Export-Import Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To prepare for this career take college preparatory classes, such as English, business, social studies, computer sxcience, geography, and mathematics. Developing a fluency in a foreign language, especially one that is widely used in international trade, such as Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, or German, is very important.

Postsecondary Training

A college degree is becoming more important in the export-import field. Specific degree programs depend on the type of job desired, but in general undergraduate degrees in business management, political science, or economics are helpful. Course work should include classes in international trade, marketing, business administration, communications, computer applications, and statistics. Many people who want management positions in the export-import field are now deciding to get a master's in business administration (MBA), with an emphasis in international trade.

Other Education or Training

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America offers Web-based courses, webinars, and other continuing education (CE) courses. Recent offerings included Introduction to the U.S. Customs Tariff, Managing Brokers & Forwarders, Math Used in Trade and Cargo, and Preparing and Processing Cargo Claims. The American Association of Exporters and Importers also provides CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America offers the certified customs specialist and certified export specialist designations. Contact the association for information on certification requirements.

Customs brokers must be licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The licensing process requires passing a written examination that covers export-import rules and regulations. Specifics on the licensing procedures are available from U.S. Customs & Border Protection. Ocean freight forwarders are licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission, and international air cargo agents are accredited by the International Air Transport Association. Exporters of military equipment, nuclear fissionable materials, and some other items must have a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Participating in an internship at an export-import firm during college will be useful for aspiring export-import specialists.

To be a successful export-import specialist, you should be able to analyze purchasing decisions and evaluate products being shipped. You should have good verbal and written communications skills and be able to work well with other people. The ability to speak one or more foreign languages will help you to communicate far more effectively with trading partners and other foreign representatives.