How to become a Importer and Exporter

Importers and exporters sell and buy goods, such as raw materials, foodstuffs and manufactured goods, produced in Australia for export to overseas markets, or procure products made overseas for import to Australian markets.

Personal requirements of a Importer and Exporter

  • Good communication and negotiation skills
  • Good understanding of commercial activity
  • Research and administrative skills
  • Basic mathematical skills
  • Ability to speak one or more foreign languages is highly desirable (a considerable amount of overseas travel may be required)

Education & Training for a Importer and Exporter

You can work as an importer and exporter without formal qualifications, but employers usually require Year 10. You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in international trade, business, international business or leadership and management. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become an importer and exporter by completing a degree in international trade or international business. You could also consider a course in a related field such as business, commerce or management. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Importer and Exporter

Importers and exporters may perform the following tasks:

  • supervise and coordinate the marketing activities of overseas distributors/agents and assist with administrative, sales and marketing functions
  • investigate and assess overseas demand for goods produced in Australia or local demand for goods produced overseas
  • research and comply with legal requirements affecting import and export of goods to and from Australia
  • discuss orders and arrange for the production of goods with suppliers and distributors/agents
  • arrange the shipment of goods, ensuring that all customs barrier control procedures and other documentation requirements are satisfied
  • arrange payment for goods, ensuring these payments meet financial regulations in Australia and overseas
  • liaise with freight forwarders and customs brokers, who make freight and space bookings with airline or shipping companies and arrange for the movement of cargo from airports and wharves
  • monitor the performance of the business and prepare financial statements, and report on import/export operations
  • negotiate contracts and agreements with end buyers/sellers and with distributors and agents
  • ensure product intellectual property (brand name, design or patents) is registered and protected in the countries where they are sold.

Employment Opportunities for a Importer and Exporter

Importers and exporters are mainly self-employed in small businesses, although some may work for larger companies. Staff with specialist import/export knowledge and skills are also employed by banks and government departments. People with relevant formal qualifications may have greater opportunity for employment. New entrants usually commence in the distribution or sales area of the firm. Training varies according to the size of the firm and the products traded. Most people need five years of experience in less complex areas such as distribution or sales in order to develop basic knowledge and skills.


Import/Export (Administration) Manager

An import/export (administration) manager is usually based in the company's head office. Their main role is to supervise the receipt, recording and progress of import/export orders through the company in an efficient manner. This involves liaising with company departments, customers and external organisations.

Import/Export (Distribution) Manager

An import/export (distribution) manager coordinates the movement of goods in and out of the country, ensures compliance with customs barrier control matters, and negotiates freight rates and delivery schedules.

Import/Export (Sales/Marketing) Manager

An import/export (sales/marketing) manager travels overseas to obtain orders or source supplies from overseas customers, attends trade shows and exhibitions, and demonstrates products or acquires product knowledge.

Additional Information
With relevant work experience, graduates may be eligible for membership of the Export Council of Australia.
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