Careers in International Trade

Research what it takes to pursue a career in international trade. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary expectations. Schools offering International Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Are Available in International Trade?

International trade is expanding everyday, and several types of professionals are needed to make global trading work. From the expert in marketing to the attorney who knows international law and the pros in shipping who keep track of what's coming and going. Marketers plan, stage, and initiate campaigns to promote trade, products or services. International lawyers keep themselves abreast of international finance law and trade agreements between nations. Shipping specialists take care of the logistics pertaining to the movement of goods across borders and across oceans. It takes a team effort, because international trade is a huge business with huge risks but the payoff can be just as vast.

International trade produces jobs at all levels, be they in shipping, manufacturing or business management. The table below offers an overview of some specific career paths: marketing director, international trade lawyer and shipping specialist (logistician).

Marketing Director International Trade Lawyer Shipping Specialist
Degree Required Bachelor's degree; MBA recommended Law degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Business
International law
Industrial engineering
Key Responsibilities Research international markets; understand trade regulations; develop pricing and advertising strategies Negotiate contracts; monitor trade regulations; file legal documents Arrange transportation logistics; manage shipping and delivery schedules; maintain customer relationships
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9% (for all marketing managers)* 6% (for all lawyers)* 5% (for all logisticians)*
Median Salary (2018) $134,290 (for all marketing managers)* $120,910 (for all lawyers)* $74,600 (for all logisticians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Some Career Paths in International Trade?

The process of importing and exporting goods is very complex and involves a lot of different kinds of work. If you are interested in the field, you might find a career in manufacturing, selling goods overseas, trade services, trade assistance or regulation.

The manufacturing industry comprises working at companies that produce exports or buy imports. A large-scale manufacturer or agricultural producer might employ you as a business manager to strategize and develop relationships with companies abroad. You could also work as a marketing director for these companies, responsible for researching and properly targeting foreign markets.

Companies that offer trade services encompass a huge variety of positions. You might work at a shipping company and assist in transporting products back and forth between different nations. Other services exporters and importers need are in finance, law and insurance. With a legal background, you could help a company navigate international law and trade regulations.

If you are interested in working for the government, you can also find a career in either trade assistance or trade regulation. The U.S. government encourages some kinds of trade for economic reasons and discourages others for security reasons. A couple of the organizations that deal with trade assistance are the International Trade Association and the Foreign Agricultural Service; the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and Customs & Border Protection regulate trade.

What Kind of Skills Will I Need to Work in International Trade?

Because jobs in international trade encompass many different types of work, you will need different skills and educational backgrounds depending on what positions you are aiming for. Still, any job you get will require sensitivity towards different cultures and basic knowledge of international regulations.

What Education Will I Need?

If you'd like to work on the business side of the international trade field, it might be helpful to get an MBA, particularly from a school that offers a specialization in international affairs. Finding a job as a manager in an international firm will require the kinds of interpersonal, analytic and economic skills that business schools can teach. You could also work on developing market research skills because a large component of exporting and importing goods is having a strong knowledge of foreign markets.

If you are interested in working as an international attorney, you will need a law degree and thorough familiarity with international law and trade regulations. Meanwhile, to become a shipping specialist or logistics manager, you might only need practical experience.

What Is the Future of Jobs in International Trade?

In general, jobs in exporting and importing goods tend to have better pay than jobs not related to trade. As the world economy continues to globalize, there will continue to be a demand for managers and service providers to aid in business expansion. Due to increasing computerization, however, some jobs, such as those in shipping or logistics, might decline.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

International trade jobs in related fields require a bachelor's degree. Arbitrators and mediators are a great place to start. These professionals work with individuals and institutions to mediate and negotiate a workable agreement to a problem. Another field is market research analysis. Here you use your skills to examine such things as sales projections to determine the viability of a product or service. Cost estimators come in handy when negotiating with vendors. They study data, prices and needs to determine what the best deals are to help a business expand its services or product lines.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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