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Day trading is a tough career. Whether you're new to the field or an experienced veteran who wants a support network of other professional day traders, finding a day-trading school that offers courses and mentoring is an efficient way to get the education and tools required to succeed in the markets. Many day-trading schools offer online courses, video conferencing, in-class or group sessions and/or personal consultations.

The price, support systems and overall quality varies dramatically from school to school. So here's a little day trading academy review, pointing out the key aspects to ponder when evaluating an institution, along with specific popular and reputable financial trading schools.

Investopedia Academy's "Become a Day Trader"

In June 2017, Investopedia launched its Become a Day Trader course, taught by a Wall Street trader with over 30 years of experience. The course covers everything from how to create a trading plan to step-by-step instructions for making trades. You'll go through three hours of on-demand video (at your own pace) and along with practice trading scenarios and quizzes you'll end up with your own personalized trading plan. The instructor will walk you through a step by step playbook for six trades that you can use right away.

If you're interested in other day trading course options, read on below to learn about some other great resources.

Picking a Day-Trading School: The 3 Elements

One of the first things new traders look at when picking a day-trading school is, not surprisingly, its cost. While the price of tuition is an important factor, it shouldn't be the only factor. If they jump in without guidance or research, most novice day traders will lose a lot of money very quickly. If day trading the stock market, for example, that potentially means losing a large chunk of $25,000 or more – the minimum account balance required to trade on margin as imposed by the Financial Industry Regulator Authority (FINRA). From this perspective, spending $3,000 or even $10,000 for some solid training may actually be cheaper over the long run than attempting to day trade all on your own.

The key phrase above is "solid training," which comprises three elements: foundation, mentoring and support.

  • Foundation gives you knowledge about the market you wish to day trade as well as strategies to help you extract a profit from the market. While strategies do vary, for the most part this information can be found on the web (via online stock trading courses, online options trading courses or futures trading courses) or in textbooks for little to no cost. Many day-trading schools even give away their strategies for free (because the strategy is only a part of becoming a successful trader).
  • Mentoring – whether by attending regular webinars, having trades critiqued or receiving one-on-one coaching – is more pivotal to success than just the information a trader receives from books or articles. The mentoring stage introduces an objective observer to your trading. It is very hard to see our own mistakes, but someone else who knows what to look for can often spot those errors immediately, correct us and provide a better way of trading. It's like trying to fix your golf swing without the aid of a video camera or a golf pro watching. Since you can't see what you are doing while you are swinging (trading), you're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again, even while working hard to correct what you think is wrong. Mentoring removes that hurdle, makes the process much more efficient and is likely to result in quicker progress than attempting to fix things on your own.
  • Support is the ongoing element of the school, post-graduation, that is also beneficial. It is very easy to slip into bad habits over time or change our behaviors without realizing it. Ongoing support, and having a school or a group of traders to help you through this time, is a significant advantage. Even professional traders, like athletes, can hit slumps that require a knowledgeable outside source to get them back on track.

Top Day-Trading Schools

Day-trading schools tend to focus on different markets – equities, futures, forex, etc. Here are day-trading schools which offer solid foundations, mentoring and support in their specialties. (Prices, while current, are subject to change.)

Stock Market Courses

One of the largest trading schools is Online Trading Academy (OTA). The school began as the training arm of a trading floor in 1997, offering daily coaching sessions. Gradually, it shifted its focus to help more traders by providing classes, workshops, online courses and free trading resources, opening its first training center (despite its name) in 2001. Over 250,000 traders are in the OTA community, with live and online classes held around the United States and the world at more than 40 campuses.

Unlike other day-trading schools, OTA offers curricula for several markets, including forex and futures, as well as wealth-management courses, but it's especially renowned for its stock market classes. Whatever the focus, its approach is learning in stages. For stock traders, for example, the journey begins with the free Power Trading Workshop, a half-day class where you learn to create a trading plan and implement a rule-based trading system. Next come the Professional Trader Courses, divided into parts one and two. Part one is a five-day live workshop (or 10 three-hour online sessions), and part two is a two-day live course (or four three-hour online sessions). The courses are priced at $5,000 and $2,000, respectively. Those who take the course can come back and redo it as many times as they like, for life, providing traders with continual support, refreshers and guidance even after they have completed their training.

In this series of interactive lectures and trading sessions, core strategies and methodology are taught. OTA's main focus is on supply-and-demand imbalances, a method that allows for relatively low-risk trades compared to the potential rewards. Graduates of the Professional Trader Courses can further their education with more advanced classes, and take courses related to other markets. OTA also offers a select number of specialty courses, including topics such as trading psychology and technical analysis strategies.

Online Stock Market Courses

If you're interested in day trading stocks, the Stock Whisperer (aka Stefanie Kammerman) offers a number of different courses and services. She began trading in 1994, and in 2010 began teaching in the online chat room. Stefanie provides a free daily "whisper of the day," which includes stocks and ETFs to watch, along with important price levels. Check out recent "whispers" on Scutify.

For courses, you have a number of choices. The courses teach you the strategies Stefanie uses, along with lots of examples. After taking a course you can join The Java Pit to see more examples, or you can continue trading on your own with your newfound knowledge.

The Stock Whisper focuses on tape reading (time and sales), spotting big buyers and sellers (prints), volume analysis, support and resistance and dark pools. Counting the Cards on Wall Street is one of the main day trading courses offered, via three pre-recorded parts ($99, $149 and $149 respectively). You can also get all three courses (along with What's Inside the Candle, which is $299) in the Ruby Education Package for $499. The package deal offers significant savings over buying the courses individually. There are a number of other courses, including swing trading courses, boot camps and one-on-one coaching.

