In the world of day trading futures, where markets move at lightning speed, finding balance between your passion for trading and the demands of a full-time job can be akin to walking a tightrope. It’s a challenging endeavor, but with the right mindset and strategies, it’s entirely possible to thrive in both worlds. In this blog, we’ll explore how to day trade futures successfully while managing the responsibilities of a full-time job.
Chapter 1: The Art of Time Management
Finding the Perfect Schedule
Imagine this: you’re in your office, watching your computer screen with bated breath as a potential trading opportunity in the futures market unfolds. You’ve got meetings and deadlines looming, but you’ve also got a dream of financial independence. The key to making this work is crafting a trading schedule that complements your job.
- Early Birds vs. Night Owls: Some day traders prefer to start their trading day before work, while others prefer evening sessions after they’re done. Find what suits you best.
- Lunch Break Trading: Utilize your lunch break for quick trades or monitoring open positions.
- Weekends and Holidays: Reserve longer trading sessions for weekends or holidays when your job isn’t a distraction.
The beauty of the futures markets is that they’re open throughout the day and the evening. Splitting the sessions between the regular trading hours session (New York 9:30 AM EST open to 5:00 PM market close) and the extended hours trading session, often called Globex (New York 6:00 PM EST open to the 9:29:59 AM EST market bell).
Keep in mind that markets open Sunday at 6:00 PM EST and closes on Friday at 5:00 PM EST.
What have you noticed?
That the times are split up in such a way that there is only an hour where the markets are actually closed and there is no trading during these times.
There are Holiday hours to consider as well, that you would do well to keep in mind, they can be found one websites like CME Group and CBOE.
Meaning as someone that works full time, regardless of the time zone you’re in, you have the opportunity to trade one of the most liquid markets in the world.
Trading Equity Futures like S&P500, Nasdaq, Russell 2000 allows traders to enjoy the movement and liquidity of the US equity market regardless of where they are in the world and the times they have to work.
One of the best pieces of news that might enlight people is that the majority of the movement in the Futures Markets happens overnight, meaning in the extended hours session. This is great for Europeans and the Asian market participants. Or those that have day jobs in the Americas!
Breakdown of Trading Hours across the World & The Best Trading Hours for American, European and Asian Traders.
The best market hours to trade, generally are the US open and after the US lunch time.
The majority of the volatility and volume comes out in the Futures equity market between 9:30AM EST to 11:30AM EST. Then theres a breather between the lunch period when things die down and you get the pick of movement again around 1:30 PM EST toward the end of the session 3:30 PM EST.
Trading bell to bell is very difficult from an exhaustion perspective and traders decision-making starts to fall off.
However, working full-time, really puts a wrench in traders gears if they can’t trade at these times.
No fear, there are several options to timing as well as trading types!
There are European sessions as well as the Asian sessions (that overlap).
The European trading hours are around 1:30 AM EST to 11:00 AM EST.
The Asian trading hours are around 8:30 PM EST to 4:00 AM EST.
Meaning there is an injection in market volume and volatility in the US futures market at this time. This allows people with full-time jobs to learn trading part-time.
North & South America
There are multiple time zones in North & South America so it’s not 100% fair to pinpoint just one and break it down.
Let’s use the most prominent time zones: Eastern EST (New York) & Pacific PST (Vancouver, California ETC)
Eastern time zone: Generally people that work full-time are at work from 9 AM to 5 PM.
This suggests that there are hours that you can get into the markets before or after work. There is market volume and movement in the earlier session, 6:00 AM EST to 8:00 AM EST. Along with the evening session, from about 9:00 PM EST to 3:00 AM EST.
Pacific time zone: The Futures market opens at 6:30 AM PST and closes at 2:00 PM PST. This allows traders to trade the EU session at a more reasonable hour. If you work a full-time job in PST you can trade the market open until 8:30 AM PST before work, catching the market open, or trade the 9-10:00 PM PST EU session.
Considering that the US Futures market is almost open for a full 24 hour period, other than the 5:00 to 6:00 PM EST window, there is great opportunity for price movements overnight. As a matter of fact, the majority of the movement actually happens throughout the overnight or evening session.
If you’re in Europe, you might have the most advantageous time zone, you can take a look at the markets before work and after.
Generally speaking there are 3 main time zones in Europe.
