Considering a career in international trade and shipping? Here is what you need to know

If you are looking to get into a career in international trade and shipping, then you will be pleased to know that there are plenty of opportunities for you to explore. International trade is a tremendously huge sector and every nation in the world participates in it. Practically every country in the world imports goods from abroad and exports its own popular products to other countries.

This process, of transferring goods across boundaries, is extremely complicated and requires a number of individuals for everything to run as smoothly as it is supposed to. The parties and intermediaries involved in international trade are varied. The intermediaries take on careers such as importers, exporters and freight forwarders who all facilitate the business of international trade while others such as sea clerks oversee the active aspects of incoming and outgoing goods.

How exactly does international trade and shipping work?

International trade and shipping are primarily composed of two parts:

  • Importing: the acquisition of goods from abroad from other countries
  • Exporting: the sale and distribution of goods to other countries

Export and import transactions can be small or large scale in nature and can involve various modes of transportation such as air, road or rail. Countries import goods based on a number of reasons including availability. For instance, South Korea lacks an abundance of banana trees so it imports bananas from countries that do such as Kenya.  Additionally, it is sometimes cheaper to import goods from abroad instead of producing them locally.

 

What does it take to have a career in international trade and shipping?

Because international trade operations generally tend to be large scale, anyone that considers a career in international trade and shipping has to extremely well organized, focused and excellent at creating accurate export and import documents. Additionally, one also needs to possess excellent communication skills to be able to arrange and coordinate shipments and transactions correctly. It also really helps if you have the ability to speak a second language, particularly if you plan on engaging with a lot of foreign clients.

What types of roles can you expect to find in international trade and shipping?

Importing and exporting is not a business that should be pursued by the weak of heart- it is challenging, fast-paced and comes with a lot of demands, but when done properly, can be very rewarding financially. Career in this international trade and shipping can take a number of various routes such as:

Work for an export management company

Export management companies, as the name suggests, handle a local company’s exporting needs. These companies mainly seek out buyers, research the best routes, arrange shipments, oversee the distribution of goods, market the activities, and even sometimes handle the financial aspect of transactions.

Import/export agents

There are plenty of import/export agents that work on a commission of freelance basis. Import and export agents do not have a specific client base and instead buy good directly off suppliers and handle all the elements of international trade and shipping by themselves including storage, packing and the actual transport.

Shipping clerks

Shipping clerks are also sometimes known as import/export document coordinators. Shipping activities must be highly accurate for them to work and they require a highly trained administrative staff to oversee the administration and the reception of imported and exported goods, which is where shipping clerks come in. to be a great shipping clerk, you would need to understand custom regulati9ns and technologically advanced documentation systems.

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarders serve as the go-betweens between importers and exported and handle a wide array of tasks in the shipping process. A freight forwarder’s job might involve a lot of duties including negotiating contracts and handling expenses with various logistics companies, as well as liaising with all the individuals involved in the shipping supply chain to make sure everything goes according to plan. Freight forwarders need to have a great understanding of customs regulations, as well as a firm understanding of trade security and insurance.

IT engineers and technologists

The use of information and technology has increased over the past years in the marine industry, and so have the shipping jobs pertaining to IT engineers and technologists.

Last thoughts

On the large, a career in international trade and shipping requires patience and utmost resoluteness on the part of applicants. As such, before you sign up, think carefully about the ramifications of your decision.

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