How to become an 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 for an 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 an 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.

Additional information

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

Duties & Tasks of an Importer and Exporter

Importers and exporters:

  • 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.


  • Liaises with local and overseas suppliers and distributors about orders and products.
  • Monitors business performance and prepares the estimates, financial statements and reports of operations.
  • Researches regulatory and statutory requirements affecting the importing, exporting, wholesaling and distribution of goods.
  • Determines the mix of products and services to be provided and negotiates conditions of trade.
  • Develops and implements business plans, as well as the policies and procedures for marketing, operating, human resource, pricing and credit.
  • Identifies local and overseas business opportunities.

Employment Opportunities for an 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.

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.

  • Average age
    Average age
    46 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    34% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    46 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    73% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    3,800 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.7%
    NSW: 36.8%
    NT: 0.1%
    QLD: 15.7%
    SA: 5.4%
    TAS: 0.6%
    VIC: 33.5%
    WA: 7.0%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.2%
    20-24: 2.4%
    25-34: 19.4%
    35-44: 24.5%
    45-54: 25.7%
    55-59: 9.6%
    60-64: 8.4%
    65 and Over: 9.9%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 12.2%
    Bachelor degree: 28.1%
    Certificate III/IV: 9.7%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 13.6%
    Year 10 and below: 9.1%
    Year 11: 3.6%
    Year 12: 23.7%
Is the information on this page correct? Request update

Become a member

Already a member? LoginForgot password?

Join the conversation