Steps to Become an International Trade Specialist

Research the steps required to become an international trade specialist. Read more to learn about the education requirements, available certifications, and job responsibilities. Schools offering International Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

International Trade Specialist Overview

The role of an international trade specialist is to advise companies, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations on the effects and potential improvements of trade laws, policies, and programs. They may use laws and analyze data to improve supply chain efficiency, advise on the effects of trade regulations, or enforce laws on behalf of regulatory agencies. Read on to learn more about the steps required to pursue a career in this field. Check out the table below for basic requirements for entering the field and related statistics.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Field of Study Political science, public administration, economics, finance, international trade, or international relations
Certification Preferred by some employers- commonly CITP (Certified International Trade Professional)
Skills Analytical skills, written and verbal communication, economic and financial analysis
Median Annual Income (2019) $59,294*

Source: *

What Should I Study to Become an International Trade Specialist?

International trade specialists must analyze the effect of trade agreements and trade policies on behalf of government agencies or private organizations. As such, employers generally seek candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in a related field that can provide candidates with a background in research, analysis, and basic economic principles. Related majors include business administration, political science, public administration, business or commercial law, economics, finance, international trade, and international relations.

Should I Pursue an Advanced Degree in This Field?

Advanced degrees are not required but could increase your specialized knowledge and marketability with future employers. Your advanced degree selection for career advancement in this field should be based on your desired area of specialization. To specialize on the effects of trade policies on private business operations, an advanced degree in international business or business administration may be more suitable. If you are more interested in the design or evaluation of trade laws, trade agreements or government regulations, you should consider advanced degrees in international trade, economics or public administration.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

Certifications are not required in this field, though an elite certification may be preferred by some employers. The leading professional certification for international trade positions is the Certified International Trade Professional (CITP), available through the Forum for International Trade Training. To begin the process of certification, you must have worked in a position related to international business for at least one year. Some education credits from bachelor's or advanced course credits could be taken into account for obtaining the certification.

What Skills Should I Master to Pursue a Career in This Field?

International trade specialists are tasked with conducting research and analytical reports for a wide variety of areas affected by international trade matters. They might be asked to monitor the enforcement effectiveness of certain regulatory bodies, the unintended consequences of specific trade laws, or design new trade policies. Beyond the written, verbal, and analytical skills required to perform these tasks, it is also important to have a solid grasp of economic influences, financial basics, and both the knowledge of and ability to research international trade laws as needed.

What Kind of Salary Should I Expect?

In 2019, PayScale calculated the median annual salary for international trade specialists at $59,294. Your salary range could vary greatly depending on the type of employer (private, government or nonprofit organization). Glassdoor's median annual salary estimate for international trade specialists in 2019 is similar to PayScale's, calculated at $59,746.

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