(Original post by Hernán Cortés)
Sorry to bump this thread but I think my post will be useful for future searches about shipbroking.
I currently work for a shipbroking company in London so would like to give my advice to anyone interested in the industry.
There are two types of shipbroking - chartering and sales & purchase (SNP).
Chartering is to do with 'fixing a ship' or a cargo. Main cargoes are bulk/wet/containers. It can be anything from coal, grain, crude oil, chemicals, fresh water, animals, cement and many others. Cargo is usually only fixed for one specific voyage between loading port(s) and discharging port(s). Chartering can also be fixing a ship to a charterer for a few months up to 5 years, from rates of $5000 - $150000+ per day. Chartering brokers usually have quite repetitive work and often work with the same clients quite frequently.
Sales and purchase (the broking I'm involved in) is to do with exactly that. SNP broking is usually better paid that chartering because the values of the ships can run into hundreds of millions of dollars, with SNP brokers taking typically 1% com (charterering brokers take 3.75%). Owners don't tend to go to brokers to buy ships very often, so a good relationship over years is needed with owners, built on trust. It is more of a long term game with work less frequently, but of greater value. SNP brokers can also be involved with the breaking of a ship (selling it to be scrapped on a beach - see Alang beach, India).
Some of the biggest shops are: Clarksons, Gibsons, Howe Robinson, Simpson Spence and Young, ACM Shipping & RS Platou.
For anyone looking to get into shipbroking it is an industry that has avoided attention. Salaries can range from 25k-4m for some of the most senior brokers in Clarksons etc. A good broker after 5 years can expect to earn around 80k. You can work and live across many countries, with salaries as good as any industry. It is a highly specialised, valued career in the shipping world.
I would suggest you read as much as you can about ship types, values, different types of cargo, broking companies and shipping hubs. Trade winds is an industry newspaper which is packed with valuable information, but is quite expensive to subscribe. You really need to stand out if you're going to make it here. Competition is tough and a lot of people get here through the 'old boy' network of contacts.
Finally if you have the time/money have a look at the Intitute of Chartered Shipbrokers website. This is the only real industry qualification and is worth considering. If you don't want to take the exams you can buy the texts books.
Drop me a line if you would like any more information.