How to Become an Import Logistics Coordinator

Mar 10, 2020

Find out how to become an import logistics coordinator. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in logistics planning.

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Be an Import Logistics Coordinator

Import logistics coordinators are responsible for managing the customs documentation of imported goods. Coordinators are also in charge of communicating with import vendors, setting up shipment deliveries with clients, maintaining import records, and verifying that all import transactions comply with government regulations. Coordinators may also have to predict whether import vendors will experience surpluses or shortages of products.

Logisticians, including import logistics coordinators, work full-time during regular business hours. Those who work with international markets may need to take calls or make orders outside of business hours in order to accommodate differences in time around the world. Some travel to meet in person with clients may be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; associate's degree is sufficient for entry-level positions, bachelor's is helpful for possible career advancement
Degree Field Varies; engineering, business, supply chain management or related program
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Experience Minimum of 2-3 years of experience common
Key Skills Communication, problem-solving, critical-thinking and organizational skills; ability to use industry-specific technology, such as logistics and supply chain, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and transportation management system software
Salary (2018) $74,600 per year (median salary for logisticians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2018), November 2012 job postings, O*Net Online

Employment as an import logistics coordinator requires a combination of skills and education, and career advancement may be attainable through experience and voluntary certification.

Step 1: Build Customer Service Experience

Coordinators need customer service skills because they are expected to call customers with updates about product deliveries, handle customer complaints, and build relations with new customers. It's possible that individuals can gain customer service skills in any industry, although acquiring these skills through working in fields related to import trade or logistics may prove more useful.

Step 2: Earn a Postsecondary Degree

Import logistics coordinator applicants usually need at least an associate's degree. Related degree programs include logistics and transportation, international business, or supply chain management. Course topics may include accounting, logistics management, marketing, e-commerce, business law and business software applications. Several degree programs require students to complete internships or practicum field experiences with businesses that specialize in trade commerce.

Individuals can also find bachelor's degree programs in these fields. Course topics will also be similar, although the classes may be more advanced.

Complete an import trade certificate program. People looking for more focused training in the field of import trade may consider earning undergraduate certificates. Additionally, individuals who already hold degrees in general fields, such as business, can enhance their knowledge by earning import trade certificates in as little as a year or less. Courses in these certificate programs may discuss imports, exports, supply chain management, transportation management, and international trade law.

Step 3: Get Experience in Logistics

The field of logistics involves the organization and distribution of goods to clients or vendors. As a major aspect of supply chain management, professionals who work in logistics may be responsible for making sure that their companies have all the products and supplies needed to run effectively. To get experience in logistics, working in jobs like a customer service agent, cargo agent, purchasing agent, transport coordinator or freight broker can be beneficial.

Additional Steps

There are several steps you can take to improve your chances of success in this career:

  • Learn import laws and regulations. Some employers may only require applicants to know the laws about the U.S. trading with one other country, such as the U.S. trading with China. Other employers may prefer applicants who have a broader legal knowledge. Besides federal laws, each state may also have specific trade regulations that coordinators must understand.
  • Gain professional certification. Organizations like the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL) and the International Society of Logistics offer certification options for professionals in this field at all levels. Credentials, such as the Distinguished Logistics Professional (DLP) or Demonstrated Logistician (DL), may also require continuing education requirements to maintain certification.
  • Consider earning a master's degree. Master's degree programs, such as the Master of Business Administration in Logistics Management, can help coordinators with career advancement as well as learn more about the field.

Import logistics coordinators manage the acquisition of imported goods from ensuring customers' paperwork is in order to arranging for delivery of shipped goods. Import logistics coordinators typically have customer service experience and at least an associate's degree, although a bachelor's degree or greater and voluntary professional certification can improve one's chances of success.

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