Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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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, including the process of purchasing or selling products in different countries.

Their tasks may include:

  • identifying local and overseas business opportunities
  • developing and implementing business plans, and marketing, operating, human resource, pricing and credit policies and procedures
  • determining the mix of products and services to be provided and negotiating conditions of trade
  • liaising with local and overseas suppliers and distributors about orders and products
  • researching regulatory and statutory requirements affecting the importing, exporting, wholesaling and distribution of goods
  • monitoring business performance and preparing estimates, financial statements and reports of operations
  • appointing agents and distributors
  • arranging the shipping of goods into and out of the country.

Qualifications needed

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

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

Cost of study

There are many different qualifications from different qualification providers that can be useful or relevant to importers and exporters.  Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

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

Many universities and polytechnics offer relevant courses throughout New Zealand.

Completed qualifications

From 2012 to 2016, the number of students completing a bachelor degree in Business & Management has generally been rising, with a fall in 2017.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The annual income for importers and exporters is estimated to be around $78,400. 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 2023 2028
1,401 1,179 1,240 1,300
  -2.4% 0.8% 0.8%

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 by 0.8% over the next five to ten years.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
22% 12% 3% 68% $53,000


Source: Tertiary Education Commission

*Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Business & Management.

Three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in business and management, the large majority of graduates are in employment. A fairly high proportion of graduates were overseas, while very few were receiving a benefit. The median salary three years after graduation was estimated to be about $53,000. 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