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Working as an Importer or Exporter [NOC 6411 & 6221]

Job Description

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)

Industry Overview

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

forecasted average employment growth rate; job openings; composition of job openings for 2019-2029

Chart from WorkBC

Technical Sales Specialists – Wholesale Trade (NOC 6221)
Including import and export sales specialists

forecasted average employment growth rate; job openings; composition of job openings for 2019-2029

You can learn more about working in the import/export industry in BC from:

Types of Employers

Import/export professionals work for many types of businesses including:

  • Wholesalers
  • Manufacturers
  • 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:

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for Technical Sales Specialists within BC regions:low, median and high hourly wages in BC regions

Working Hours

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

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources.

Local Newspapers

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.

Job Freeway

  • 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
  • Exporter/importer

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.

  • 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

Industry Associations

Associations for import and export professionals in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees may be required for membership.

Industry Journals

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