How to become a commodity trader?

Would you like to become one of the most successful commodity traders? Well, every successful commodity trader started somewhere.

I am a former commodity trader and founder of the Shipping and Commodity Academy, an online school that helps young professionals students break into the commodity industry. I believe I’m well suited to give you some solid street-smart pieces of advice different from the kind of corporate bullshit that we usually hear. Our school has been running efficiently for 3 years and we had students that got jobs in the biggest trading firms. 

I’m not going to write on how to get a job in a hedge fund or any other financial mumbo jumbo. I want to let you know how to get a job in a physical commodity trading firm. Let’s discuss the 3 different paths to landing a job as a commodity trader.

1. The unfair path: having a leverageable network

This is by far the easiest way to get a job as a commodity trader, even if you are a clueless young student. The unfair way is to already have a network and have some leverage on that network. 

How is it possible to have a network without even starting to work? It’s easy: you need to be born into one. That means that your dad, your uncle, or a close family member owns an asset like a mine or a refinery. It’s completely unfair, but that’s life.

2. The golden path: a traineeship on a big commodity trading firm

Trafigura, LDC, Glencore, Cargill and all these big names active in the commodity industry have traineeship programs that are gold. Usually, those programs will rotate for 2 years between different departments, such as logistics, compliance, finance and so on. 

It’s a great education and the companies groom you to end up in a trading firm. However, getting such an opportunity is like buying a lottery ticket. There are hundreds of applicants every year and only a few openings. So the competition is tough!

The requirement to even qualify to postulate for those jobs includes good academic background, speaking a bunch of relevant languages, being single and in the right age group. 

My recommendation about those job opportunities is to keep applying to all of them because you never know. Also, try to find a different angle to make you different from the herd. 

3. The hard knock path: sweating your ass up to the top

This is the path that I took. It’s a long, hard, and painful path. Before landing that job in a commodity trading firm, I started by managing the archive. I was on the ground pushing papers all day, no windows and no sunlight.

Then, you need to navigate your way to an operator position. If you are already within a company, it’s not that hard to get a job as an operator. The operator is the guy that executes the physical side of the contract: meaning moving the commodities from point A to point B. 

Well, how do you make the leap from an operator world to a trader world? Here’s the secret this is not corporate advice. It’s the truth: You need to become friends with the traders. It’s difficult because they don’t care much about you. As an operator, they see you as a useful slave. 

Nowadays, people are more cooperative and traders treat better their operators compared to 20 or 10 years ago. However, it’s really difficult to become friends with people that see you that way. Also, traders usually need to be aggressive and those kinds of people don’t make good friends. 

When a position opens on the trading floor, who do you think they’re going to think about to fill this position: the useful slave or the guy that they like hanging out with?

Last but not least…

The Shipping and Commodity Academy delivers unparalleled learning experiences. With our Shipping and Commodity Operation Certificate, you can easily break into the physical commodity trading world by learning how to move commodities around the world and the principal of commodity trading.

It is the perfect paper for career switchers and students. Do not hesitate to download your brochure for more info.

If you want more content about the commodities’ world, take a look at my Youtube channel.

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