August 28


How To Trade With A Full Time Job

By Jeff Swanson

August 28, 2023

Algorithmic Trading, day trading, TradeStation

Over 15 years ago, I had the great idea of becoming a day trader. The dream of financial freedom was a distant mirage, tantalizing yet elusive. The world of trading beckoned, promising a path to independence and control. With a heart full of hope, I opened an Etrade account, ready to embark on a journey I thought would be easy. Well, the market has something else in store for me. 

The early days of trading were filled with excitement and anticipation. Each morning, I would study trade setups, attempting to seize opportunities at the market open before rushing off to work. But the path was not as smooth as I had imagined. Monitoring trades between meetings and work commitments became a battle against time. But the biggest issue was something I did not anticipate. My emotions. I was not in control. I took invalid trades, moved stops, and exited trades too early. I would take revenge trades because I was so mad at the market for taking my hard-earned cash. Other times I would be too frighted to open a new trade. I'm sure you can relate.

The dance with the market became a delicate and exhausting balancing act, leaving me lost and frustrated. My trading journey had taken a wrong turn, and I lost money, feeling defeated by the endeavor I had embraced with such enthusiasm.

The Algorithmic Trading Revelation

I was experiencing the "valley of despair." This term is often used in psychology to describe a low point in an individual's journey, particularly during a process of learning, growth, or transformation. It's not a formal psychological concept but a metaphorical description that can be applied in various contexts. In short, the valley of despair is the low point where the challenges feel overwhelming, and the initial optimism has turned into disillusionment and despair. The individual may feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to proceed. It's a critical stage where some may give up while others find ways to persevere. 

Yep, that sounds like me. 

But from the valley of despair, a beacon of hope emerged: algorithmic trading. 

As I emerged from the valley of despair in my trading journey took an innovative approach that offered a way to trade without being chained to the screen, without the emotional biases, and without the relentless pressure of manual decision-making. It was not just a tool but a revelation, a strategic solution that opened doors to a new horizon. 

Algo trading is the process of using computer algorithms to place and manage trades according to a predefined set of rules (strategies). Imagine a seasoned trader who never sleeps, never succumbs to emotions, and executes your trading plan with machine-like precision. That's algo trading.

Here's why algo trading became my trading superpower:

1. Consistency: Algo trading follows the rules to the letter, ensuring consistent execution of your trading strategy. It doesn't get tired, distracted, or fearful. It trades the plan, every time.

2. Discipline: Emotional decisions were my downfall as a discretionary trader. Algo trading removed that weakness, executing trades without hesitation or doubt, free from the psychological traps that ensnare human traders.

3. Trading While at Work: With algo trading, my trading didn't stop when my day job began. The algorithms worked in the background, scanning the markets, placing trades, and managing positions. At the same time, I focused on my full-time job.

Backtesting and Optimization: Algo trading allowed me to test my strategies on historical data, fine-tuning them for optimal performance. This evidence-based approach gave me the confidence to trade my strategies in the live market.

Efficiency: Time was always against me in my early trading days. Algo trading changed that, automating complex tasks and freeing up my time for research, strategy development, and, most importantly, living my life.

Trading While Working Full-Time: The Power of Automation

In the world of trading, time is a precious commodity. For those juggling a full-time job, the traditional approach to trading can feel like a never-ending battle with the clock. Discretionary trading demands constant attention, quick decisions, and a relentless pursuit of market opportunities. 

As I found out, and as you may already know, the life of a discretionary trader balancing a full-time job is hectic. Mornings are spent scanning the markets, analyzing trends, and making quick decisions before heading to work. Lunch breaks become trading breaks, and evenings are consumed by research, planning, and more trading. Weekends? They're for catching up on what you missed and preparing for the week ahead.

The hustle is real, and the pressure is intense. Every moment away from the market feels like a missed opportunity. When sneaking in time on the market, I would sometimes neglect my work. I did not like this. I felt horrible. On top of that, the trading emotional toll is heavy, and the work-life balance is skewed. It's a path that can lead to burnout, frustration, and financial uncertainty.

Now, contrast this with the world of algo trading. The hustle gives way to harmony, the pressure to precision, and the chaos to control. Here's how:

Building and Testing on Your Time: With algo trading, you use your off-times, such as weekends or after work, to build and test your trading systems. It's a thoughtful, deliberate process, free from the frantic pace of the live market.

