A Day in The Life of a Wall Street Trader

If you’re interested in becoming a Wall Street trader, get ready for an action-packed career that’s full of ups and downs. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the job outlook is set to grow by about 15% through the year 2020, which is about as fast as average. Also, although the median salary is just over $70,000 per year, there are significant fluctuations depending on individual success and general market conditions. Keep reading to learn more about what you might do during a typical day of trading on Wall Street.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Getting Ready for the Day

Because you may be trading in international markets, expect to be an early riser, ready to sit at a desk on the trading floor by about 6:30 every morning. On your way to work, you might use a tablet device or smartphone to read the latest versions of financial newspapers, but as soon as the commute is over, it’s time to hit the trading floor.

What Does a Trading Floor Look Like?

If you’ve ever seen news coverage of the trading floor, your impression might be that it’s all about people yelling at each other and hoping that the markets close in a favorable way. Although these high-pressure trading floors do exist, most of them are more low-key. While working as a trader, you’ll probably notice that most trading floors are big rooms filled with rows of long desks.

Watching the Markets

Traders from the same group often sit near each other and spend their time gazing at monitors that chronicle what the markets are doing. Some traders have several monitors so they can minimize the time spent switching between different windows. As you sit down at your desk, you may have five or more monitors to watch throughout the day.

Besides keeping an eye on the monitors that broadcast news about the markets, you’ll also probably access a financial information service called Bloomberg. It’ll tell you about any stocks you’re interested in via real-time information. The prices for securities changes by the second, but Bloomberg has features that allow you to look at how stocks in certain sectors are performing. That’s particularly useful if you’re a trader who specializes in certain industries like technology or energy.

Making the Trades

Some Wall Street traders deal with hundreds of individual stocks on a daily basis. To make things easier, you’ll use a specially designed platform that allows you to place orders quickly and also look at how pending orders are progressing.

What About Breaks?

Most successful Wall Street traders go to great lengths to make sure they don’t miss any important happenings. This means limiting your bathroom breaks so they’re as short as possible and also having lunch brought to your desk by a secretary, so you can wolf it down while still staying informed of developments.

The Close of the Day

Monitoring the markets is a constant necessity, and even if you see some gains, it’s often hard to relax, due to a slight paranoia that things could change in an instant. Around 5 o’clock, your day on the trading floor is done, but if you’re serious about staying competitive, you’ll continue expanding your knowledge about the financial industry even during off-hours.

As you prepare dinner and get ready for bed, any bits of free time might be filled with the same kind of analysis you started your day with and got engrossed in all day on the trading floor, only so you can feel informed when you wake up and do it all over again.

About the Author: Author Jena Daniels blogs for business sites. Interested in combining your interest in trading with a successful business? One option to prepare for your career is to get an mba degree online from Pepperdine.