Really depends on your trading style and risk tolerance. Some people could punt the whole lot on one trade, while others would hate to lost $50 per trade. If you're not sure, start small and build up. When you reach that point where you are sweating over a trade, you know you've hit your risk appetite.
There is no magic involved in getting into futures trading. Things to consider are how much money you are willing to risk and how much time are you willing to invest to learn this. You are trading against professionals so unless you are willing to commit to this you will likely lose money. Count on losing money initially.
Here is how I would suggest starting:
Trade in such a manner that you are not risking more than .5 - 1% of your trading account on any one trade. This allows you to learn without blowing up your account. If that risk is to much with futures then trade the SPY ETF or something similar to start with.
Find a good broker and mentor. I would suggest Stage5 brokerage and Futurestrading71. You can trade with a demo account while you are learning here.
Have realistic expectations. If you break even for the first year you are doing ok. It takes time.....
Spend a minimum of 6 month in a demonstration account where conditions as exactly the same as reality . So take time to choose a broker that u will keep when you will trade for real . Usually this require that u invest some money, 5k in the broker to have acces to paper trading . Establish a trading plan , backtest and experiment it and don't focus on too many markets : Focus on the most liquid markets like S&P 500 where insider trading has less impact.
Try to find a mentor of which you can learn .
This is basically what I'd like to do. How would someone go about finding a mentor? Also, say I choose ninjatrader, after depositing 5k to get access to everything how would I set up real time trading simulation? Is this something that ninjatrader would walk me through?