Are Prop Trading Jobs Right for You?

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 21, 2024

Proprietary trading, also known as prop trading, is a type of trading where financial firms use their own funds to make trades in the financial markets. Prop trading jobs can be highly lucrative and offer a unique opportunity for individuals with a strong understanding of the financial markets and trading strategies. However, proprietary trading is not suitable for everyone and requires a specific set of skills and characteristics to be successful.

Proprietary trading roles typically require a solid grounding in finance, economics, and trading concepts, as well as strong analytical and quantitative skills. It is crucial for individuals considering a career in prop trading to have a passion for the financial markets and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt to changing market conditions. If you possess the necessary skills, resilience, and dedication, a prop trading job may be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for you.

What is a Prop Trader?

A prop or proprietary trader works for investment banks, hedge funds, financial institutions or trading firms. They either trade with the company money or their own money rather than on a client’s behalf. These traders generally trade full-time.

They can use sophisticated trading strategies and technologies to harness market inefficiencies and price changes. Prop traders might receive a percentage of the profit as income and incentives to make more profit.

They operate in various financial markets, including stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities. These traders may concentrate on a type of asset or market, growing their specialization in a particular area. Alternatively, they may be generalist traders.

How to Become a Prop Trader?

Becoming a prop trader can be a lucrative opportunity. To get a head start, you may be best off with a combination of education, experience and a record of successful trading to become a prop trader. However, some firms may also offer training. The career steps follow.

  • Step 1 – Good education: A degree in finance, economics or a related field will give you a better understanding of financial markets, trading and risk management.
  • Step 2 – Develop relevant experience: Internships or entry-level positions at financial firms like banks, hedge funds or proprietary trading firms provide valuable experience in market analysis and trading.
  • Step 3 – Build trading skills: Embark on self-study courses or find an experienced trader to mentor you. Some traders trade with their own capital, building a trade history.
  • Step 4 – Apply to proprietary trading firms: Prop trading firms often recruit traders through online applications or job postings. Some may ask for a trading record, while others may provide new traders with training and support.
  • Step 5 – Pass the required exams: Some trading firms expect you to pass regulatory exams. Understand the requirements before applying at these firms.

How to Choose a Prop Trading Platform?

You should carefully research and choose the prop trading platform you plan to use. The choices can affect your trading performance, costs and market access. Here are some tips on choosing the best platform.

Choice of the Trading Instrument

Choose a platform with access to trading instruments that align with your preferences, goals and trading strategy. For example, you may be more knowledgeable about trading stocks versus bonds and choose a platform accordingly.

Compare Fees

Proprietary trading platforms may charge commissions, spread or transaction fees. Find a cost-effective option by comparing the costs of operating across several platforms.

Profit Split

Many proprietary trading companies don’t offer a base salary. Prop traders depend on the profit split for income. Understand how the commission and bonuses work before you sign up.

Choose a Trading Platform that Supports Analysis

Look for a platform with user-friendly and stable trading software. Some platforms offer advanced charting and analysis tools and customization features. Choose the features that suit your trading style and strategies.

Access to Liquidity and Multiple Markets

Ample access will increase your chances of trading at the best prices to maximize profit.

Compliance and Adequate Risk Management

Choose a platform that complies with relevant regulatory requirements. The platform should also offer risk management tools like stop-loss orders and position limits.

Support and Education

Many platforms offer excellent training and educational resources. You can use these to improve your skills and knowledge. Customer support and service are vital aspects of a good proprietary trading platform.

Reputation and Reviews

Consider the reviews and reputation of the platform and the firm that operates it. Look for a record of transparency, fairness, and reliability.

Why Should You Become a Prop Trader?

Proprietary trading may not be a commonly discussed career in schools, but there are several benefits to becoming a prop trader.

  • High earning potential: Prop traders can earn a significant amount of money. Traders use the firm’s capital and, if successful, might earn a generous profit percentage.
  • Flexible and autonomous work: Prop trading jobs generally are flexible and offer a high degree of autonomy. Traders don’t manage client accounts directly or report to external stakeholders.
  • Fast-paced and dynamic work environment: Prop trading jobs are fast-paced, challenging and exciting. Traders analyze market data to identify trading opportunities. They must quickly execute trades to take advantage of prospects.
  • Access to sophisticated trading tools and technologies: Prop trading firms offer traders access to advanced trading technologies, software and data analysis tools. Traders can use these technologies to make informed trading decisions and maximize profits.
  • Ongoing learning and development: Prop traders must keep abreast of the latest market trends and trading strategies. Organizations providing capital may offer prop traders continuous learning and development.

Considerations with Prop Trading

A career in proprietary trading is not an easy task. Here are the factors to reflect on if you’re considering a prop trading job.

  • Risk: Proprietary traders can put on positions that risk significant loss. Understand how to place stop-loss orders to limit risk and consider diversified strategies to mitigate risk.
  • Capital requirements: Some prop trading firms expect traders to fund a minimum deposit, trading with a percentage of their own funds. You must understand these requirements and have sufficient funds to meet them.
  • Performance requirements: Prop trading firms may expect traders to meet pre-determined performance requirements. Understand what they are to ensure you have the skills and experience to meet them. These requirements may be unforgiving and add extra stress to the job.
  • Trading style: Ensure that your trading style aligns with the firm's expectations.
  • Regulatory requirements: Regulatory requirements, like licensing and registration, may apply to proprietary traders. You must comply with all relevant regulations to avoid legal issues.
  • Work-life balance: Proprietary trading is a demanding and high-pressure career. To avoid burnout, you will want to maintain a reasonable work-life balance.

Prop Trading Jobs: Risk vs. Reward

The decision to pursue a prop trading job is ultimately dependent on your personal goals and preferences. If you are looking for higher potential returns and can handle the higher risk associated with it, then prop trading may be something to consider.

On the other hand, if you prefer more stability in your career and don't mind a lower return rate, then a more traditional job may suit you better. Ultimately, it is important to assess your own risk tolerance and know what kind of job would be most suitable for you.

Compare Prop Trading Firms

Benzinga offers insights and reviews of the most prominent trading firms. These include the best forex prop trading firms and top proprietary trading firms. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Is prop trading a good career?

Proprietary trading is a good career choice for people who enjoy a dynamic and challenging work environment. Prop trading jobs can offer a lucrative income to those who succeed in their trading career.

Is it hard to get a job as a prop trader?


It may be hard to get a job as a prop trader, but many prop trading jobs are available, especially for traders with working strategies. It all starts with a plan.


How much do prop traders make?


Prop traders’ potential earnings can vary significantly depending on factors such as their experience, skill level, performance, and the trading firm they work for. Experienced prop traders with a proven track record of success can earn six to seven figures annually, with top performers making millions of dollars.