Automated Execution: Once your strategies are ready, you set them loose. The algorithms place and manage trades according to your predefined rules. They work while you work, trading in the background and executing your plan without needing your constant attention. That means at work you can do your work and not have to constantly watch the markets! This is huge. 

Consistent and Emotion-Free: Unlike discretionary trading, algo trading doesn't waver, hesitate, or second-guess. It doesn't get tired or emotional. It's a machine executing your strategy with unerring consistency, day in and day out.

Work-Life Balance: Algo trading aligns with your life, not against it. It allows you to pursue your trading goals without sacrificing your career, family, or well-being. It's trading on your terms, a path to financial freedom that fits seamlessly with your full-time job.

A Sustainable Journey: By automating the trading process, you create a sustainable, long-term approach to trading. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon, a journey that you can navigate at your pace, with control, confidence, and clarity.

The beauty of algo trading is in its empowerment. It's not just about automating trades; it's about automating your life, aligning your passion for trading with your career, and creating a balanced, fulfilling, and financially rewarding life. It's the path I chose, and it's a path that's open to you, a gateway to a life unshackled from the constraints of time and the ticking clock

Getting Started as an Algo Trader

Becoming an algo trader is an exciting adventure filled with opportunities and challenges. It requires a unique blend of skills and the right equipment to successfully navigate the world of automated trading. Here's what you'll need.

1. Understanding of Trading Principles

A journey into algo trading begins with a solid understanding of trading principles. While many traders may have a decent grasp of these concepts, delving deeper into the nuances is essential. 

Trading Strategies: Understanding various trading strategies, from trend-following to mean-reversion, is crucial. These strategies form the backbone of your algorithms, guiding their decision-making process.

Risk Management: Knowing how to manage risk is paramount. This includes setting stop-loss and take-profit levels, managing leverage, and diversifying your portfolio. In algo trading, risk management rules must be coded into the algorithms, ensuring that they operate within predefined risk parameters.

Market Analysis: Analyzing market conditions, understanding indicators, and interpreting economic data are vital skills. These insights inform your trading algorithms, enabling them to respond to changing market conditions.

Translating Principles into Algorithms: The unique challenge in algo trading is translating these principles into code. Your understanding of trading must be precise and nuanced, allowing you to create algorithms that accurately reflect your trading philosophy and approach.

2. Proficiency in EasyLanguage

Learning EasyLanguage was a transformative step in my journey into algo trading. Here's why it should be your #1 priority: it's the language of computers! Knowing how to code allows you to convert the ideas into your head into computer code so a computer can understanding it. Trying to be an algo trading without knowing how to code is like moving to a foreign country and not speaking the native language! 

Designed for Trading: EasyLanguage is explicitly designed for trading, unlike general-purpose programming languages. Its syntax and functions are tailored to the needs of traders, making it more accessible and relevant.

Building and Testing Algorithms: EasyLanguage allows you to build and test trading algorithms within the TradeStation platform. You can code your strategies, backtest them on historical data, and optimize them for live trading.

Endless Possibilities: Mastery of EasyLanguage opens the doors to endless possibilities. From simple moving average crossovers to complex multi-asset strategies, you can bring your trading ideas to life, limited only by your imagination and understanding of the markets.

3. Technical Skills

Technical skills go beyond coding. They encompass a broader understanding of the tools, platforms, and technologies that power algo trading:

TradeStation's Tools and Features: Familiarity with TradeStation's suite of tools is essential. This includes understanding how to set up charts, indicators, and automated strategies and monitor and manage live trades.

Troubleshooting: Technical skills also include troubleshooting computer issues and debugging your code.

Strategy Building: Even though you can program a strategy, you still need to build it correctly. Building trading systems is a unique skill set. You must learn how to avoid curve fitting when creating your strategy. This is often done by properly testing your design. You must learn how to optimize correctly to avoid introducing curve fitting. There is a lot of nuance here, and it can take years of practice to nail down.

