How Long Does It Really Take to Learn How to Trade Forex?

Christopher Lewis

This article will help you understand how long you should practice with a Forex demo account before opening a real-money live Forex account with a good Forex broker.

The question of how long it takes to learn Forex trading is a very open one, it really comes down to individual circumstance. After all, there are a great many different variables that go into the answer to this question. However, there are certain ways to approach the subject that can help an individual get past the learning curve much quicker. Unfortunately, some people never truly learn how to trade and another thing that you need to keep in mind is that you never actually stop learning. Markets are very dynamic, so obviously there is no “one-size-fits-all” type of solution.

Mindset

Over the last decade or so, I have known a lot of traders that have come in and out of the markets. One of the biggest advantages for those who have been successful has been their mindset. Unfortunately, we are quite often led into the marketplace with the misunderstanding that it is easy to make a profit. We also are told that getting rich is not only simple but is to be expected. Clearly, that is not the reality for most people involved. In fact, when traders look for quick and easy money, they end up wrecking their accounts.

Learn Forex Trading Fast

One thing that is always telling is that most traders find it disturbing if they “only make” a couple of percent over the course of the month. Most retail traders look at that as paltry. However, they are perfectly satisfied with that by professional traders that have much more information and strategy as well as tools at their disposal. This complete disconnect makes no sense as they will berate themselves for doing what the professionals do. What is even more interesting is that most of the people that are truly upset are new traders.

Trading is something that takes an extreme amount of patience, strategy, and of course education. It is not impossible to be successful, but you need to understand what you are getting yourself into. You are trading against professionals that have studied for years and have much more in the way of tools than you do. However, there are some benefits to being a retail trader, as you are able to get in and out of a position very quickly. The retail trader does not have the same obstacles to fast execution as somebody who is trying to move $20 million in currency or any other asset for that matter.

If you start with the mindset of knowing that you have a lot of work ahead of you, but also that great rewards are possible, it is going to serve you well going forward. Furthermore, you have to understand that you must “love the game” or you will lose. It is really that simple because it is such a difficult thing to accomplish. Perseverance comes much more easily for those who are doing something they truly love. If you do not truly love trading, it is going to be very difficult to deal with the ups and downs of a trading career.

How Hard is it to Learn Forex Trading?

One of the great things about Forex trading is that there is lots of free information about it available on the Internet. After all, you can even find plenty of information on this site and it is likely that you will have the ability to try multiple trading strategies for beginners. Beyond that, you also have the ability to open up a demo account, meaning that you do not have to lose money in the process. These are major advantages to trading Forex, above and beyond any other asset. For example, if you are to start learning how to trade futures, demo accounts in that asset class tend to last for 30 days or less.

Going back to the overall difficulty of learning how to trade, it is worth noting that most seasoned traders will tell you that the best trading systems and methodologies are relatively simple. In fact, there is an old adage that the best trading systems should be able to be written on a napkin. Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but the reality is that the simpler the system or methodology, the more likely you are to be able to execute it when the time comes. After all, the biggest problem that a lot of traders have to overcome in the beginning is “analysis paralysis, meaning that they are watching too many variables or indicators simultaneously to be able to make good trading decisions quickly. Simplification is often the way to make money in the long run, because it clears up so much confusion and ensures you do not miss any opportunities.

Back Test Your Trading System(s)

Unfortunately, a lot of retail traders will try to force the issue, and therefore the lack of patience will almost certainly lead to ruin. After all, there are a lot of psychological hurdles when it comes to trading Forex or any other asset class. The markets can and will do whatever they want, no matter how well-planned your trade happens to be. This is why back testing trading systems and understanding their respective merits and weaknesses will become one of your biggest jobs as a trader.

To back test a system, you will have to place theoretical trades in market conditions that will simulate the returns that you can expect as probable. You can do this through various trading platforms and the like, or you can simply look at a chart of historical action and simulate what your trades would have been through several months, if not years. By back testing the system, you will understand what your expected returns might be into the future. However, most people do not work their way through this, so therefore they tend to “system hopping”, meaning that they take a loss or two with a particular trading plan, and then they are off to the next system.

For example, you may have a system that over the longer term tends to be successful at a rate of 60% of traits taken and returns 35% annually. If that is the case, you need to understand that the system also loses 40% of the time. It is very possible at 40% that you may have three losses in a row. If you do not have the faith in your system, this is where you will go looking for the next best thing. This is a cycle that a lot of new traders will fall into, meaning that they may have come across a system that works longer term, but simply have not given it a fair chance. This is where psychological wherewithal and knowing your system comes into play. For example, there are times when a particular system may not work out that well. Perhaps the system tends to do much better in a trending environment instead of a consolidating one, so you need to know that ahead of time. This is what being a trader is, constantly looking at your system and the possibilities of improving them. That being said, you should use a demo account first, because it is far too expensive to risk trading capital in a live account on a hunch or some new methodology that you are dabbling in.