Those who've mastered the Cards trilogy can sign up for two-week, five-hours-a-day boot camp and a live seminar, held bi-monthly, that includes competitions with simulated trades.

Options Trading Courses

If you are interested in trading options, TradePro Academy has a number of different courses and services available to you. Options aren't typically day traded. But based on the strategies you will learn, you can make short-term options trades for both day and swing trading.

The Path to Profits course introduces traders to the options market and then teaches a reliable options trading strategy where risk and reward are fixed on each trade. The course includes an options refresher (available for free), assessing volatility, picking the best options to trade, building a trading plan, placing orders, capital management, managing trades, assessing profit/loss scenarios, part-time trading and a full day of live trading.

It, along with other courses (from Trading Foundations to Market Analysis Live), are available by monthly subscription. But the package deals might be better. For $99 per month, for example, the Pro Package gives you access to a success coach, all trading courses (as well as additional ones that might be offered in future), weekly analysis webinars and live trade alerts. It also offers "premium chat support."

George Papazov is the founder of TradePro Academy. He began trading in 2001 and started TradePro in 2012.

Futures Trading Courses

The Day Trading Academy (DTA) offers traders the opportunity to learn to deal in a variety of market conditions in the futures markets – calm, volatile or in-between. The DTA method centers on reading price action, so while indicators may be used, they aren't relied upon. The Day Trading Academy was started in 2011 by Marcello Arrambide, a professional day trader since 2002 and a globe trotter who also founded the popular Wandering Trader web site.

More than 50,000 traders subscribe to the DTA newsletter, which provides free resources and trading advice and outlines how to gain access to the futures day-trading course. One can view one live trading class for free; entering the program – newcomers are accepted monthly – includes access to the classes, both live and recorded, and providing what traders need to know about the futures market as well as core day-trading strategies.

The curriculum is split into four sections; beginner, intermediate, advanced, and pro. It includes an online course with reading and loads of videos highlighting each point. It goes from simple concepts with technical analysis like support and resistance areas, trend lines and price action, to more advanced concepts like trading psychology, emotional intelligence, and high probability trades with at least a 2:1 reward vs risk.

Once traders are familiar with the material, they attend live webinars, held during market hours twice a week, to see how the strategies are applied in real-time. This also provides an opportunity to ask questions and interact with professional traders. Daily recaps at the end of the day highlight the trade signals that occurred.

The course is currently $2,997 and includes (all online) access, three months of one-on-one mentoring, weekly webinars/live trading classes, review classes and video recaps showing the main opportunities (based on the strategy) each day. Packages with additional mentoring time are also available.

While traders can use the method to trade all day, the DTA focuses primarily on trading near market open, attempting to profit by only trading for a couple hours each day. Traders in the program take screenshots of their trades, send them into support and receive video feedback from a professional trader on how to improve entries and exits, and how to better read the price action to improve decision-making.

Training is provided in an online setting, making it accessible to anyone in the world.

Foreign Exchange (Forex) Trading Courses

The forex market is open 24 hours. A swing trade (lasts more than a day) doesn't have any more restrictions imposed on it than a day trade would. So schools that focus on forex often cover both day trading and swing trading.

Winner's Edge Trading began as a blog in 2009, providing free trade signals, strategies and advice, which it still does today. Not so much a formal day trading academy as an online tutorial center and trading room, Winner's Edge provides its core strategy for free – to more than 70,000 subscribers – as well as frequent blog and video posts, which highlight current and upcoming trades using the "Double Trend Trap" strategy.

The strategy can be used in any time frame, although trade signals are primarily traded on the hourly chart in the New York Session Trading Room. Trades typically last about 18 hours, according to Casey Stubbs, the CEO, and there are about 10 trade signals a week. Traders can also adapt the strategy to shorter time frames if desired for more or quicker trades.

Joining the trading room is $97 per month, and promotions are often available for multi-month sign-ups. The training begins with learning the core system in detail, as well as more advanced strategies. Sessions give traders a chance to ask questions and see trades occurring in a live environment, as well as how to manage existing trades.

In 2014 Winner's Edge introduced its Extreme Growth Mentoring Series ($397). Once their training is complete, members are provided with a monitored demo account, in which a professional trader provides feedback on the trader's performance. The ideas is that novices need someone over their shoulder (figuratively) to point out what is being done well and what is being done poorly, and then allowing them to take corrective measures.

The Bottom Line

Cost is an important factor when deciding which day-trading school to join, but it isn't the only factor. Dishing out a few thousand dollars up front (or a few hundred monthly) to take get an options trading education, a power trading workshop or even just a few stock market courses or futures trading courses may be a good investment if they cut your learning curve and get you on the path to profitability quicker. It's like paying university tuition so that, down the road, you can make a better income.

What the school gives you should be worth the cost, though. Any day trading academy worth its salt should offer you a good foundation of information to build on, mentoring by knowledgeable and successful pros to help you understand the information and fully implement it in the market, and a support network (via emails, webinars or chat rooms) where successful traders using the same methods can interact and help each other if required. The foundation and mentoring stages should get you to a comfort point when day trading, and hopefully a profitable position. The post-graduate network will help you succeed and stay on track even after your initial training is done.

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