Working Overseas in Import/Export Jobs

Import/export jobs are among the major job streams around the world, thanks to globalization. These jobs are also among the most important career assets for people in business and management in terms of industry experience.

The Work Environment

The import/export career track starts in a particular industry or professional service. Import/export jobs require a wide knowledge base, which is progressively developed as the career progresses.

Some import/export jobs are directly based on the actual trade functions:

Import/export jobs with merchant importer/exporters: These are traders, buying and selling goods around the world. This is the basic import/export job, involving the full spectrum of business.

These jobs include:

  • Sales
  • Account management
  • Statutory compliance
  • Data management
  • Logistics
  • Administration
  • Supply chain

These jobs are extremely important in business and management careers in import/export. They often form a major part of core corporate business.

Shipping: This is an important subset of all the fundamental import/export jobs. The very complex machinery of trade in all import/export jobs requires a full understanding of the freight and shipping processes. This is sometimes a tough process, handling and managing complex orders for clients and dealing with the shipping firms.

Shipping costs are a major factor in import/export and the shipping issues are really management issues. Profitability depends on cost efficiency, making shipping a compulsory business study in the import/export sector.

Business Services:

The secondary level of import/export jobs is the service area. These services are:

  • Accounting services: Import/export accountancy jobs involve business, tax, audit and related functions, often dealing with the laws of several nations.
  • Risk management: These jobs are in insurance, actuarial work, business analysis, and business management. (This part of an import/export job can include knowing what to do if your ship full of electronics from China sinks somewhere in the Pacific.)

Language and Cultural Skills

Doing business with someone in another country isn't necessarily easy or simple. Globalization soon produced the realization that mutual incomprehension was one of the default business situations. Social, cultural, and even basic business practices were often very different. Language and cultural skills are now very much part of the import/export job culture. Many people in import/export jobs are bilingual, and some are dual citizenship holders.

The Career Environment

To do well in the import/export job market, you really must know your industry very well. You need to understand the commercial and social issues of working with other nations. (Interestingly, the cultural skills are often one of the major factors in commercial success and management roles.)

You also need to be able to compete with other experts. As you rise in the sector, the competition gets tougher. This is very much a networking sector. You may find yourself with business contacts all over the world. Experience and skills in  import/export job are the creators of your professional network, and those relationships are priceless as career assets.

In the upper echelons of the import/export sector are often people who've risen through the ranks to start successful import/export businesses of their own. This is one of the few industries where you can still literally start in the mail room and wind up owning a company.