How Much Can You Make Day Trading?

The potential you can make from day trading varies widely among individuals, largely due to differences in capital, strategy, discipline, risk management, and markets traded.

We’ll look at the question across a variety of different variables.


Key Takeaways – How Much Can You Make Day Trading?

  • Capital
    • Starting capital significantly impacts potential earnings, with more capital allowing for larger trades and greater flexibility.
  • Strategy & Skill
    • Effective, well-refined strategies and trading skills are key to identifying profitable opportunities and managing risk.
  • Experience Enhances Performance
    • Experienced traders, leveraging insights and lessons learned, generally achieve better outcomes through superior market interpretation, risk management, and strategic adjustments.
  • Realistic Returns
    • Realistic returns are in line with broad market performance.
    • There’s significant variance in the returns of tactical trading styles like day trading.


There are several key factors influencing earnings from day trading:


The amount of money a trader starts with will naturally greatly affect their potential earnings.

A larger capital base allows for larger positions, a bigger capital cushion for flexibility, and the potential for higher returns.

But it also exposes the trader to greater risks if they’re inexperienced.



The effectiveness of a trader’s strategy is very important.

Strategies that can consistently identify profitable opportunities in the market, while effectively managing risk, can lead to higher earnings.

This often involves extensive backtesting and continuous refinement.


Market Volatility

Higher market volatility can present more trading opportunities but also increases risk.

Day traders often depend on volatile markets because they need movement in order to find trades (depending on the strategy), though the potential for loss is also elevated.


Experience & Skill

Experienced traders who have honed their skills over time typically perform better.

Traders often have perspectives shaped largely by their trading experiences rather than academic learning.

For those who want to day trade, it’s a good idea to dive in in a risk-limited way, get knocked around, and use that experience to learn how to do it differently.



Trading involves costs, including brokerage fees, commissions, bid-ask spread, margin/shorting costs, and taxes.

A higher frequency of trading can lead to significant expenses that eat into profits.


Realistic Earnings Day Trading

Realistic earnings for day traders can vary, with returns comparable to those of broad market indices being the most plausible.

Nonetheless, due to the volatility of day trading and the varied skill levels of participants, there’s considerable variance in outcomes.

Consistently achieving returns that outperform the market is rare and demands a high degree of skill, experience, and meticulous risk management.

Essentially, while some traders may achieve significant profits, others may struggle to match market returns or even lose.

While most beginning traders often expect to make high returns (e.g., 10% per month), this isn’t realistic or typical.

To outperform, someone else has to lose

To achieve market-beating returns, someone has to take from the other.

The markets are full of sophisticated players, and it’s hard to compete against those with an analytical, informational, or technological edge.

It’s a lot like poker where one player’s gain is another’s loss.

Or a sports league, where wins and losses are a zero-sum game.

This is why most traders ultimately evolve to more passive, strategic styles like investing – or some trading-investing hybrid like swing trading or position trading.

These allow for more strategic allocations and portfolio-building rather than the purely tactical, zero-sum strategies of scalping and day trading.

Institutional day traders are typically algorithmic in their approach.



FAQs – How Much Can You Make Day Trading?

What factors determine how much you can make day trading?

The potential income from day trading depends on:

  • the amount of capital invested
  • the effectiveness of the trading strategy
  • market volatility
  • the trader’s experience and skill level, and
  • the costs associated with trading such as fees and commissions

Is it possible to predict exact earnings from day trading?

No, it’s not possible to predict exact earnings due to the inherent unknowns and fluctuations in the financial markets.

Traders’ incomes can vary widely day-to-day and month-to-month based on market conditions and individual performance.

What is a realistic return expectation from day trading?

Realistic return expectations can vary, but traders might aim for returns that are commensurate with what would be expected from broad indexation to the market.

But given the nature of day trading and the differences in skill of the participants, there’s a lot of variance around that.

Consistently outperforming market returns is uncommon and requires significant skill, experience, and risk management.

How does starting capital affect day trading income potential?

Starting capital is a big factor.

More capital allows for larger positions and potentially higher returns, but also increases the risk of significant losses.

Traders with larger capital have more flexibility in their trading strategies and can diversify their trades to manage risk better.

Can everyone achieve profitability through day trading?

Not everyone can achieve profitability through day trading.

A significant number of day traders incur losses, especially beginners who might lack the necessary experience, strategy effectiveness, and risk management discipline.

Success in day trading requires considerable skill, knowledge, and emotional control.

How do trading costs impact day trading profits?

Trading costs, including brokerage fees, commissions, and possibly taxes on trading profits, can impact net earnings from day trading.

Higher-frequency trading, which is common in day trading, can lead to substantial costs that reduce overall profitability.

How does experience impact day trading success?

Experience is important in day trading success.

Experienced traders are generally better at interpreting market signals, managing risk, and adjusting their strategies – or simply having a wider variety of viable strategies.

They have also often learned from past mistakes (of which all experienced traders have plenty) which can improve their overall performance.



It’s important to approach day trading with caution, understanding the high risk involved.

Many traders experience significant losses, particularly in the early stages of their trading careers.

Adequate education, a well-tested strategy, and robust risk management practices are vital for those looking to pursue day trading.