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What Is a Forex Currency Trader?

Forex traders (foreign exchange traders) anticipate changes in currency prices and take trading positions in currency pairs on the foreign exchange market to profit from a change in currency demand. They can execute trades for financial institutions, on behalf of clients, or as individual investors. To make profitable trades, forex traders need to be comfortable with massive amounts of data and rely on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative analysis to predict currency price movements.    
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How to Become a Forex Currency Trader

A bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level forex trader positions. A degree in economics, business administration, mathematics, statistics, finance, or a finance-related major will be beneficial, but forex traders can come from a variety of different backgrounds. An internship in a trading environment is useful, and any international experience or fluency in multiple languages can be a valuable differentiator from other applicants.

Some popular entry-level jobs to become a forex trader include forex market analyst and currency researchers.

Forex traders can be self-employed or work for brokerages, hedge funds, and institutional investors such as investment banks, multinational banks and corporations, investment management firms, or central banks.

To learn how to start forex trading, you'll want to start with the fundamentals. Here are some key concepts to start with:

  • The foreign exchange market (FX)
  • Foreign exchange risk
  •  International currencies
  •  Currency pairs
  •  Base currency & quote currency or counter currency
  •  How to analyze foreign market news & market conditions
  •  Historical currency trends
  •  The spot market
  •  Buy positions & sell positions
  •  Leverage in forex trading

Depending on the job you want, it may also be helpful to know how to trade other financial instruments like commodities and derivatives. 

If you're looking to get started as an individual trader, you'll need to do some research on forex trading platforms for retail investors and open an account with an online broker before you can make your first currency trade.

Is a Forex Trading Career Right for Me?

To enjoy a forex trading career and excel in that career path, candidates should see themselves in the following list of skills:

  • Strong mathematics ability
  • Problem-solving & analytical skills
  • Technical & fundamental analysis
  • Strategic thinking & planning
  • Meticulous record-keeping
  • Self-directed learner

To excel in a forex trading career, you will need to be comfortable in a high-stakes environment and prepared to handle appropriate levels of risk in your trading. With large amounts of capital and assets on the line, having a calm and steady demeanor in the face of ebbs and flows in currency markets can be helpful.

What are Foreign Exchange Markets?

As a forex trader, you will get to know the foreign exchange market very well. The FX market is the world's largest financial market by a significant margin and operates as a decentralized global market for currency trading. Operating 24 hours a day, five days a week, this highly liquid global market is comprised of participants in every time zone, including banks, commercial companies, hedge funds, and individual investors, to name a few. Instead of a central exchange, financial centers, such as New York and Hong Kong, act as hubs for forex trades. These types of markets without centralized exchanges are called over-the-counter or OTC marketplaces.

The foreign exchange market plays a large part in making international trade possible. Multinational businesses use it to hedge against future exchange rate fluctuations to prevent unexpected drastic shifts in business costs. Individual investors also get involved in the marketplace with currency speculation to improve their own financial situation.

The foreign exchange market can be an overwhelmingly complex and nuanced place, especially if you've never participated in a currency market before, so new traders typically start with their home market for their base currency and create a currency pair with other major currencies. As they develop strategies and gain experience, they often build out from there with additional currency pairs and time frames. Individual currencies are referred to by a three-letter code set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This uniform code makes everything from evaluating an individual currency to reviewing a foreign currency exchange rate easier.     

Other Possible Career Tracks in Finance

Interested in exploring other financial roles beyond the role of a foreign exchange trader? Other market-focused roles include:

How Can the CFA Program Help Me?

Forex is one of many important domains for investors and the investment industry that are covered through the CFA® Program. Because CFA charter holders have mastered a curriculum that provides comprehensive investment expertise, many employers list the CFA designation as a preferred credential for consultant roles. The CFA charter prepares professionals to adapt to the continually changing demands of the investment industry.


Explore whether CFA Program is the right choice for your next career steps

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