The UK (UTC), areas like Spain, Italy, Germany, etc. which are Central European Time (CET), and finally Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria (Deep in Eastern Europe) EET.
UTC is 5 hours ahead of EST, CET is 6 hours ahead and EET is 7 hours ahead.
UTC the US market opens at 2:30 PM UTC.
CET the US market opens at 3:30 PM CET.
EET the US market opens at 4:30 PM EET.
Asia is a little difficult for some to trade the US market hours, however, with a full-time job there is the opportunity. Asia technically has 11 different time zones. They spread from UTC +4 to UTC +10.
Meaning the market in NYC or EST time opens between 6:30 PM EST to 12:00 AM EST time.
So there are multiple different opportunities.
Below is a map of all the time zones in the world to give you a better understanding of where you might get information on when the US equity market is open.
Chapter 2: Research and Preparation
Trading around a full-time job can help you become either a part-time trader or a full-time trader. There are key-takeways around trading with a full time job that do reflect how you trade depending on the time of the day.
So you need to understand the markets you trade, prepare for the time, the trade style, and the product as well.
In the extended hours trading session, based on Eastern Time, the market generally moves slower. This means that you could have a lot of opportunities as a European trader.
Generally speaking, the majority of people that trade the US equity Futures market are in North America, or the Americas in general.
If you trade the pre-market or the extended hours session you will probably have slower market moves generally, however, you still have the opportunity of finding larger moves.
Trading Styles with a Full-Time Job (Trading the Extended Hours sessions)
Trading around the Extended Trading Hours, between 6:00 PM EST and 9:29:59 AM EST the following day, would require traders to change their style slightly.
Trading pre-market, around 5:00 AM EST to 8:00 AM EST you will have some solid opportunities however markets don’t move quickly constantly, it’s hard to anticipate which days will be quicker movers than others.
This means that you can lean a little more on large moves for your trades. Traders that look at this would be better off using Volume and Market profiles to break down market direction and key levels more so than watching the market constantly.
During these hours, you can be active in the market and can find multiple trade setups, so you can tie together both order flow and distribution or auction theory.
You can find a lot more information on Distribution Theory here.
As well as Order Flow here. Keep in mind that our website has a FREE Futures Trading Course you can sign up for.
Take a look at the imagery below, this is a 10-tick range bar chart. Which means every 10 ticks of movement we create a new candle. That means candle movement is not based on time, rather it’s based on the actual movement of the chart.
The white blocks are 1:30 AM EST to 6:00 AM EST the red blocks are 6:00 AM EST to 9:29:59 AM EST (a second before market open). Then you have the market open which is the block block.
If you’re trading deep in the overnight session, traders would want to consider the 1:30 AM EST time start, this is around when Europe opens, wakes up and gets active in the markets, the volume can pick up slightly before that.
However during these times you can see some solid market movement, you would want to keep in mind where your levels and trade zones are. This would be more so based on the volume and market profile levels.
Trading during this overnight session I would take a more “levels” based approach and trade with a slightly larger stop, look to allow price to play out during the overnight session, without having to be in front of the screen the whole time.
What you would rather is find a key level, enter and let the price work out with a wider stop and take profit. The deeper you are in the night, closer to 2:00 or 3:00 AM EST the more you can look for active trades and trade infront of the screen more consistently.
Another option is if you’re trading in a different time zone and you can catch either the morning US session (9:30 AM EST to 11:00 AM EST) or the US afternoon session (1:30 PM EST to 3:30 PM EST).
Catching a small move a day is a big pay.
One of the best things about trading futures, other than the asset is highly leveraged, is that you don’t need to sit in front of the screen for a very long extended period of time.
1-2 singular trades a day can make the day.
The S&P500 (ES) E-mini Futures are worth $50 per point per contract. Meaning that 1 move that is worth 5 points (a common occurrence) can yield $250 per contract. You don’t need to be in front of the computer for several hours to find these moves.
Take into consideration the imagery below. TRADEPRO Academy had a trade set up from the 4361 region, down into the 4359 region for a long trade. This trade was seen into 1:00 PM EST time. Traded 3-4 times from the level for 10-12 points at a time and the final time 20 points.
These were available for 3 hours into the close of the cash session.
There were 3 moves of 10 points, $500 a contract per move, total of $1,500 for all three moves.
The final move was 20 points, $1,000 per contract on the trade, total $2,500 available for a three hour period.
