Abstract Background Due to the difficulties in early diagnosing and treating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), prognoses for patients remained poor in the past decade. In this study, we established a screening model to discover novel prognostic biomarkers in HCC patients. Methods Candidate biomarkers were screened by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses of five HCC normal (N)/tumor (T) paired tissues and preliminarily verified them through several in silico database analyses. Expression levels and functional roles of candidate biomarkers were respectively evaluated by immunohistochemical staining in N/T paired tissue (n = 120) and MTS, colony formation, and transwell migration/invasion assays in HCC cell lines. Associations of clinicopathological features and prognoses with candidate biomarkers in HCC patients were analyzed from GEO and TCGA datasets and our recruited cohort. Results We found that the transmembrane P24 trafficking protein 9 (TMED9) protein was elevated in HCC tissues according to a global proteomic analysis. Higher messenger (m)RNA and protein levels of TMED9 were observed in HCC tissues compared to normal liver tissues or pre-neoplastic lesions. The TMED9 mRNA expression level was significantly associated with an advanced stage and a poor prognosis of overall survival (OS, p = 0.00084) in HCC patients. Moreover, the TMED9 protein expression level was positively correlated with vascular invasion (p = 0.026), OS (p = 0.044), and disease-free survival (p = 0.015) in our recruited Taiwanese cohort. In vitro, manipulation of TMED9 expression in HCC cells significantly affected cell migratory, invasive, proliferative, and colony-forming abilities. Conclusions Ours is the first work to identify an oncogenic role of TMED9 in HCC cells and may provide insights into the application of TMED9 as a novel predictor of clinical outcomes and a potential therapeutic target in patients with HCC.