Studying Import-Export: Degrees at a Glance
Import-export professionals facilitate international trade operations and procedures. In an associate degree program focused on import-export or a bachelor's degree program in international business, you could learn to serve global customers and meet compliance and security requirements.
Various targeted certificate and shorter-term licensing exam preparation programs are also available. You can prepare for a career with international firms, exporters and importers, market research organizations, consulting firms, financial institutions, economic forecasting companies and government agencies, to name a few options.
In the 2010-2020 period, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment for logisticians would increase by 26%. Logistics careers may be of interest to graduates with an undergraduate degree and an interest in analyzing and presenting performance data, as well as tracking the performance of people, goods and supplies along the international supply chain.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals who want an entry-level position in the import-export field||Individuals interested in professional or management careers related to import-export|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary)|| - Import-export clerk ($38,000 - with 0-2 years of experience)*|
- Logistics analyst ($49,000 - with 0-2 years of experience)*
- Import-export administrator ($50,000 - with 2-4 years of experience)*
- Import-export entrepreneur - (salary unavailable)
| - Import-export supervisor - ($63,000 with 2-4 years of experience)*|
- International trade specialist - ($80,000 - with 2-4 years of experience)*
- Import-export manager ($87,000 - with seven years of experience)*
- International sales manager ($95,000 - with seven years of experience)*
- Traffic manager ($72,000 - with seven years of experience)*
|Time to Completion||Approximately two years, full-time|| 4-5 years, full-time |
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Typically 60-70 credits, including major area subjects and liberal arts core requirements|
| - Approximately 120 credits |
- Internship or capstone project
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or GED||High school diploma, GED or associate degree|
|Online Availability||Online degrees and coursework are available||Some fully online degree programs and online coursework are available; hybrid programs may be more common|
Source: *Salary.com (figures for September 2012).
Associate Degree Programs Covering Import-Export
You could learn import-export fundamentals in an associate degree program. This may be offered as a track or concentration option within an international business curriculum at 2- or 4-year colleges. You might study customs regulations, material management and warehouse and distribution management. You could become familiar with procedures, terminology, documentation and regulations. Trade operations and procedures involving ocean carriers, freight forwarders and terminal operators, warehouses and trucking companies and the role of financial institutions may be addressed. You could gain skills to start your own import-export business.
Pros and Cons
- This degree may help you get an entry-level job in any organization that works in international business or trade
- Credits may be transferable to an international business bachelor's program
- You could pursue an import-export position after only two years
- Programs may be available with flexible full or part-time schedules
- You may be competing with bachelor's degree holders for some entry-level positions
- A bachelor's degree may be required for a management position
- Import-export onsite study and positions may be less available in areas with fewer organizations involved in international trade or business
Courses and Requirements
Programs could include core courses in English, humanities and math. Trade finance, import-export strategies, the international legal environment and world cultures might be typical subject areas. You could learn to analyze secondary data relevant to foreign business environments. You might need to complete an internship to earn your degree.
Common courses covered in these programs include:
- Principles of imports and exports
- Global logistics management
- International e-commerce systems
- International business and trade
- Intercultural management
- International banking and trade finance
- Import customs regulations
Online Class Options
Fully online degree programs may be harder to find than certificate or continuing education programs, but they are available, as are programs offering hybrid formats. Online class options are available for credit through traditional schools and not-for-credit through professional associations. You might not be able to take all of the courses that interest you online. You will need to meet the same standards in an online course as in an on-campus course.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
Licensing or certifications may be advantageous or required for some positions. You can use your studies to prepare for the Certified Global Business Professional credential exam or the Custom Broker License Examination. Schools could offer curricula or supplemental courses that prepare you for the U.S. Customs Broker examination or other professional designations. Good performance in an internship or part-time job might also help you gain additional experience for future positions. You could also stay current with industry trends by attending professional events, such as those offered by the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI).
Bachelor's Degree Program Covering Import-Export
Bachelor's programs in business administration emphasizing international business could address import-export topics. You might cover these through related electives, internships and capstone projects. Overall curricula may cover core business disciplines like accounting, marketing and finance, as well as broad-based international business principles and technology. You might learn about conditions that help market economies to function well, market systems pricing and the role of governments in trade and finance. You could learn statistical methods for economic problem analysis.
Pros and Cons
- This degree program could offer opportunities to learn about foreign cultures, economic systems and international organizations
- You may develop a good basis for a Master of Business Administration or other graduate program
- Selection of import-export electives could signal interest in the field to prospective employers
- You might have travel and study abroad options during this program
- International studies requirements exceeding those of most undergraduate business programs may result in less time for advanced business discipline study and import-export courses
- Some students may be challenged by second language requirements
- Students who are interested in the import-export business may be less interested in required humanities subjects addressing foreign cultures
Courses and Requirements
After meeting university general requirements, you may develop a comprehensive understanding of business principles plus expertise in a functional area. You could study a second language and related foreign cultures and practices. Programs may include internships and opportunities to work on international projects, including a capstone practicum.
You might find courses like these in a bachelor's program covering import-export:
- International business principles
- International trade operations
- International markets, cultures and institutions
- International transportation and logistics
- Law and international business
- International supply chain management
- International competitiveness
Degrees, certificate programs and courses that could address targeted topics of interest are available on-campus and online. Courses, workshops and seminars leading to continuing education credits may also be available through professional associations like AAEI. You'll complete courses virtually using various browsers and software. Distance learning options may be possible with independent study courses through bachelor's degree programs.
Standing Out with This Degree
Since organizations engaged in international business must have a relationship with at least one licensed customs broker, obtaining a custom broker's license during your degree program could make you more competitive. Licensing requirements include passing an exam and submitting an application. You might also take advantage of foreign study opportunities or internships.
Other ways to stand out with this degree include taking extra economics or statistics coursework, which may give you an edge with prospective employers. Your school may host a related center or institute that offers seminars, workshops and research or undergraduate consulting opportunities. You could also seek leadership roles in related campus organizations.