As I have said many times in the past, after the .com bubble in 1999-2000 I paper traded a few years as I mastered candlesticks while working a full time job. I think all new traders should start by paper trading as Wall Street does not give refunds. If you are going to have a real money account balance of $25,000 it is in your best interest to paper trade within those same parameters.
.Once you have a simulated account, you will need to develop your strategy. Maybe you like overbought or oversold patterns. Find one or two strategies you really like and master them while you paper trade.
I can not stress this enough, paper trade with the amounts of money that you will be trading in real life. It is easy to buy a position worth $ 150,000 in a paper trading money and watch it lose a quarter or more of its value in a matter of minutes. Could you tolerate this loss in a real account? No. Emotions are attached when real money is in play and you will make a decisions quickly., Always paper trade with the size and position that you will be using in the real account. Otherwise, there is no point in paper trading.
After you feel confident you have mastered the strategy you chose then you may decide it is time to move to real money trading. Do not be in a hurry to make the transition, a few months to master a couple strategies and get confidence in yourself is not a long to paper trade. When you think you are ready for real money trading you should stick to small size trades as there is another several month window for you to work on your self discipline and emotions.
I have talked to a lot of traders that blow up a trading account and believe it or not 80-90% go straight in trading real money. New traders often try to skip steps in the process, lose their money, and then give up their day trading career. These are the same people you see on social media telling you it is impossible to make money day trading.
If you want to day trade for a living I suggest you keep your full time job for two to three years while you hone your trading skills. If you are a successful trader after two to three years then you may be ready for that big leap. There is nothing worse than to see a new trader quit their job and say I am gonna day trade to pay my bills. It is downright scary. You do not have to paper trade from bell to bell, the first hour every day should get you a lot of exposure but if your job limits you just get in what time you can. When I paper traded it was in the evenings, I would find setups on daily charts and make my trades foe the next day. The next evening I would go over my trades and study what worked and what did not and try to find patterns that would help me prevent repeating what did not work.