Forex education

How to Speed Up Your Trading Learning Curve

One of the biggest mistakes that new traders make is that they do not do what is so obvious in other professions. I have no idea what it is about trading that makes people overlook the obvious, but there seems to be a lot of it. For example, Twitter is full of experienced traders that can offer insight as to how the markets are moving. There are no excuses as to not learning about the Forex markets, because the amount of market information that is available for free out there is truly astonishing.

Furthermore, although most people want to hurry up and start making money, there are no real shortcuts other than learning from those who already have been there. That is the odd thing about currency traders: they expect to be able to step into the Forex markets and clean up immediately. This is like expecting to be a great physician by simply showing up to the hospital. It takes a significant amount of training and experience to become a world-class trader, and therefore you cannot simply “fall into it.” However, unlike trying to get some type of medical practice going, you do not necessarily have to have an education beyond being self-taught. In that sense, it makes trading one of the best businesses you can be in, as long as you treat it like a business.

Go to where people have already succeeded, that is the advice that anybody who is successful will tell you in any endeavor, and Forex trading is not going to be any different. While there are no shortcuts, taking on a mentor or learning from a professional can help you avoid some of the easily avoided problems out there. You can learn about things like money management, trading systems, fundamental analysis, risk to reward ratios, things like Sharpe ratios to measure a system, and so on. Simply put, somebody that has “already been there” can help you avoid a lot of the most common mistakes.

Final Thoughts

The biggest problem with the question of how long it takes to learn Forex trading, is that the answer will be “it depends”, no matter how you frame the question. After all, no two traders are going to work the same, and it is important to understand that those who work harder are going to get better results. However, one of the things that helped me the most when I first started was reviewing charts every night. I also reviewed charts on the weekends, and even reviewed charts that had nothing to do with Forex. After all, if you are learning how to trade with technical analysis, the chart and timeframe do not truly matter. If you are looking at the charts and notice a bullish flag, it really should not matter what market you are trading. This is where finding a charting package or website that gives you plenty of opportunities to read charts over the weekend will speed your progress. Think of it this way: if the average trader takes a look at ten charts every day, you should be looking at thirty charts minimum. This means you will gain experience three times faster.

Another thing to think about is that some traders have much more of an analytical mind than others. Those who understand the statistics of their trading system will understand that over time they will make money. They will not get shaken by the series of losses that will almost undoubtedly come sooner or later. With that being the case, they understand that if they simply stick to their guns, they will make profits in the end. Furthermore, they do not get stuck in the idea of jumping from one system to the next, which is definitely a long-term losing attitude.

One of the most difficult things to come to terms with its the fact that trading should not be overly complicated. It is strange to think that when you first start trading, in many ways you are probably best suited to make money. This is because you do not fall into bad habits or clutter your mind with an endless flow of new systems or fundamental analysis. As time goes on, we unfortunately add things and start to learn self-doubt due to the cacophony of noise around the Internet that can make things much murkier than necessary. Remember that once you find something that works, there is no need to clutter your mind with any extra baggage. One of the greatest things I have ever heard is that you “trade to live, not the other way around.” It is astonishing how much trouble traders can find themselves in due to the over complicating of issues and not looking at the world as it is.

Finally, I also point out that “price is truth.” Do not over think markets, if they are moving higher, then they are in an uptrend and should only be bought. If they are drifting lower, then that means you should be looking to sell. It is amazing how many retail traders try to pick tops and bottoms, which is probably a sign of trying to “outthink the market.” Simplicity is key, simplicity is profitable.

FAQs

Is it hard to learn Forex trading?

The quick answer is “No.” This is because there are so many different places to learn trading, and the mechanics of trading are not necessarily hard. However, that does not mean that it is easy to be successful.

How long does it take to master trading?

The act of mastering anything takes years, commonly expressed as ten thousand hours. It is not going to be any different for Forex traders, so keep in mind that there is no clear-cut answer. In fact, the art of trading is something that you will constantly be looking to improve upon. “Mastering something” like Forex is a never-ending pursuit.

How can I learn Forex trading fast?

“Fast” is going to be a relative term. It is not necessary to be quick about it, rather it is necessary to be informed about it. You will have ups and downs regardless of what you do, and as a result you should realize that the active learning Forex is not something you do quickly, it is something that you do over the course of a lifetime and career.

Christopher Lewis

Christopher Lewis has been trading Forex for several years. He writes about Forex for many online publications, including his own site, aptly named The Trader Guy.

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