- Working as an Importer or Exporter [NOC 6411 & 6221]
- Skills, Education and Experience
- Finding Jobs
- Applying for a Job
- Getting Help from Industry Sources
Working as an Importer or Exporter [NOC 6411 & 6221]
Importers buy goods from other countries and bring them into Canada. Exporters sell Canadian goods to customers in other countries.
As an importer and exporter you perform the following duties:
- Arrange for the shipment of products into and out of the country
- Research Canadian and foreign suppliers, markets, and trends
- Ensure distribution of goods to retailers and other clients
- Estimate or quote prices and delivery dates
- Complete bookkeeping and related clerical duties
- Understand and obey international trade laws and ensure that payments follow the financial rules of Canada and the other country
Both exporters and importers arrange to ship goods. For exporters, this means making sure that it all gets to the plane or ship on time. They also try to be sure that goods arrive in good condition. They make sure that legal matters are in order. The shipment must clear customs at the other end.
Importers may hire freight forwarders to take care of this in the shipping country. They may also hire customs brokers in Canada. People in these careers ensure goods clear customs without problems. The importer markets, sells, and distributes goods to retailers. Importers have to know the Canadian consumer market.
Source: Career Cruising (Profile for Importer/Exporter)
International trade is an important part of British Columbia’s economy. The province is ideally positioned to do business with many large global markets within the Asia-Pacific region and the United States. In 2020, British Columbia exported C$ 39.9B, (the 4th largest exporter in Canada) and imported C$ 53.3B (the 3rd largest importer in Canada)
In 2020 the top export destinations of British Columbia were United States (C$ 22.1B), China (C$ 5.74B), Japan (C$ 3.57B), South Korea (C$ 2.13B), and India (C$ 962M). In 2020 the top import origins of British Columbia were United States (C$ 19B) and China (C$ 13.5B)
The import/export sector includes a wide range of industries and careers. You can find career opportunities in marketing, sales, brokerage, and management.
Import/export professionals are employed by a variety of firms such as trading houses, importers and exporters, manufacturers, customs brokers, freight forwarders and transportation providers.
Knowledge of more than one language can help you find employment.
Sources: Career Cruising, OEC Observatory of Economic Complexity – British Columbia
Job Outlook in BC
Sales Representative – Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical) (NOC 6411)
Including import and export sales representatives
Chart from WorkBC
Technical Sales Specialists – Wholesale Trade (NOC 6221)
Including import and export sales specialists
You can learn more about working in the import/export industry in BC from:
- Career Cruising – ‘Profile for Importer/Exporter’
- WorkBC Career Profile for Sales and account representatives – wholesale trade (non-technical) (NOC 6411)
Types of Employers
Import/export professionals work for many types of businesses including:
- Transportation companies
- Import or export firms
You may also be self-employed.
In BC the median annual salary is:
- $54,142 for sales representatives – wholesale trade – NOC 6411
- $50,138 for technical sales specialists – wholesale trade – NOC 6221
Your salary depends on the type of product imported or exported, employer and experience. An importer who is bringing in novelty items to sell in their own small store may not make much. One who is working for a large chain retailer such as Wal-Mart is likely to make a high salary.
Source: Career Cruising
Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for Sales Representatives Wholesale Trade (non-technical) NOC 6441 within BC regions:
You generally work a standard Monday to Friday work week. However, when dealing with people in different time zones you may have to work evenings or in some cases very early in the morning in order to speak to these people during their business hours.
Skills, Education and Experience
- strong written and oral communication skills
- good at problem solving and creative thinking
- decision making ability
- good math skills
- entrepreneurial skills
- ability to work under pressure
- basic accounting and/or bookkeeping
- strong negotiation skills
- knowledge of more than one language
Sources: Career Cruising & WorkBC
Education and Experience
Completion of secondary school is required.
Some employers may also require:
- A university degree or college diploma in business administration or in a program related to the product or service
- Experience in sales or in an occupation related to the product being imported/exported
- Fluency in a foreign language and/or foreign country work or travel experience
This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.
There are no mandatory requirements for licensing or professional certification in order to work as an importer or exporter in BC.
Sources: Career Cruising, WorkBC
You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources.
You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.
- Available online through the Vancouver Public Library
NOTE: Access at VPL locations only
Online Job Postings
Professional Associations’ Career Resources
Identifying the Right Position
When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.
For import and expert professionals, look for these related job titles:
- Sales and marketing representative – import/export
- Export/import coordinator
- International trading representative
- International sales manager
- Export/import customer service rep
Creating a List of Potential Employers
You can use directories to produce lists of potential employers. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
- I | E – Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters : Membership Directory (currently under construction)
- Canadian Importers Database Provides company name and postal code only
- Reference Canada
Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
In the top search box enter “import” and click SEARCH.
Select the appropriate headings.
Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
Applying for a Job
In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides which are available in print at the Central Library or online:
Getting Help from Industry Sources
Associations for import and export professionals in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees may be required for membership.
- Trade and Invest British Columbia
BC’s official international trade and investment website.
Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession.
Examples at the Central Library:
- Inside Logistics (Canada’s Supply chain Magazine)
Also available at the Central Library