How To Become A Successful Forex Trader

Forex traders just starting out in the forex market are often unprepared for what lies ahead and, as such, end up undergoing the same life cycle: first they dive in headfirst, usually losing their first account, and then they either give up or take a step back, do a little more research, and open a demo account to practice. Those who do this will often eventually open another live account and experience a little more success, breaking even or turning a profit. To help avoid the losses from hastily diving into forex trading, this article will introduce you to a framework for a medium-term forex trading system to get you started on the right foot, help you save money, and ultimately become a profitable retail forex trader.

Why Medium Term?

So, why are we focusing on medium-term forex trading? Why not long-term or short-term strategies? To answer that question, let’s take a look at the following comparison table:

Now, you will notice that both short-term and long-term forex traders require a large amount of capital – the first type needs it to generate enough leverage, and the other to cover volatility. Although these two types of forex traders exist in the marketplace, they are often positions held by high-net-worth individuals or larger funds. For these reasons, Forex traders are most likely to succeed using a medium-term strategy.

The Basic Framework of a Forex Trader

The framework of the strategy covered in this article will focus on one central concept: trading with the odds. To do this, we will look at a variety of techniques in multiple time frames to determine whether a given trade is worth taking. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a mechanical/automatic trading system; rather, it is a system by which you will receive technical input and make a decision based upon it. The key is finding situations where all (or most) of the technical signals point in the same direction. These high-probability trading situations will, in turn, generally be profitable.

Chart Creation and Markup Selecting a Trading Program

We will be using a free program called MetaTrader to illustrate this trading strategy; however, many other similar programs can also be used that will yield the same results. (For more tips on how to find one, see Forex Automation Software For Hands-Free Trading.) There are two basic things the trading program must have:

the ability to display three different time frames simultaneously
the ability to plot technical indicators, such as moving averages (EMA and SMA), relative strength index (RSI), stochastics and moving average convergence divergence (MACD)

Setting up the Indicators

Now we will look at how to set up this strategy in your chosen trading program. We will also define a collection of technical indicators with rules associated with them. These technical indicators are used as a filter for your trades.

If a forex trader chooses to use more indicators than shown here, you will create a more reliable system that will generate fewer trading opportunities. Conversely, if you choose to use fewer indicators than shown here, you will create a less reliable system that will generate more trading opportunities. Here are the settings that we will use for this article:

Minute-by-minute candlestick chart

RSI (15)
stochastics (15,3,3)
MACD (Default)

Hourly candlestick chart

EMA (100)
EMA (10)
EMA (5)
MACD (Default)

Daily candlestick chart

SMA (100)

Now you will want to incorporate the use of some of the more subjective studies, such as the following:

Significant trend lines that you see in any of the time frames
Fibonacci retracements, arcs or fans that you see in the hourly or daily charts
Support or resistance that you see in any of the time frames
Pivot points calculated from the previous day to the hourly and minutely charts
chart patterns that you see in any of the time frames

Finding Entry and Exit Points

The key to finding entry points is to look for times in which all of the indicators point in the same direction. Moreover, the signals of each time frame should support the timing and direction of the trade. There are a few particular instances that you should look for:


Bullish candlestick engulfings or other formations
Trendline/channel breakouts upwards
Positive divergences in RSI, stochastics and MACD
Moving average crossovers (shorter crossing over longer)
Strong, close support and weak, distant resistance


Bearish candlestick engulfings or other formations
Trendline/channel breakouts downwards
Negative divergences in RSI, stochastics and MACD
Moving average crossovers (shorter crossing under longer)
Strong, close resistance and weak, distant support

It is a good idea to place exit points (both stop losses and take profits) before even placing the trade. These levels should be set at key levels and only changed if the premise for your trade changes (often as a result of fundamentals coming into play). You can place these exit points at key levels, including:

  • Just before areas of strong support or resistance
  • At key Fibonacci levels (retracements, fans or arcs)
  • Just inside of key trend lines or channels

Money Management and Risk

Money management is key to success in any marketplace but particularly in the forex market, which is one of the most volatile markets to trade. Many times, fundamental factors can send currency rates swinging in one direction only to whipsaw into another in mere minutes. So, it’s important to keep your losses as low as possible by always using stop-loss points and only trading when good opportunities come up.

Here are a few specific ways in which you can limit risk:

Tips To Become A Successful Forex Trader

Becoming a profitable forex trader is possible, but it requires education, skill development, and diligence. While appealing for its 24/7 access and potential rewards, forex trading is complex with a steep learning curve. With proper dedication, however, anyone can master forex trading fundamentals and join the ranks of successful retail traders.

This comprehensive guide covers key steps to becoming a successful forex trader including:

  • Developing basic forex knowledge
  • Choosing a broker and account
  • Building trading discipline and psychology
  • Mastering technical and fundamental analysis
  • Backtesting trading strategies
  • Managing risks and position sizing
  • Gaining consistency through practice

Follow this roadmap to transform from forex beginner to professional trader.

