Shipbroker article illustration


Shipbrokers act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers of ships, cargospace on ships and charter ships for the transfer of cargo. They inform clients on the shipping market mechanisms and movements, report on vessel and cargospace prices and sales, and negotiate not only the cost of the vessels, cargospace or cargo but also the logistical requirements for the transfer of the vessel or commodity cargo to the buyers.

Shipbrokers typically do the following:

  • Take orders for freight pickup and note the location, contact information and necessary equipment
  • Use shipping management software to schedule freight pickups and delivery with carriers and drivers
  • Ensure team members have the proper insurance coverage, licenses and forms to comply with laws
  • Check driver identification and communicate shipping, handling and location information
  • Arrange port activities like the loading and discharge of cargo, ensuring cargo is safe and secure
  • Check the condition of cargo when received, fill out liability forms and fill out bills of landing forms
  • Ensure the safe transportation of the proper amount of cargo to the correct location and by the deadline
  • Handle weather and road delays that affect transportation procedures and timelines
  • Compile paperwork, including receipts and rates of pay, to send invoices for services to the proper parties
  • Seek and maintain working relationships with clients and markets throughout the world

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to shipbroker:

shipping broker
ship broker

Working conditions

Shipbrokers typically work for shipbroking agencies. They spend much of their time at fast-paced ports, ensuring the proper cargo is on the correct ships and sent or delivered to the right places. They may travel on ships to overseas locations to meet with clients or track shipments, which means they usually need flexibility in their schedules. Their work hours are typically regular, but may vary based on busy shipment seasons and times.

Minimum qualifications

Shipbroker positions usually require candidates to be at least 18 years old, but they may not require an educational background. This is because many employers provide on-the-job training. However, earning a diploma can help make you a more competitive candidate. You can also complete further education to learn valuable skills and knowledge of the industry. Attend a polytechnic or university to gain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in shipping management, maritime studies, business administration, economics or a related area.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Shipbroker is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Shipbroker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to shipbroker.

commodity trader
commodity broker
futures trader
foreign exchange broker
foreign exchange trader

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of shipbroker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of shipbroker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

bankruptcy trustee
middle office analyst
investment fund management assistant
securities analyst
bank treasurer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of shipbroker.

  • Shipping industry: The different services such as liner services, maritime transportation and shipload services offered by maritime organisations and the shipping market including the sale of vessels, goods or commodities.
  • Banking activities: The broad and continuously growing banking activities and financial products managed by banks ranging from personal banking, corporate banking, investment banking, private banking, up to insurance, foreign exchange trading, commodity trading, trading in equities, futures and options trading.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of shipbroker.

  • Negotiate sales contracts: Come to an agreement between commercial partners with a focus on terms and conditions, specifications, delivery time, price etc.
  • Negotiate price: Arrange an agreement on price of products or services provided or offered.
  • Negotiate with stakeholders: Negotiate compromises with stakeholders and strive to reach the most beneficial agreements for the company. May involve building relationships with suppliers and customers, as well as ensuring products are profitable.
  • Manage contracts: Negotiate the terms, conditions, costs and other specifications of a contract while making sure they comply with legal requirements and are legally enforceable. Oversee the execution of the contract, agree on and document any changes.
  • Consult shipping rates: Seek information about shipping rates and compare these rates between different providers of goods or commodities.
  • Trade ships: Buy or sell ships on behalf of a private customer or corporate customer. This includes negotiating with shipowners and clients, finalising contracts between the two and arranging the logistical part of the sale.
  • Handle financial transactions: Administer currencies, financial exchange activities, deposits as well as company and voucher payments. Prepare and manage guest accounts and take payments by cash, credit card and debit card.
  • Liaise between the client and various transportation services: Serve as an intermediary between the customer and various transportation services.
  • Negotiate buying conditions: Negotiate terms such as price, quantity, quality, and delivery terms with vendors and suppliers in order to ensure the most beneficial buying conditions.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of shipbroker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Ship related legislative requirements: Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning safety of life at sea, security and protection of the marine environment.
  • International trade: The economic practise and study field that address the exchange of goods and services across geographic borders. The general theories and schools of thought around the implications of international trade in terms of exports, imports, competitivity, GDP, and role of multinational companies.
  • Commodities in maritime transportation: Knowledge of the most important commodities in maritime transportation, i.e. oil, grain, ore, coal and fertilisers, and their characteristics and subdivisions.
  • International commercial transactions rules: Pre-defined commercial terms used in international commercial transactions which stipulate clear tasks, costs and risks associated with the delivery of goods and services.
  • Economics: Economic principles and practices, financial and commodity markets, banking and the analysis of financial data.
  • Commercial law: The legal regulations that govern a specific commercial activity.
  • Electronic communication: Data communication performed through digital means such as computers, telephone or e-mail.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of shipbroker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Trace financial transactions: Observe, track and analyse financial transactions made in companies or in banks. Determine the validity of the transaction and check for suspicious or high-risk transactions in order to avoid mismanagement.
  • Oversee shipment routing: Organise the distribution of the cargo, also known as ‘forwarding’. Take into account the instructions of the client and determine where regular routing or various routings may be required.
  • Protect client interests: Protect the interests and needs of a client by taking necessary actions, and researching all possibilities, to ensure that the client obtains their favoured outcome.
  • Maintain records of financial transactions: Collate all the financial transactions done in the daily operations of a business and record them in their respective accounts.
  • Obtain financial information: Gather information on securities, market conditions, governmental regulations and the financial situation, goals and needs of clients or companies.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Distinguish various types of ships: Recognise and name various types of vessels common in European maritime transport; understand the different characteristics, construction details, and tonnage capacities of different vessels.
  • Advise on merchandise features: Provide counsel on the buying of merchandise such as goods, vehicles or other objects, as well as providing information on their features and attributes to clients or customers.
  • Demonstrate products’ features: Demonstrate how to use a product in a correct and safe manner, provide customers with information on the product’s main features and benefits, explain operation, correct use and maintenance. Persuade potential customers to purchase items.
  • Provide financial product information: Give the customer or client information about financial products, the financial market, insurances, loans or other types of financial data.

ISCO group and title

3324 – Trade brokers

  1. Shipbroker – ESCO
  2. What Is a Ship Broker? | Singapore
  3. Featured image: Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash
Last updated on January 4, 2023

What do you want to do with this job?

You will be brought to the forum page

Requires a business account

Requires a business account

Thinking about your next career move?

Answer a few questions about your jobs and education, and we’ll give you suggestions about your best possible career move. It’s completely free!