You want to invest, but handing your hard-earned money over to someone else can be daunting at best. The internet has made it possible to buy and sell stocks yourself, with many reputable stockbrokers and discount stock brokerages offering online stock trading for beginners. Even though trading stocks online has made it easier to invest, the market is still an unpredictable place, and you should get some sort of training to be sure you make smart choices with your money. We’ve researched some of the best online stock trading courses to help you decide what kind of stock trading education is right for you.
Why Take an Online Course?
Taking an online course can save you the time and hassle of going to in-person events. With online resources, you can find genuine education accessible from wherever you are. Companies that offer courses include Scottrade and TD Ameritrade. Some, like OptionsHouse and optionsXpress, don’t offer full courses but have webinars on specific strategies. These companies offer online stock trading services, so they teach using their platform and for their customers. You can find courses that are more general and academic at these sites. (Please note that these sites are offered for consideration and have not been evaluated by Top Ten Reviews.)
Online Trading Academy: Offers courses at multiple levels and offers a Mastermind community.
Bulls on Wall Street: This academy offers months-long classes with live training via webinar, simulators and personal mentorship.
TechniTrader: This company offers courses for traders at different levels and for different needs.
Lynda.com: This is a general online learning site that offers recorded courses by teachers and experts in the field. It has courses on stock trading.
Of course, online stock trading courses are not without some drawbacks. As with any internet resource, you may lose the benefit of one-on-one interaction that would be available in an in-person course. The good news is that many online educators now offer live webinars where you can ask questions in chat or over the phone. Others provide upgrades that include individual mentoring services. Companies on our top ten list of online stock trading products who offer one-on-one mentors include E-Trade, OptionsXpress, Scottrade and TD Ameritrade. Other companies may have broker support so that you can call a broker for advice as needed. You need to be a client of these services to use this feature, however.
Free vs. Paid Courses
You’ve decided to get your stock trading education online, but you still have to determine whether you will choose to pay for it. A significant amount of educational material online is accessible without a fee. E-Trade, one of our top picks for stock trading for beginners, offers an extensive list of articles, videos and webinars as well as links to Morningstar courses in stocks, funds, bonds and other topics. These courses appear to be little more than an online textbook, but they are a reliable resource that you can refer to at any time and don’t require a password, so you can use the instructional materials no matter what company you actually do your trading with. Other places to find free online stock trading courses are Free Stock Market Education, Free online Trading Education and Cyber Trading University.
No online stock trading course can or should guarantee success; risk is in the nature of stock market trading. However, some online educators offer higher-level courses that claim to be more in-depth and more effective than free alternatives. For example, Grok Trade’s free online trading education includes free videos, technical analysis charts and a “101” course that requires only that you create an account on their site. You can then pay to move on to the upper-level course, which offers more resources and information on how to trade. The real benefit of paying for any course is the access to mentoring services so that you can receive instruction tailored to your needs.
Alternatives to Stock Trading Courses
Not everyone is interested in going back to school and taking a full course. If you prefer to learn hands-on or do your own education, here are some alternatives to online stock trading classes:
Read: For some people, nothing replaces reading for learning. In addition to books covering how to trade stocks online, you can subscribe to newsletters about the market (some paid, some free). Check out some of the websites by the beginner online stock trading companies because many have how-to articles and free research. Investopedia.com has a huge number of articles and videos about the market, including definitions and comparisons of brokers.
Watch: You can also keep track of the market through the television (CNBC is the best known) and online sites like Yahoo Finance or Google Finance.
Practice: If you learn by doing, stock trading simulators give you a wonderful opportunity to put your ideas into action and to practice trading without investing actual money. Simulators work in a virtual market – some mimicking real-time trading, some relying on historical data, and some in its own virtual market with other students acting as the traders. Check out ten of the stock market trading simulators we found. Some are free and some are attached to online trading brokers.
In general, people who invest in the stock market see better returns on their investment than if they put the money into a low-interest savings account. However, investing is always a risk. You can cut down that risk by getting educated in how the market works and what the best strategies are before you start putting your money into online stock trading.