Many businesses export goods to countries outside the United States, and it's essential that these exports be tracked and properly documented. Working as a specialist in this field generally requires a bachelor's degree, but if you have several years of closely related experience, you may be able to obtain work without one.
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Export documentation specialists ensure that businesses file accurate documentation for all exported goods. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals are often classified in the category of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. Export documentation specialists must be familiar with various federal and international rules and regulations pertaining to exports and documentation. Recognizing international business customs and trade credit practices can be beneficial to people in this position. It also helps to know one or more foreign languages. Most employers prefer that specialists hold bachelor's degrees, but some will hire export documentation specialists who have no degrees, provided they possess at least 1-5 years of field experience.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree highly preferred|
|Other Requirements||Related experience in freight management or importing and exporting documentation preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks: -8%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks: $37,250*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Transportation intermediary companies, such as commercial banks and freight forwarders, often employ export documentation specialists. These workers process commercial invoices, perform billing operations and provide rate quotes. Export documentation specialists also confirm accurate pricing on documents and maintain precise records of a company's exports. They execute logistics duties and act as liaisons between clients.
Employers typically require that candidates for export documentation specialist positions hold a bachelor's degree, with a major in international studies, international business or a related topic. An international business program generally includes courses in micro- and macroeconomics, international law, strategic management and business ethics. Students might study abroad to gain experience with different cultures, which lends experience when working with international clients.
If job candidates prove knowledgeable in government regulations and have previous airfreight experience, they might be hired without a bachelor's degree. Employers often choose candidates with 1-5 years of previous experience in the field. At the very least, applicants need to have a high school diploma.
Specialists require extensive knowledge about the rules and regulations set by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional skills required by professionals in this career field can include strong organizational and communication skills, detail oriented, expert clerical skills, and the ability to use related computer interfaces and software programs.
Salary and Job Outlook
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, including export-documents clerks, made a median annual salary of $37,250 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. During the 2014-2024 decade, the BLS predicted that available job opportunities for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks would decrease by 8%.
A wide and deep knowledge of government regulations as they pertain to exports is required to thrive as an export documentation specialist. You should also possess strong clerical and computer skills. This is a narrow field with fewer opportunities than in the past, so a bachelor's degree is highly recommended, but relevant experience may be enough to land you a job.