How to Become an International Trade Specialist

Career Path Guide

Although there are several paths you can take to become an international trade specialist, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


1. Excel at Math, Economics, Business, English and Second Language Studies in High School

2. Determine if this profession is suited to your personality and professional interests

3. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in International Business

4. Get work experience related to international business while you’re a student

5. Get a permanent job in an industry that interests you after graduation

6. Earn an MBA in International Business or a related field

7. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you gain experience


Read on below to learn more about what it takes to become an international trade specialist!



How Can I Prepare For This Career in High School?

You can begin to prepare for a future career as an international trade specialist while you're still in high school by excelling in coursework such as economics, mathematics, English, business and second language studies.


Excelling in these areas will help set a good foundation for your university studies by helping you qualify for top business degree programs, and by helping you gain crucial math and communication skills, and a basic understanding of business (which will be elaborated upon during your university years).



What Post-Secondary Education Will I Need?

To become an international trade specialist, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in economics, business, business administration, commerce, accounting, finance, marketing, international business or a similar field.


Some employers however, will prefer that you have a master’s degree in one of these areas, or a law degree.


Success Tip: Typically, the more education you have, the less experience you will need, and vice-versa. Experience can be hard to gain without an education though, as not many employers in international business will take you on for a role with any substantial amount of responsibility without it, so a bachelor’s degree is typically considered the minimum entry requirement in this field. 





What is an International Trade Specialist?

An international trade specialist is a global business expansion expert who provides information to business clients and partners as it relates to securing capital, real estate, dealing with foreign taxation, the general execution of international business strategies, or any other information that promotes business development and partnerships in foreign countries. 



What Do They Do?

Although their duties can vary quite a bit from job to job (like any profession), they are generally responsible for the following tasks:


• Working with foreign government trade offices in order to maximize business opportunities in other countries on behalf of a client or trade partners

• Familiarizing themselves with local commercial laws

• Providing statistics, forecasting and future projections concerning international trade and investments to clients

• Meeting with client or management to gain a thorough understanding of the objectives

• Monitoring market analysis and financial indicators for foreign markets

• Updating clients or management regarding current activities, plans, strategies, progress and roadblocks

• Submitting plans for business development initiatives, such as trade show presentations, to management before developing concept





Is This Career Right For Me?

If an occupation brings you personal and professional satisfaction, then chances are you’re in the right field.


While it may be pretty difficult to determine if this career will be a good fit for you without actually working in the field, you can get a good idea by looking at some of the traits and attributes you’ll need to make a go of it, which include:


• You have a keen interest in international trade and commerce

• You have a natural aptitude in math and business

• You have an interest in traveling internationally for work

• You’re comfortable preparing reports and presenting them to others

• You have an interest in advising others in areas in which you have expertise

• You’re willing to do a significant amount of research in regards to foreign trade programs, taxation, import and export laws, environmental regulations, or whatever your chosen area of specialization will be

• You’re interested in a career that draws heavily from a variety of disciplines, including math, computer science, economics, introductory business, foreign language, political science and finance



Will I Need Work Experience?

Employers typically prefer to hire candidates with a demonstrated ability to perform the functions of the job, which includes having knowledge of:


• The production of goods and services in international trade

• The technical and economic factors influencing international trade and competitiveness

• Commodity and trade data collection methods and analytical techniques

• Trade laws, agreements, and policies regulating international commerce



Who Creates Jobs for International Trade Specialists?

International trade specialists are typically employed by pubic sector organizations such as federal, regional and even municipal government departments.


They can however, also be employed by private and publicly traded companies in virtually any industry, ranging from banking to retail to manufacturing, and everything in between. 



Job Postings

Our job board below has a listing of "International Trade Specialist" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.




What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you display competence, a solid work ethic, and dedication to your work, then several career advancement options should become available to you. For example, with enough experience and skill you might:


• Receive increases in pay and responsibility 

• Move into a similar position with a higher-grossing department or company

• Move into various management positions

• Move from the public sector to the private sector, or vice-versa

• Become a self-employed consultant

• Start your own international business operation



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “International Trade Specialist”:


Business Development Officer

• Entrepreneur 

• Foreign Trade Manager

• International Business Analyst

• International Business Consultant

• International Sales Director

• International Trade Analyst



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring International Trade Specialists? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming an international trade specialist. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "International Business Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are millions of dollars worth of scholarship money that goes unused every year due to a lack of applicants in Canada and the United States!



Sources for This Career Guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


• Florida SBDC at UNF: Classification & Qualifications: General Schedule Qualification Standards: “Meet Katie Arroyo, International Trade Specialist.” (December 30, 2015). YouTube: Florida SBDC Network. Retrieved July 28’17, 2017.


• News: “How to Become an International Trade Specialist: Career Roadmap.” (January 6, 2017). Retrieved July 28, 2017.


Please Note: Some of the information used for this career guide was obtained from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online publication presence aren’t listed here as references. 



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming an international trade specialist. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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