Foreign exchange traders are the ultimate smart shoppers -- they literally buy and sell money. To excel in this field, you need to combine careful research with good timing and some luck. Foreign exchange traders spend up to 80 percent of their day on the telephone and the computer and 20 percent acting quickly to buy and sell before their window of opportunity closes. If you're successful, you can ride out the lows and make a profit at the end of the day.
When you're first starting in this business, your moneymaking potential is staggering because you're still learning the ropes, and your earnings are likely to be among the bottom 10 percent in the field. As of 2013, annual average salaries for foreign exchange traders in 10 randomly selected cities, according to the website Salary Expert, were Pierre, S.D., $61,243; Miami, $71,839; Houston, $77,562; Augusta, Maine, $84,591; Philadelphia, $84,818; Chicago, $89,305; Walla Walla, Wash., $91,289; Baltimore, $92,114; Washington, D.C., $105,649; and New York, $108,786.
If you’re able to hone your craft, you'll likely earn closer to the national average after a few years in the field. The national average for foreign exchange traders, according to the salary survey website Salary Expert, was $106,424 as of 2013. There are geographic differences among 10 randomly selected cities including Pierre, S.D., $76,953; Miami, $90,267; Houston, $97,458; Augusta, Maine, $106,290; Philadelphia, $106,575; Chicago, $112,214; Walla Walla, Wash., $114,707; Baltimore, $115,743; Washington, D.C., $132,750; and New York, $136,691.
Although everyone aspires to be at the top in terms of earnings, few reach the 90th percentile. For those at this level, average salaries in 10 randomly selected cities, as reported by Salary Expert, were Pierre, S.D., $98,815; Miami, $115,913; Houston, $125,147; Augusta, Maine, $136,488; Philadelphia, $136,854; Chicago, $144,096; Walla Walla, Wash., $147,297; Baltimore, $148,627; Washington, D.C., $170,466; and New York, $175,527. The average income in this group was $139,923, which is $53,203 higher than the average entry-level salary in this group of cities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies foreign exchange traders in its securities, commodities and financial services group. The BLS projects job demand to rise by 15 percent for this group, which is about equal to all other occupations. Job growth is contingent on the robustness of the economy, as well as banking and finance legislation. Because foreign exchange traders can make a six-figure salary, competition is strong for new positions.
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.