identify profitable opportunities and make informed decisions.

3. Consider your limitations: While it’s important to aim for profitability, you also need to be realistic about your limitations. Consider your risk tolerance, available capital, and time constraints. Developing trading strategies that align with your limitations will increase your chances of success.

4. Test your strategies: Before you put your trading strategies into action, test them on historical data or in a simulated trading environment. This will help you identify any flaws or weaknesses in your approach and make necessary adjustments.

5. Start small and scale up: When you’re first starting out as a prop trader, it’s wise to start with small positions and gradually increase your exposure as you gain experience and confidence. This approach will help you manage risk and minimize potential losses.

6. Learn from experienced traders: Seek out mentors or join trading communities where you can learn from experienced traders. Their insights and advice can help you refine your strategies and improve your overall trading skills.

7. Stay up to date: The financial markets are constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay informed about current events, economic indicators, and market trends. This knowledge will help you adapt your trading strategies as needed and take advantage of new opportunities.

8. Track your performance: Keep a detailed record of your trading activities, including the strategies you’re using and the results you’re achieving. By analyzing your performance, you can identify what’s working and what’s not, and make necessary adjustments.

9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  • Q: Can anyone become a prop trader?
  • A: While anyone can become a prop trader, it’s not necessarily a suitable career path for everyone. It requires a certain level of skill, knowledge, and dedication.
  • Q: What are the qualifications to become a prop trader?
  • A: There are no specific qualifications required to become a prop trader, but having a background in finance, economics, or mathematics can be helpful.
  • Q: How long does it take to become a successful prop trader?
  • A: The timeframe for becoming a successful prop trader can vary greatly. Some traders may achieve success within a few months, while others may take several years.
  • Q: Is prop trading a highly profitable career?
  • A: Prop trading can be a lucrative career, but it also comes with risks and disadvantages. It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons before getting started.
See also How to Become a Budget Analyst

By following these guidelines and continuously refining your trading strategies, you can increase your chances of becoming a successful prop trader. Remember, becoming a prop trader is a journey, and with the right knowledge, learning, and dedication, you can achieve success in this dynamic and exciting career.

Challenges for Prop Traders

Being a prop trader comes with its fair share of challenges. In fact, it is one of the most competitive and demanding fields in the world of trading. Below, we will look at some of the key challenges that prop traders face and ways to overcome them:

Competition: The prop trading industry is highly competitive, with many aspiring traders vying for limited spots. To stand out from the competition, you need to constantly learn and improve your trading strategies. Consider studying courses or programmes that offer valuable insights into prop trading.

Risks: Prop trading can be lucrative, but it also comes with significant risks. You need to carefully balance your risk management strategies to avoid losing substantial amounts of money. Always have a plan in mind and stick to it, no matter what.

Access to capital: Unlike traditional traders, prop traders usually have access to the firm’s capital. However, you still need to prove yourself and generate profits to scale up your trading. Starting with small profits and gradually scaling up is a common approach.

Restrictions and regulations: Prop traders need to navigate through various regulations, such as the Volcker Rule, which limits proprietary trading by banks. Make sure you understand the rules and comply with them to avoid any legal issues.

Mathematical and analytical skills: Being successful in prop trading requires a strong mathematical and analytical foundation. If you lack these skills, consider brushing up on your knowledge or taking courses to enhance your abilities.

Staying updated: The world of trading is constantly evolving, with new strategies and approaches emerging frequently. Prop traders need to stay on top of the latest trends and adapt their trading strategies accordingly. Look for free resources, such as webinars or online forums, to keep yourself informed.

Mindset: Prop trading can be mentally challenging, especially during periods of losses or when facing high-pressure situations. It is important to stay focused, disciplined, and maintain a positive mindset to navigate through these challenges and achieve success.

Finding the right firm: Not all prop trading firms are created equal. It’s important to do your research and find a reputable and reliable firm that aligns with your goals and values. Consider factors such as training programs, support, and potential for growth within the firm.

Time commitment: Prop trading requires dedication and a significant time commitment. You need to be willing to put in the hours and continuously improve your trading skills. This may mean sacrificing personal time or other commitments, especially in the early stages of your trading career.

Dealing with losses: Losses are an inevitable part of trading, including prop trading. The key is to learn from your losses, analyze your mistakes, and come back stronger. Develop resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Gaining experience: Building a successful career in prop trading takes time and experience. Be patient and focus on gaining practical experience, whether through internships, simulated trading, or starting with a small trading account. The more you trade, the more you will learn and improve.

In summary, becoming a prop trader is a challenging but rewarding journey. By understanding and addressing these challenges, you can increase your chances of success in the prop trading world.


What is a prop trader?

A prop trader, short for proprietary trader, is an individual who trades financial instruments using the firm’s own money and resources, rather than client funds. They are responsible for making profitable trades and generating revenue for the prop trading firm.

What skills are required to become a prop trader?

To become a prop trader, you need to have strong analytical skills, a solid understanding of financial markets, the ability to make quick decisions under pressure, excellent risk management skills, and the ability to handle large amounts of data and information.

What are the different ways to build a career as a proprietary trader?

There are three main ways to build a career as a proprietary trader: joining a prop trading firm as a trainee or junior trader, starting your own trading firm, or trading independently using your own capital.

Is a degree in finance or economics necessary to become a prop trader?

No, a degree in finance or economics is not necessary to become a prop trader. While a background in finance can be beneficial, what really matters is your knowledge of financial markets, trading strategies, and risk management.

How much money can a prop trader make?

The amount of money a prop trader can make varies greatly depending on their level of experience, skill, and the profitability of their trades. Some successful prop traders can earn six- or seven-figure incomes, while others may earn a more modest salary or commission-based income.

Prop Trader: What Is It and How to Become (2024)


How do you become a prop trader? ›

To become a proprietary trader, earn a bachelor's degree in finance, business, or mathematics. Complete at least one internship with a trading firm to learn about the finance industry and make professional connections. Apply for an entry-level proprietary trader role.

What is a prop trader job description? ›

Proprietary traders may execute an assortment of market strategies that include index arbitrage, statistical arbitrage, merger arbitrage, fundamental analysis, volatility arbitrage, technical analysis, and/or global macro trading.

How do you succeed in prop trading? ›

15 Risk Management Tips for Prop Trading Success
  1. Educate yourself about the Forex Market and its Risks before Trading a Live Account. ...
  2. Develop and stick to a prudent trading plan. ...
  3. Test any trading strategy before risking real money. ...
  4. Never risk more than you can afford to lose. ...
  5. Choose a sensible risk-to-reward ratio.

What is prop trading? ›

Proprietary trading, commonly referred to as prop trading, involves financial firms, especially those specializing in securities, equities, derivatives, forex, and the futures markets, trading their own money for direct profit, rather than earning commission by trading on behalf of clients.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated:

Views: 6195

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.