As a trader, you catch one of those moves and you don’t have to be around all day. Not to mention these moves happen off key levels overnight as well. At all times realistically, not just during the regular trading hours.
How to find these moves and cut down the wait time in the markets? I got the answer.
These areas and moves are based on the concept of distribution theory that you can find above (in the article link).
The goal is to find key distribution ledges to identify where strong handed traders are expected to appear.
Using a simple 50-day profile can help you start the identification process of these areas.
Not to mention (Victorio lives in Europe, so hes identifying trade opportunties and trades themselves at all hours.)
Below is an example of some key levels (white lines) that can be found on the larger profile to identify key trades zones. 3
Trading Room Setup
Efficiency is paramount when you have limited time. Setting up an optimal trading environment at home or in your office is crucial.
- Multiple Monitors: Consider investing in multiple monitors to keep an eye on various charts and data feeds simultaneously.
- Fast Internet Connection: A high-speed internet connection is non-negotiable.
- Backup Power Supply: Avoid disruptions during power outages with a backup power supply.
- Noise-Canceling Headphones: If you’re trading from a busy office, noise-canceling headphones can help you stay focused.
Chapter 3: Risk Management
Risk Management is a highly important part of trading, regardless of when you do it. This is the most important concept of trading and being able to mange risk will always allow traders to progress. If you are trading outside of market hours, the moves might be slower, however a lot of traders opt to trade with larger stops and smaller size to allow for price moves to actually play out and let the trade move for hours.
Trading futures involves risk, and when you’re juggling a job, preserving your trading capital is vital.
- Set Strict Stop-Loss Orders: Define your risk tolerance and use stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.
- Position Sizing: Only risk a small percentage of your trading capital on each trade.
- Avoid Overtrading: Don’t be tempted to overtrade during work hours; quality over quantity is key.
Chapter 4: Leveraging Technology
Trading Apps and Automation
Technology can be your ally. Leverage trading apps and automation to make your life easier.
- Mobile Trading Apps: Use mobile apps to monitor your positions and execute trades on the go.
- Algorithmic Trading: Consider automated trading strategies that can execute trades based on predefined criteria.
The software that is used:
- Sierra Chart, for charting & Broker. Some traders opt in for Jigsaw or for Ninja Trader
Chapter 5: Continuous Learning
Stay Informed and Adaptive
The futures market is dynamic, and it’s essential to stay updated and adapt to changing conditions.
- Education: Invest in your trading education through online courses, webinars, and books.
- Market News: Subscribe to news feeds and follow financial news to understand market sentiment.
- Backtesting: Analyze past trades to identify strengths and weaknesses in your strategy.
TRADEPRO Academy is just for that, let us help you understand trading at any hour of the day better.
We provide a full in depth futures course, if you want a taste of what it is we have, check out the free futures trading course on our website.
TRADEPRO Academy also does the analysis for you in our Discord & Live Trading Rooms, not to mention create trade ideas, and set ups for you.
There is a lot of information and resources that we provide.
This is a plan we set on Friday, Sep 22, 2023 and below is the play out of the plan:
How did the plan play out? Not to mention we traded the plan live in front of our traders.
Dip and rip, we pullback to the 4379 region where the trading room was notified we’re going long, overall 15-20 point move. Worth $750 to $1,000 per contract.
The plan identified a key region in 4395 as the order flow pivot, this area sold off on limited risk 3 times, the final made a 30 point drop lower or $1,500 per contract.
Chapter 6: Psychological Resilience
Balancing a full-time job and day trading can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Develop mental resilience.
- Meditation and Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques to stay calm under pressure.
- Keep Realistic Expectations: Understand that trading is not a get-rich-quick scheme; it requires patience and discipline.
- Seek Support: Connect with a trading community or mentor for guidance and emotional support.
Come join our community, you can access to a FREE room before committing to our paid version.
Day trading futures with a full-time job is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s a path that many successful traders have navigated. It requires dedication, time management, continuous learning, and emotional resilience. By finding the right balance and staying disciplined, you can pursue your passion for trading while maintaining job security.
Remember, it’s not about how much time you have; it’s about how effectively you use the time you’ve got. With the right strategy and mindset, you can make your day trading dreams a reality, one trade at a time. So, take that first step, and may the futures market bring you the success you seek.