Everything you need to know about import-export: training, career opportunities and salaries in this rapidly expanding sector

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Located at the heart of international trade, import-export is a rewarding sector with many employment opportunities.

What is import-export?

The import-export is a sector regrouping several activities, granting many positions. What is it about?

Definition of import-export

Import-export is part of the field of international trade. It is therefore a commercial activity involving several countries through trade.
While international trade is primarily about the buying and selling of goods, it also includes all types of goods.
Trade in services, capital and resources are thus included in the notion of import-export.

Why is import-export so important to a country’s economy?

Many economies are based on international relations.
While some countries need to source raw materials, others are looking for finished products. In other words,
Importing a good means making it available on the market.

On the other hand, importing remains the best option when the cost of local manufacturing seems high.
The objective is to conform to the purchasing power of the population without making concessions on quality.
On the other hand, exporting generally allows companies to maximize their profit margin.

What post-baccalaureate studies can be considered to work in the import-export sector in France and abroad?

After the baccalaureate, it is possible to train in 2, 3 or 5 years to become professional in import-export.

The BTS, the professional license or the bachelor, short options to train in import-export

The BTS in international trade is a 2-year training course after obtaining the baccalaureate. It aims at mastering the basic concepts of trade. For their part, the BUT commerce international and the licence are training courses spread over 3 years. Depending on the institution you choose, you can opt for a classic license or a professional license, which is often possible to follow in alternating years. A bachelor’s degree is based on the notions of financial analysis, international finance and business techniques.

The master’s degree, a key to an international career in import-export

The Master’s degree is a 5-year course after the baccalaureate, at the end of which you can aspire to positions of high responsibility. This type of training is accompanied by an internship in a company in order to familiarize yourself with the professional environment. Among the essential notions to master, it is possible to mention :

  • distribution, transport and logistics ;
  • international economy ;
  • finance and management control ;
  • international markets.

Can students do an internship or a work-study in import-export during their school career?

Corporate immersion is an opportunity to gain experience in the field.
Most institutions encourage you to apply for an internship or work-study program.

Internships and apprenticeships, ways to professionalize during your studies

Internships in the import-export sector allow you to familiarize yourself with the activities of companies.
It is advisable to take an internship throughout your school career. During the first years of training,
It is common to apply for a short internship, lasting 1 to 4 months. To complete your studies, you will also be required to complete a long internship,
for a period of 6 months.

An international internship, a recommended experience for import-export students

In addition to immersing yourself in a major company, an international internship completes your training.
In addition to the knowledge in the field of import-export, it allows you to develop personally.
It is an opportunity to become independent and gain confidence, and it is easier to master foreign languages.

Find out here how to write a CV and a cover letter to apply internationally.

Is it necessary to attend a business school to train for the import-export business?

The import-export business is mainly based on commercial exchanges,
Business schools remain the best way to train in the field.

ESCE, the reference school for training in import-export and international trade

ESCE is a school that offers many different courses to train you in international business. Indeed, it has different courses, from Bachelor to Master level. The school also gives you the opportunity to complete your course with international internships thanks to the relationships it has established.

What import-export programs does ESCE offer its students?

ESCE offers three main programs to train in import-export:

  • the Grande École Program, which lasts five years and can be integrated from the 1st to the 5th year. It leads to a master‘s degree.
  • The International Bachelor’s degree, which lasts three years and leads to a diploma at the bac +3 level.
  • The MSc, accessible after a baccalaureate +3 or a baccalaureate +4.

For each of the programs, specializations in import-export can be chosen throughout the curriculum.
In particular, you can opt for the Export Management specialization of the Grande Ecole Program,
for the International Business specialization of the Bachelor International or for the International Business Development specialization of the MSc.

What are the professional opportunities for training in international trade and import-export?

International trade training in import-export allows you to open up to different positions offering an attractive salary.

Import-export, a diversified sector

The level of responsibility generally depends on your level of education.
In any case, the import-export sector allows you to occupy positions such as :

  • sales manager ;
  • buyer;
  • broker ;
  • business manager;
  • logistician ;
  • Marketing Manager;
  • international business manager ;
  • responsible for the foreign subsidiaries ;
  • Export manager ;
  • Import/Export Manager ;
  • director of international development ;
  • Director of Operations for Import.

What are the salaries of the import-export professions?

By occupying your first position in the field of import-export, it is possible to claim a salary around 2000 €.
As you gain experience, the salary can reach 4000 or even 5000 €.
This type of remuneration is generally granted to an import-export manager position.

Learn more about salaries in international trade

How many foreign languages do you need to master to succeed in the import-export business?

In addition to French, English is currently the language to master in order to work in the import-export business.
Depending on your professional ambitions, it may be useful or even essential to learn other business languages, such as Spanish, Mandarin or Arabic.
The mastery of several languages remains a considerable asset for those who wish to flourish in international trade and conduct negotiations with prestigious companies and actors.

Updated 17 April 2023