Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Importers and Exporters

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for exporters and importers are average. Employment numbers have decreased a little in recent years, but there will still be demand for skilled workers in the future. It can be difficult for new graduates to get into this occupation. Income is high.

How to become an importer or exporter

What they do

Importers and exporters plan and organise the import or export of products. This can include the process of purchasing and selling the products in different countries.


There are no formal entry requirements to work as an importer or exporter, but most have a relevant degree. Popular degrees include business and management, sales and marketing, and shipping and logistics.

There are two specialist providers of export and import qualifications in New Zealand. They are the New Zealand School of Export, and the Export Academy of New Zealand. The School of Export offers a Diploma of International Trade. This is the only qualification in New Zealand that is accredited by the International Association of Trade Training Organisations. The Export Academy offers a certificate and a diploma in Export Enterprise. Neither of these organisations are accredited by the NZQA.

Cost of study

There are many different qualifications from different qualification providers that can be useful or relevant for importers and exporters. Costs vary, so please refer to the desired university or institution for more information on costs.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

A bachelor in relevant business or logistics degrees is available at all eight universities in New Zealand, and some polytechnics. The New Zealand School of Export and the Export Academy of New Zealand provides import/export specific courses by distance, so these courses can be done from anywhere in New Zealand.

New Zealand School of Export: 
Export Academy of New Zealand: 

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a bachelor’s degree in ‘Business & Management’ has been growing in recent years. Few of these will go into exporting or importing, but it means the pool of potential new recruits is growing.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The annual income for importers and exporters is estimated to be around $73,500. Salaries for recent graduates are considerably lower. Income can often depend on the financial performance of the importing or exporting business.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Importers and exporters’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
1,401 1,179 1,470 1,506
  -2.4% 3.2% 0.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Construction, Distribution and Production Managers”.

The number of importers and exporters in employment fell slightly from 2006 to 2013. Employment is projected to increase over the next few years.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
20% 18% 1% 76% $45,000

Source: Ministry of Education.
*Two years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Business & Management. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Two years after completing a bachelor’s degree in business and management, most graduates are either in employment or further study. A fairly high proportion of graduates were overseas, while almost none were receiving a benefit. The median salary two years after completion was around $45,000. Note that only a small fraction of these graduates were employed as importers or exporters.

Importers and exporters are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Some import and export vacancies are advertised through websites such as TradeMe Jobs and Seek. Many in this industry also get jobs through connections.

TradeMe Jobs: 

Career path

Importers and exporters can go into other aspects of business such as management. Some also start their own businesses.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level exporters and importers.

  • Export Agent
  • Wholesaler

Other information


More information on importers and exporters is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand:
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Freight Forward - Export
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Freight Forwarding - Import


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of importers and exporters has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

133311 – Importer or Exporter