Shipping agent, freight forwarder, import-export agent
Import-export clerks ship goods to and from the UK by road, rail, air and sea.
Salary range: £18,000 to £30,000
How to become an import-export clerk
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- specialist courses run by professional bodies
You could do a degree before applying to join an organisation’s management training scheme. Most subjects are accepted but you may have an advantage if you study:
- transport and distribution management
- logistics and supply chain management
- business and management
- foreign languages with business studies
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could do an international freight forwarding advanced apprenticeship.
There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You could start as an office assistant in a freight forwarding or logistics department and work your way up through training and promotion.
You’ll find it useful to have office experience and computer skills.
You’re likely to need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths. Some employers may prefer you to have A levels or higher qualifications.
You could take an introductory course, like the ones offered by The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and The Institute of Export and International Trade.
You’ll find it useful to speak a foreign language if the company operates internationally.
You can find out more about becoming an import-export clerk from The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
- knowledge of geography
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- customer service skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to work well with others
- administration skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- managing freight bookings using a computer system
- checking order, tax and customs documents are correct
- working closely with national and international suppliers and agents
- arranging freight deliveries and collections between ports, airports and warehouses
- handling invoices and payments
- keeping clients up to date with progress
- dealing with any problems or delays
You could work in a warehouse or in an office.
Career path and progression
You could become an import-export manager, a specialist in international trade law, or overseas account manager.