4. Continuous Learning Mindset

The world of algo trading is dynamic, complex, and ever-changing. A continuous learning mindset is not just an asset; it's a necessity:

Adapting and Growing: Markets evolve, technologies advance, and trading strategies adapt. Staying current with these changes requires ongoing education, research, and development. A willingness to learn, adapt, and grow is key to long-term success. This includes refining your strategies, exploring new markets, and embracing new tools and technologies. In short, you're constantly testing new ideas and you have to put in the work. So, do you like writing code, testing new ideas? 

Learning from Experience: Algo trading is a journey filled with successes and failures, insights and surprises. Embracing a continuous learning mindset means learning from every trade, every outcome, and every experience, turning them into opportunities for growth and improvement.

These four skills form the cornerstone of a successful algo trading career. They encompass the knowledge, expertise, mindset, and technical acumen needed to navigate the world of automated trading. Together, they provide a roadmap for aspiring algo traders, guiding them from the foundational principles of trading to the specialized skills of algorithm development and execution.

Essential Equipment for Algo Trading

Embarking on the path of algo trading requires not only the right skills but also the right equipment. Here's a closer look at the essential tools and resources you'll need to become a successful algo trader, particularly if you're using TradeStation and EasyLanguage:

A Reliable Computer

Two important conciderations:

Processing Power: Algo trading demands a computer with a robust processor to handle the backtesting of algorithms efficiently.

Sufficient RAM: Adequate memory ensures smooth multitasking, allowing you to run multiple strategies, analyze data, and monitor trades without slowdowns.

In short, you want to get the best computer you can afford. Now, when just starting out this is not as important. You're learning and you're not even sure if this endeavor will be right for you. So don't go crazy with buying a $3,000 computer. You can do a lot with a sub $1,000 dollar computer. You can always upgrade in the future.

TradeStation Platform or MultiCharts

TradeStation offers a wide array of tools for building, testing, and executing algorithms. It's a one-stop-shop for algo traders, with features tailored to the needs of automated trading. TradeStation's seamless integration with EasyLanguage allows you to code, backtest,  otimize and even trade your strategies live within the platform, providing a cohesive and efficient workflow.

Another viable option for aspiring algo traders is MultiCharts, a robust trading platform that offers many of the same benefits as TradeStation. MultiCharts utilizes PowerLanguage, a programming language that shares many similarities with EasyLanguage. Like EasyLanguage, PowerLanguage is designed with traders in mind, offering a user-friendly syntax that makes coding trading strategies accessible and efficient.

The compatibility between PowerLanguage and EasyLanguage means that transitioning between the two platforms is relatively seamless. Whether you're backtesting strategies, optimizing algorithms, or executing trades, MultiCharts provides a comprehensive suite of tools that align with the needs of automated trading. It's an alternative that offers flexibility and power, catering to both novice and experienced algo traders.

Data Subscriptions

This will be a monthly reoccurring expense. Price data for the markets you want to trade. You'll need access to this data and you can buy it for a monthly fee. There are two types of data feeds you will need.

1. Historical Data: Access to historical market data is essential for backtesting your strategies, allowing you to simulate how they would have performed in the past. This is a must! TradeStation allows you to access this data easily when you have their platform. It's another great reason to use TradeStation.

2. Real-Time Data: Real-time data feeds provide the information your algorithms need to make live trading decisions, ensuring that they respond to current market conditions. Yep, this is a different feed you'll need to trade live. You won't need live data until you're trading live. When just starting our algo journey, you just need Historical Data. This will save you some money. You only need to move to real-time data when you're trading live. Once again, TradeStation make this very easy to acquire. 

Backup Systems

First, having an Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) ensures that your trading continues even during power outages, providing a temporary power source that can keep your computer and internet running. It can also help protect your equipment from power surges.

The other issue is backing up your work. Imagine the agony of losing months or even years of meticulous research, coding, and optimization due to a system failure or accidental deletion. The pain is not just emotional; it's financial, disrupting your trading operations and potentially costing you valuable opportunities.  

That's where TradeStation's backup feature becomes an indispensable ally. By regularly backing up your TradeStation files, you safeguard your hard-earned work, ensuring that your trading systems, custom indicators, and personalized settings are preserved and protected. 

Regularly save copies of your EasyLanguage files, workspace settings, and strategy configurations, either on an external drive or a secure cloud service. Consider scheduling automated backups and maintaining multiple versions to ensure that you always have access to your essential files. In the fast-paced world of trading, where every moment counts, the assurance of knowing that your work is secure is priceless.

