Shipping agent

Shipping agent article illustration


Shipping agents represent the ship owner in a foreign port. They make sure customs is cleared in a timely manner so that the cargo doesn’t have to stay too long in the port. Shipping agents also ensure that insurance, licences and other formalities are in order.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to shipping agent:

ship representative
cargo agent
shipping representative
water clerk
ship local representative
port agent
shipping proxy
owners charterers agent
liner agent
ships agent
boarding clerk

Minimum qualifications

Most companies require shipping agents to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some companies may require a college degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Logistics or Business Administration. These degrees provide foundational knowledge in business, finance, accounting, marketing and management.

Most shipping companies will provide on-the-job training for new hires. This training will teach you how to use the shipping company’s software and equipment. It will also familiarize you with the company’s shipping procedures and policies.

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.

Shipping agent is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Shipping agent career path

Similar occupations

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

non-vessel operating common carrier
forwarding manager
international forwarding operations coordinator
customs and excise officer
marine cargo inspector

Long term prospects

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

import export manager in china and other glassware
import export manager in computers, computer peripheral equipment and software
import export manager in electrical household appliances
import export manager in household goods
import export manager in office furniture

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

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

  • International import export regulations: Know the principles that govern the import and export of products and equipment, trade restrictions, health and safety measures, licenses, etc.
  • Port regulation: Know port standards and legal regulations, based primarily on municipal laws, port laws or the Maritime Code.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of shipping agent.

Optional skills and competences

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

ISCO group and title

3331 – Clearing and forwarding agents

  1. Shipping agent – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Kinsey on Unsplash
Last updated on January 14, 2023

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