The Average Salary for Importing & Exporting

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Import and export worker salaries range depending on role and experience level.
Import and export worker salaries range depending on role and experience level. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

With millions of shipments entering and exiting the United States daily, merchants must ensure that their shipments meet foreign shipping standards and specifications. Import and export companies act as intermediaries between domestic and international shippers, and help process the U.S. Customs paperwork necessary to get products to and from their destinations. Some of the professions that fall under the import and export sector include agents, brokers, managers and clerks. Salaries for these roles range considerably due to the credentials and experience level required for each position.

Entry-Level Salaries

The average salary for import/export clerks in the United States was $38,426 per year, according to a June 2011 Salary.com report. Import/export clerks are entry-level roles that require zero to two years of experience in the industry. Clerks in importing and exporting companies primarily handle administrative duties, and support import and export managers. These professionals also receive, process and file paperwork required for the transport of goods to and from the U.S. This includes processing shipment contracts, ensuring the accuracy of shipping invoices, and tallying duties and tariffs for shipped goods.

Managerial Salaries

Experienced professionals with five to seven years of experience in the field can ascend to an import/export manager role. Salary.com states that the average salary for import/export managers was $87,141 per year in June 2011. Managers typically oversee import/export transactions for countries and companies. These professionals also help increase foreign sales, make sure shipping documents comply with U.S. government and trading laws, and review and arrange credit accounts for customers. Some managers research and monitor the economic health of countries where their companies conduct business. Other duties include helping customers negotiate contractual terms and acting as a liaison with customs personnel.

Geography

Import/export brokers and agents perform similar duties as import/export managers, except they work independent of shipping companies. Average salaries for these professionals varied across different metropolitan areas according to a June 2011 SalaryExpert report. For example, import/export agents working in New York City averaged a salary of $78,892 per year. Agents in Chicago reported an average salary of $63,935 per year. In Atlanta, import/export agents averaged $69,177 per year. Los Angeles professionals reported an average annual wage of $64,558 per the year. Import/export agents working in Miami averaged the highest salaries at $80,888 per year. Workers in Phoenix averaged the lowest and made $48,827 per year.

Potential

As of June 2011, StateUniversity.com predicted that workers in the importing and exporting business should expect positive job prospects due to increased trading with countries such as India and China. Though employment for importer and exporter jobs fluctuates with the global economy, workers will be needed to replace professionals who exit the field or transition to other occupations. Moreover, import/export clerks and agents with work experience and further education can increase their salary potential by moving into executive positions or starting their own businesses.

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