It's not just a best practice; it's a fundamental aspect of responsible trading, a commitment to your craft, and a testament to the value you place on your trading journey.

Virtual Private Server (VPS): The Freedom of Remote Hosting

One of the best things I did to improve my algo trading experience was utilizing a Virtual Private Server (VPS). It's a game-changer in the world of algo trading. It's a solution that offers unparalleled freedom, flexibility, and reliability. Here's why a VPS is an essential tool for modern algo traders:

24/7 Operation: A VPS allows your trading platform to run continuously, even when your local computer is turned off. It ensures that your algorithms are always working, scanning the markets, and executing trades. Whether it's during power outages or system maintenance, your trading never stops.

Access Your Trading Anywhere: With a VPS, you can access your trading platform from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Whether you're traveling, at work, or simply away from your home computer, your trading operations are always within reach.

Quick Disaster Recovery: A VPS offers robust disaster recovery solutions. If something goes wrong, whether it's a hardware failure or a software glitch, recovery is quick and efficient, minimizing downtime and potential loss.

Enhanced Security: Hosting your trading platform on a VPS provides an additional layer of security. With professional hosting services, you benefit from advanced security protocols that protect your data and trading operations.

Rock Solid InternetA stable and robust internet connection ensures seamless communication with your trading computer. When trading from my home computer, my internet connection could have been better. It would occasionally drop or slow down. This can lead to a host of issues that every trader dreads:

  • Delayed execution
  • Slippage
  • Loss of control over live trades
  • Even disconnection from the market at critical moments

These disruptions not only erode profits but can undermine confidence and strategy effectiveness.

In a world where the market waits for no one, a rock-solid internet connection is your gateway to consistency, control, and confidence. It's the unseen yet vital infrastructure that empowers you to trade without boundaries, ensuring that you're always in sync with the market, no matter where you are. It's not just about speed; it's about stability, reliability, and the assurance that your trading journey continues uninterrupted.

As I said before, using a VPS was one of the best ways I improved my trading experience. But do you need to rent a VPS now? Probably not. You only need to use a VPS if you're trading live. When you're just learning, you don't need it. But, when the time comes to start trading live, it's a must.


For the aspiring trader balancing a full-time job, the traditional path can be a relentless race against time, fraught with emotional turmoil and unyielding demands. But there's a different path, one that aligns with the rhythm of your life, not against it.

Algo trading is more than a technological marvel; it's a paradigm shift, a transformation from chaos to control, from hustle to harmony. It's about trading on your terms, with precision, consistency, and balance. It's about building a sustainable journey towards financial freedom without sacrificing your career, your well-being, or your dreams.

Whether you're a seasoned trader seeking a new horizon or a beginner yearning for a way to trade while working full-time, algo trading is your gateway to a world unshackled from the constraints of time. It's not just a method; it's a mindset, a philosophy, a way of life. Embrace the power of automation, master the art of EasyLanguage, and embark on a journey that's uniquely yours. The market is calling, and the path is clear. The question is, are you ready to trade your way?

If the journey into the world of algo trading resonates with you, if the promise of precision, control, and balance speaks to your trading aspirations, then you're not alone. Many have walked this path, and many have sought guidance to navigate the complexities and nuances of algorithmic trading.

That's where the System Development Master Class comes into play. Designed with the aspiring algo trader in mind, this comprehensive course offers a step-by-step guide to mastering the art of EasyLanguage, building robust trading systems, and embarking on a successful trading journey.

Whether you're taking your first steps or seeking to elevate your trading to new heights, the System Development Master Class is your companion, your mentor, your roadmap to success. Ready to trade your way? Ready to embrace a new horizon? The path is open, and the opportunity awaits. Learn more and begin your journey today.

Visit the System Development Master Class

Jeff Swanson

About the author

Jeff has built and traded automated trading systems for the futures markets since 2008. He is the creator of the online courses System Development Master Class and Alpha Compass. Jeff is also the founder of EasyLanguage Mastery - a website and mission to empower the EasyLanguage trader with the proper knowledge and tools to become a profitable trader.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Learn To Code & Build Strategies
Using EasyLanguage.