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Ship Broker


Ship brokers buy and sell ships, yachts and cargo space on ships for clients. Some brokers offer a wide range of ship brokerage and consulting services to international marine, trading, and financial clients worldwide. They are often licensed and bonded in yacht and ship sales and do inspections of vessels. They will usually take clients on a tour of a potential vessel and explain the different features, almost like a real estate agent showing a house. They help clients find the exact vessel they are looking for and try to make the buying experience a pleasurable one. They see to all of the details including paperwork and other tedious elements involved in the shipping process, both nationally and internationally. They act as an individual or company's representative, doing everything possible to assist clients in all of their yachting and boating needs in the present and for years to come. Some ship brokers also organize charters.

Ship brokers must keep up-to-date on cargo rates and local departure locations and times. Then they will negotiate deals with clients and establish rates to be paid. Ship brokers also arrange for the registration and licensing of ship purchases. Since the entire ship brokering world is unregulated and unpredictable, laws are constantly changing regarding marine purchasing, fishing and related regulations. That is why more ship and yacht owners, operators and charterers are turning to ship brokers to take care of the logistics and help them through the legal process of brokering.
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  Interests and Skills  
Ship brokers must have excellent communication skills, a good memory, maintain a high standard of personal integrity, and enjoy working with computers. They must be able to keep up with ever-changing computer systems, marine standards, trade and customs procedures, laws and regulations, have the ability to evaluate ships accurately and handle many details in a short time, and work well under pressure when problems arise.

They should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, talking to people, and making decisions. Ship brokers must be honest, ethical and fair. Since they are dealing with the law, brokers risk losing their licenses if they provide inaccurate or incorrect information to customers.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Purchase and sell cargo space on ships on behalf of individuals, companies and governments
  • Consult with trade publications and other sources to provide information to clients on available cargo space, destinations, rates and departure locations and times
  • Negotiate rates and terms with clients and prepare contracts and other papers
  • Buy and sell ships and yachts on behalf of clients
  • Inspect vessels, explain features and negotiate price when purchasing or selling for clients
  • Arrange for insurance coverage for cargo or for ships
  • Arrange for registration and licensing of ships
  • Ship brokers work out of offices, meeting with clients and negotiating deals for ships. Hours are generally standard, except for meetings scheduled at night or on the weekends. They often travel to ports and piers in order to show ships, vessels and yachts to potential buyers. Their offices will usually be located in coastal cities or towns.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Ship brokers work in government marine organizations or Customs and in ship brokerage or chartering companies. Some ship brokers are also self-employed and own their own brokerage or chartering firm.

  Long Term Career Potential  
The long term career advancement for ship brokers usually takes the form of increased job responsibility or clientele and a pay increase. Ship brokers with experience may also act as consultants or agents of the ship industry, guiding clients on various aspects of marine and purchasing laws. They may be hired on directly for a large company as a permanent employee, instead of taking on different contracts. Ship brokers may also decide to open up their own ship brokering firms and become their own boss.

  Educational Paths  
Ship brokers are required to have a high school diploma at the very minimum. Some postsecondary education in commerce or a related marine field may be required. Ship brokers require several years of on-the-job training, truly the best place to learn about the industry. Correspondence courses from the Institute of Chartered Ship Brokers in London, England or the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents in New Jersey is available for ship brokers, wishing to learn more about their careers and become members of the Institute. Membership has a few requirements: One must be over 21 years of age, have been engaged in the shipping business for a minimum of four years, have successfully completed the qualifying examinations, and satisfying the controlling council that they are a fit and proper person.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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