What’s it like working as a Ship Broker? Ship broking is an exciting and potentially financially rewarding career, with options to work at ship broking companies around the world. Acting as an intermediary, a Ship Broker negotiates and attempts to seal a deal between shipowners and charterers or the buyers and sellers of ships in return for a commission payment. The dynamic nature of the business means that Ship Brokers must be in touch with the market, so that they are well positioned to close a contract between two parties when the opportunity arises. Working hours can be demanding with Ship Brokers expected to be alert to the different trading zones of Asia, Europe and the Americas. They may also have to commit to on-call periods out of office hours to ensure the 24/7 coverage needed in this fast-moving and competitive industry.
What kind of work can I do? Ship Brokers will be expected to provide clients with a wide range of market intelligence and advice, initiate deals with potential clients, negotiate and finalise the terms of a contract or sale, and follow the deal through to its conclusion. They are most often found in the chartering market, where they act as a middle man between ship owners and charterers, but Ship Brokers can also be found in the sale and purchase market, negotiating between buyers and sellers of ships. Ship Brokers in the sale and purchase market see fewer deals than their chartering counterparts, but to balance that, earnings for sale and purchase ship brokers are generally higher. Where can I work? Ship Brokers can be employed by specialist ship broking firms, of which there are many around the world, by major shipping companies that employ in-house Ship Brokers, or by chartering companies. Within shipbroking, roles can be broken down into a number of sub-specialities, for example dry cargo chartering, tanker chartering, sale and purchase of ships, liner agency, port agency and ship management. Many employers take on recruits that are new to shipping and to ship broking, and put emphasis on work-based training. There are also shipping-related degrees available in many international universities and colleges that will give a good grounding in shipping business, and professional qualifications available for Ship Brokers. In terms of geographic location, Ship Brokers are not tied to just port or coastal areas. International shipping service centres, such as London, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Oslo, all house ship broking companies to cater for chartering and sale and purchase brokers. A Ship Broker, working in this highly competitive business, prides him/herself on good negotiation skills and personal drive.
How big is this sector? There has been a concentrated growth in ship broking over the past decade and while business will naturally wane as the economic cycle drops, long term prospects are for world trade to continue climbing. And as more ships trade, there will be increasing demand for the chartering and sales of those ships.