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How to Become a Shipping Agent

Having thoughts about taking on a new career in the global shipping industry? Among the many jobs and career paths within the realm of overseas shipping, the role of the shipping agent is one of the most essential positions in port, as well as one of the most rewarding. Handling shipping agent responsibilities takes a strong mind, a communicative focus, and the ability to lead and adapt when obstacles arise. But what does a shipping agent do? Read ahead to learn about the shipping agent position and see if it’s the right port job for you.

Primary Duties of a Shipping Agent

There is no doubt the shipping agent position is demanding, but like many fast-paced logistical jobs, at the end of the day you are responsible for an array of things. Maintaining relationships is paramount in the shipping industry, and when it comes to client services and representation, having a good attitude and respectful presence is what is expected of a shipping agent, especially when placed in control of essential port data of incoming and outgoing ship information.

So what does the shipping agent position entail? There are a handful of primary duties and responsibilities tied into the job and below is a breakdown of what one may expect on a day-to-day basis while working as a shipping agent.

A shipping agent is appointed by ship owners or the operators or charters of the ship and while the ship is berthed in foreign ports, the shipping agent acts on behalf of the client for a number of important matters such as:

  • Scheduling marine and cargo surveys and inspections as well as the need for launch boats if required.

  • Crew change transportation and medical transportation for crew members. Also scheduling transportation and arranging letters of invitation to confirm passage through customs and port authorities.

  • Tracking and relaying updates and delays for ship owners and operators.

  • Arranging pilot boats and tugs for ship entry into port.

  • Making sure ship resources in port are prepared and port dues are paid before entry.

  • Ensuring demarrage expenses are accounted for and recorded accurately after the ship leaves port.

A shipping agent does not manage port workers and crews directly but does sometimes maintain communications between the ship and in-port crew managers. This is all relative to the tasks at hand, and some interactions may become more in-depth than others. There is also no involvement in arranging fuel storage or transfers for the ship managers onboard are in control of those particular tasks.

The number one goal as a shipping agent is to get ships and crews in and out of port as fast and efficiently as possible. A shipping agent must stay on top of everything while acknowledging and solving problems if a delay arises. After the ship has sailed, the shipping agent continues acting as a record keeper while providing the full-time table of everything that happened while the client’s ship was docked in port.

The shipping agent facilitates the ship’s crew and logistical needs. Vessels also require numerous amounts of regulation certifications when it comes to onboard machinery and may be tasked to schedule or coordinate marine surveys which are mandatory in most ports. Organization and time management are also what a shipping agent must come into the job with

Inchcape shipping connects clients with essential information

Inchcape Shipping Services agents are trained to go above and beyond when safely handling port finances and disbursements. Maintaining balance while adapting to sudden changes and rising problems is what makes a great shipping agent, and honest transparency for the client is a must. The shipping agent keeps a secure and capable oversight for the tasks at hand in port. If you’re interested in this career field, stay updated on upcoming job openings at a port near you and apply online.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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