Develop Basic Forex Knowledge

Before trading live, build foundational knowledge:

  • Understand basics – Learn terms like pips, lots, margin, leverage, going long/short, order types, volatility, liquidity, and technical versus fundamental analysis.
  • Study currency pairs – Majors like EUR/USD offer stability for beginners. Learn behaviors of other popular pairs like GBP/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CAD.
  • Monitor news/data – Fundamental events like interest rate changes, GDP, and elections drive trends. Follow calendars like Forexfactory.
  • Recognize trends/ranges – Identify how economic factors lead to persistent trends or rangebound consolidation. Apply indicators like moving averages.
  • Learn candlestick patterns – Master daily chart candle signals for common patterns like doji, engulfing, hammer, hanging man, shooting star.
  • Study chart technicals – Trendlines, support/resistance levels, chart patterns all reveal trading opportunities. Apply tools like MACD, Stochastics, RSI.

Books, courses, forums, and practice accounts all build knowledge. Absorb all learnings before going live.

Choose a Reputable Broker and Account

A regulated forex broker provides the trading platform, pricing, execution, and account services required to buy and sell currencies. Carefully choose a broker that aligns with your needs as a beginner:

  • Regulation – Select a broker regulated by authorities like NFA, ASIC, FCA based on your location. This ensures security of funds.
  • Spreads/commissions – Check all trading costs. Variable spreads are common in forex. Some brokers charge fixed spreads or commissions per trade.
  • Execution quality – Your broker should provide fast execution and price transparency. Review slippage policies and data.
  • Trading platform – Platforms like MT4, MT5, NinjaTrader, cTrader come with charts, analysis tools, backtesting. Ensure platform suits your needs.
  • Account options – Many brokers offer demo accounts to practice with virtual funds. Standard and ECN accounts are common account types.
  • Customer service – Check reviews and test response time when evaluating brokers. Quick, 24/7 support is ideal.

Build Trading Discipline and Psychology

Success in trading requires cultivated habits and mental skills:

  • Start small – Open live accounts with just a few hundred dollars to minimize risk when starting out. Slowly increase size as skills improve.
  • Follow rules – Develop and stick to defined trade plans detailing criteria for setups, risk management, entries and exits. Execute all trades according to this framework.
  • Accept losses – Losses are inevitable. Set stop losses on every trade and limit loss amounts to a small percentage of capital through position sizing.
  • Trade management – Once in trades, use trailing stops to lock in profits as price moves favorably. Monitor trades proactively but avoid overmanaging.
  • Review performance – Keep detailed records of all trades. Continually review statistics to improve weaknesses.
  • Cultivate patience – Wait calmly for high probability, high confidence setups. Avoid overtrading and forcing marginal trades. Less is often more.

Discipline leads to consistency. Follow rules, size correctly, limit losses, review trades, and build patience over time.

Master Technical and Fundamental Analysis

Analysis helps spot profitable trades. Learn both:

Technical analysis – Identifies trades based on historical price patterns and market data. Methods include:

  • Price action – Tracking support, resistance, trends, candle patterns
  • Indicators – Oscillators, moving averages reveal momentum, oversold/overbought levels
  • Chart patterns – Well-known formations signal continuations or reversals

Fundamental analysis – Examines macroeconomic events that drive currency valuations. Monitor:

  • Interest rates – Central bank rate decisions and outlooks move forex markets
  • Economic data – GDP, employment, inflation indicate financial health
  • Political changes – Elections, new leaders, can impact currency stability
  • Credit ratings – Downgrades increase default risk, devaluing currency

Apply a blend of technical and fundamental analysis to pinpoint high probability trades with optimal timing.

Backtest Trading Strategies

Historical backtesting helps determine if a strategy has an edge before risking capital. Steps include:

  • Code strategy into an automated trading system or use platform tools
  • Apply strategy to past price data for the currency pair
  • Calculate performance metrics like win rate, profit factor, drawdown
  • Assess results across many market conditions
  • Refine strategy to improve performance
  • Forward test the strategy in real-time before going live

Never trade discretionary or with real money until backtesting proves a strategy works consistently.

Use Effective Risk and Money Management

Managing risk on each trade is critical to trading longevity:

  • Limit leverage – Use only as much margin as account size warrants. Undercapitalization leads to overleveraging.
  • Size correctly – Calculate position size so risk per trade is ~1-2% of account capital.
  • Utilize stop losses – Place protective stops on every trade to limit downside if price moves against you.
  • Diversify – Trade multiple uncorrelated currency pairs using a variety of strategies and timeframes.
  • Limit positions – Avoid excessive open trades and exposure. Monitor total monthly losses.
  • Trade small – Only risk discretionary income, not funds needed to cover living expenses.
  • Avoid emotional trading – Don’t chase losses or overtrade. Remain detached from outcomes.

Thorough risk management allows sustaining through normal trading ebbs and flows.

Gain Consistency Through Screen Time and Practice

Mastering the forex markets requires extensive screen time observing price movements and actively trading in all market conditions over years. This process takes dedication but consistency will grow with experience. Additional tips include:

  • Trade patiently – Wait for your criteria to fully align before entering trades. Avoid rushing or overtrading.
  • Review trades daily – Identify mistakes immediately as lessons to improve future performance.
  • Refine process – Regularly examine win rates, risk/reward ratios, and adjust strategy.
  • Expand knowledge – Read books, take courses continuously to build on fundamentals.
  • Remain flexible – As a beginner expect frequent small tweaks to your process as you gain skills.

