How to Become a Freight Forwarding Agent

Freight forwarding is a service that is used by companies and organizations that handle domestic and international import and export shipments. Freight forwarding agents are trained workers that act as liaisons between a variety of transportation services and customers.

What does a freight forwarding agents do?

Freight forwarding agents organize and facilitate the shipping tasks of a variety of goods and services for companies and individuals. They arrange the movement of freight to domestic and international destinations and prepare and process the necessary documentation. Freight forwarding agents gather basic shipment information from clients and negotiate with carriers to get the best rate for shipping services. They determine the best transportation method such as road, rail, air, and water transportation. Freight forwarding agents must keep track of rates, shipping information, and incidences of damaged goods. Freight forwarding agents often handle large shipments for industrial or commercial firms. Some handle small personal shipments.

What kind of training does a freight forwarding agents need?

Freight forwarding agents typically need at least a high school diploma or GED. Some employers prefer applicants with sufficient work experience in the shipping field. Many aspiring freight forwarding agents complete internships or obtain part time jobs with shipping companies to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers typically provide on the job training to new freight forwarding agents to learn the necessary policies and procedures. New forwarding agents usually begin by shadowing experienced workers and completing simple tasks. They move on to more advanced duties as they gain the essential skills and experience. Freight forwarding agents complete additional training as needed throughout their careers to keep their skills current and stay up to date with changes in the transport market.

What are the prospects for a career as a freight forwarding agent?

Employment of freight forwarding agents is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 24% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The expansion of the economy and increased demand for shipping services will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for freight forwarding agents with extensive experience. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace freight forwarding agents that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do freight forwarding agents make?

As of March 2010, the average annual salary for freight forwarding agents is $47,000; average annual freight forwarding agent salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a freight forwarding agent is a great choice for people with a strong interest in the international shipping field. Freight forwarding agents must have a solid understanding of a variety of domestic and international shipping options and the related rules and restrictions. Good organizational skills, integrity, good analytical skills, and excellent negotiation skills are essential characteristics. Freight forwarding agents must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with a wide variety of people.

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