International Trader Job Description
International trading involves both the export and import of goods and services. Trading houses may act as agents on behalf of buyers and sellers, which means that they do not take title to the goods, or as distributors, in which case they do take title. Either way, they provide an integrated package of logistical services, including transportation, documentation, shipping and insurance. Trading houses are popular with small companies and those new to World markets, but they also handle commodities trading for larger importers.
Import and export staff that work for trading houses are often called International Traders. The companies they work for generally handle both domestic and international trading, and international traders often start in the domestic market. Typical job titles are Trader or Desk Trader. All traders are expected to be capable of both buying and selling.
International traders tend to specialize by product, and there is a great deal of teamwork involved within the organization. For example, an international trader engaged in selling diary products to a World customer might be asked about buying US poultry. The trader would work with an associate who specializes in buying and selling poultry in the US market to find a source.
There are no specific educational requirements for International Traders. A business degree with a specialty in international business is an asset, but does not necessarily develop the specific abilities needed for trading. Young people often enter the industry in entry-level positions in the logistics and documentation end of the business, and then work their way up to traders. At one time high school graduation was acceptable but in today’s market a university degree or community college diploma is usually a requirement.
International Traders require a detailed knowledge of the products that they buy and sell. They need to know exactly what product characteristics clients are interested in, how those characteristics can be specified, and where to buy or sell the goods. Traders must also have a detailed knowledge of sources and customers for the products they handle. This requires excellent communications skills since they are expected to establish long-distance relationships with both buyers and sellers. Knowledge of the language and culture of the trading partners is also essential. The trader must be capable of adapting his or her style to each situation.
Other important skills include knowledge of the terms and conditions of international transactions, especially “Incoterms”, which designate buyer and seller responsibilities for the costs of transportation, insurance and customs clearance. Traders also need a good knowledge of transportation methods and payment/collection systems.
Traders operate in a hectic atmosphere and must be capable of working under pressure and focusing on business transactions in spite of many distractions. They must be team players capable of maintaining good interpersonal relationships with other employees and trading partners. Candidates for this position should enjoy working in a fast-paced environment.