With deliberate practice and perseverance, you can achieve consistent profitability trading forex.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a profitable forex trader?

Most new traders take around 6 months to become consistently profitable if dedicating at least 2-3 hours daily to education, demo trading, and review. Expect losing initial live trades until gaining experience. Significant screen time, likely years, is required before reaching intermediate skill level.

What percentage of forex traders fail?

Estimates suggest 70-95% of forex traders lose money and quit within one year primarily due to lack of education and overleveraging. Approach forex trading as a learned skill with realistic expectations, not a get rich quick scheme. Take time to gain experience before risking significant capital.

How much capital is required to trade forex successfully?

Start with a minimum of $500, ideally $2,000-$5,000 trading capital. This allows properly sizing positions using a maximum 1-2% risk per trade given typical forex stop losses of 20-50 pips. Only trade funds you can afford to lose and are not needed for living expenses.

What is the #1 mistake forex traders make?

Overleveraging and poor risk management leads to margin calls and blown accounts for many beginners. Other common mistakes include lack of a strategy, overtrading, excessive lot sizes, inadequate stops, chasing losses, and lacking a trading plan. Focus on managing risks first.

How many pips should you aim for daily?

Expect an average daily range of 50-150 pips per currency pair. Aim for 10-30 pips profit per trade scaling quantity based on volatility and stop distance. This adds up to 100-300+ pips daily over multiple trades. Trades held for days can result in thousands of pips.

Can I do forex trading full time?

Trading forex full time is possible once reaching an intermediate skill level, which takes most traders years of education and consistent practice. Ensure you can generate steady profits over months before considering full time trading. Expect frequent small losses and mark ups/downs. Manage risks and stress carefully.

Is it better to day trade or swing trade forex?

Day trading provides regular opportunities but requires sitting at screens for hours processing many trades. Swing trading focuses on larger trends and sustaining positions overnight or for days, but offers flexibility for part-time traders. Choose the timeframe that fits your temperament and schedule.

How do I choose the best currency pairs to trade?

When starting, focus on one major pair like EUR/USD and add GBP/USD and USD/JPY once experienced. Majors offer the best liquidity and movement for beginners. Over time you can expand into minor or exotic pairs. Stick with currencies you understand fundamentally.

Should I use high leverage trading forex?

Use leverage of 10:1 or lower when starting out. Higher leverage of 50:1+ is very risky for beginners. As skills improve, you can increase leverage in line with larger accounts and stronger risk management. Always size positions correctly within account size and risk tolerance.

How do professional forex traders control risk?

Experts use tight stop losses, limit position sizing to a maximum of say 5% of capital per trade, diversify across uncorrelated pairs, avoid overtrading or martingale strategies, focus on favorable risk/reward setups, and manage trades effectively once entered by trailing stops or exiting partial lots at key levels.


Becoming a successful retail forex trader and avoiding common pitfalls requires education, screen time, and discipline. Follow the steps outlined here to methodically gain knowledge, develop trade plans combining analysis techniques, master risk management, and gain experience through practice. With dedication and perseverance, you can profit consistently in forex trading long-term.

Best and Most Trusted Forex Brokers

Based on regulation, award recognition, mainstream credibility, and overwhelmingly positive client feedback, these six brokers stand out for their sterling reputations:

NoBrokerRegulationMin. DepositPlatformsAccount TypesOfferOpen New Account
1.RoboForexFSC Belize$10MT4, MT5, RTraderStandard, Cent, Zero SpreadWelcome Bonus $30Open RoboForex Account
2.AvaTradeASIC, FSCA$100MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero SpreadTop Forex BrokerOpen AvaTrade Account
3.ExnessFCA, CySEC$1MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero SpreadFree VPSOpen Exness Account
4.XMASIC, CySEC, FCA$5MT4, MT5Standard, Micro, Zero Spread20% Deposit BonusOpen XM Account
5.ICMarketsSeychelles FSA$200MT4, MT5, CTraderStandard, Zero SpreadBest Paypal BrokerOpen ICMarkets Account
6.XBTFXASIC, CySEC, FCA$10MT4, MT5Standard, Zero SpreadBest USA BrokerOpen XBTFX Account
7.VantageASIC, CySEC, FCA$50MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero Spread20% Deposit BonusOpen Vantage Account
8.FXTMFSC Mauritius$10MT4, MT5Standard, Micro, Zero SpreadWelcome Bonus $50Open FXTM Account
9.FBSASIC, CySEC, FCA$5MT4, MT5Standard, Cent, Zero Spread100% Deposit BonusOpen FBS Account
10.BinanceDASP$10Binance PlatformsN/ABest Crypto BrokerOpen Binance Account
11.TradingViewUnregulatedFreeTradingViewN/ABest Trading PlatformOpen TradingView Account

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- Warren Buffett

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