How to Start a Career as an International Trader

Are you tired of your 9 – 5 job and are ready for a major career change? Are you looking for a new and exciting career that gives you more control of your income? Do you love to travel and meet new people? If you answered yes to the above questions then International Trading is the career for you.

International trading involves the importing and exporting of goods and/or services. As an international trader you can act as an agent for both the buyers and sellers and take no physical position of the goods. International traders have the option to either specialize in particular markets; like trading copper ore, or dabbling in different lucrative markets at the same time.

Educational Background

A business degree can be useful but not absolutely necessary, as there are no specific educational requirements to be an international trader.


A working knowledge of the products to be traded and the ability to discern a good product and a good market is extremely useful. Salesmanship can be the breaker or maker of a good deal. This is not a career for those afraid of sales. A steep learning curve will help you understand the ins and outs of the logistics associated with International Trading.

A good international trader should be able to work under pressure and under hectic conditions. The marketplace is global; office hours cross the time barrier and your workday could theoretically run on a 24 hour clock. This allows the international trader to talk and close deals with international clients in different time zones.

International trading involves extensive international travel. This means meeting buyers and suppliers from all over the world and adapting to the cultural differences. Learning to speak different languages may put you ahead in the business.


International trading can be a very lucrative career with your salary totally dependent on your level of commitment, your time and input into closing deals. International trading revenues with little capital investment can reach millions in sales annually.

Getting Started

There is a wealth of information available online on starting a career in the international trading business. Do your due diligence in scouring all the available information. Purchase a book or two on the subject and read it careful to understand what you are getting into.

Start by writing a powerful business plan to guide you through your business venture. There are many consultants out there to aid you through this process. You could also purchase software to walk you through the business planning phase. At this stage you can decide how to structure you business: who will be handling the shipping; warehousing and logistics of the trades.

Choose a team of International Consultants: Choose accountants, lawyers, bankers and international freight forwarders with strong expertise in the handling international business. This team’s advice will be invaluable as you start your venture.

Choose a product or niche and a country to import from: With the world as your marketplace it is not difficult to find goods that can be imported into the US to fill the various needs of the population. Decide which country you will import from and learn the laws governing the exportation of your goods from that foreign country.

Find a Market: It is important to know your market.

Find a supplier: Once you’ve decided on a product find an affordable and reliable supplier. Ensure that the goods are priced low enough to justify the financial aspect of importing them; this is where your salesmanship and negotiation skills come into play.

Find a Buyer: Write a powerful Marketing Plan. Will you sell to retailers, directly to consumers or distributors? Some retailers require samples; make sure you obtain some. What kind of advertising strategy will you use? Once you have a buyer, your attorney help with the contractual agreements between you and the buyers and the sellers.

The Transaction and Delivering the Product: Learn the different methods of handling the financial transactions; most commonly used is the Letter of Credit. Once the financial transaction is settled the next step; delivering the product is where your freight forwarder is invaluable.

This is by no means an exhaustive guide to a career in International Trading; it merely touches on the tip of the iceberg. There are many resources available to guide you through the start-up and inception process.

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