The Online Trading Academy has around 60 instructors worldwide. In order to qualify to become an instructor, says Harkey, an individual must be able to document at least two years of profitable trading experience. Some of the teachers, he says, come from trading floors at places like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange while others are actually former students.
No matter the background of individual instructors, the core philosophy each imparts is the same -- that a buy and hold investing mentality is mistaken and that there are opportunities for profits if one can identify the factors that cause markets to rise and fall. Although many students, like Peldo, are interested in day trading, Harkey contends that the skills learned in classes are applicable for investing over any time horizon and any asset class.
On a tangible level, students learn how to use the TradeStation Platform, which allows direct access to markets -- as opposed to trading via an online brokerage service. But those who attend also learn how to identify "market turning points," which Harkey says provide opportunities for profits. "At the simplest level, if more people are buying than selling, then prices go up. If more people are selling than buying then prices go down," Harkey says. "Identifying the points at which there's an imbalance of buyers and sellers and the price or market direction is likely to change is the point at which there is a buying or selling opportunity."
The initial Professional Trader Course involves a weekend of lectures, where teachers attempt to show students how to identify those turning points through studying stock charts and other tools while also imparting a so-called rules-based methodology for guiding their trading [source: Koomey]. For the remainder of the course, students do actual trading using Online Trading Academy accounts, giving them the chance to implement what they have learned while still under the guidance of an instructor.