If you have excellent organization skills, strong networking and negotiation abilities, and a charming, professional personality, a freight broker career may be a perfect fit for you. Enrolling in a degree program at an accredited freight broker school can help you gain the skills and experience you need to qualify for a high-paying freight broker job.
Education & Training
How Long Does it Take to Complete Freight Broker Training?
Individuals should expect to complete their necessary training and obtain their required licensing within 3 to 6 months. The time it takes to become a freight broker depends on your prior experience and where you complete your education.
How Much Does Freight Broker Training Cost?
On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. This cost typically includes the freight broker training program, application fees for obtaining a license, and expenses related to establishing a business, such as a surety bond and office equipment. Researching and budgeting for these costs before pursuing a freight broker career is essential.
What Do You Learn in a Freight Broker Training Class?
An educational course for prospective freight brokers will address the following:
- The Basics of Freight Brokering: Fundamental knowledge for the career and the basic qualifications for freight brokers.
- Business Management: How to set up an office and develop your corporate identity, as well as how to set up a shipper and carrier packet for your business.
- Technical Skills: Software used for accounting and operations.
- Communication: Determining rate quotes between your brokerage, the shipper, and the carrier.
- Legal Intricacies: Terms, insurance requirements, liabilities, recordkeeping practices, and contract and transportation law involved in a freight brokering business.
If you have no experience, a legitimate online course is a great way to get started!
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an almost 9% increase in the demand for cargo and freight agent jobs between 2021 and 2031. As such, qualified candidates may have an easy time finding a freight broker job with a shipping company over the next decade. Brokers running their own businesses might also be able to find more clients during this time frame.
Salary & Career Outlook
How Much Does a Freight Broker Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for freight brokers is $23.91 per hour or $49,740 per year.
The bureau cites freight brokers as a “Bright Outlook” career, expecting an increase in job openings of up to 30% in the next 5 years. The US Department of Transportation additionally emphasizes this forecasting, expressing a continuous rise in job openings for freight brokers needed to sustain the industry’s momentum, with over 11 billion tons of freight being transported by truck alone each year.
An independent freight broker with their own company might make as much as $69,450 or more annually.
Freight brokers serve as intermediaries in logistics, connecting shippers and carriers to optimize the movement of goods. Their role includes negotiating contracts, managing regulations, and leveraging technology for efficient cargo transportation, pivotal in global commerce.
How do you get started on this path? Here, we break down the critical components of the journey to becoming a freight broker.
Why are Freight Brokers Needed?
Freight brokers are essential in the logistics and transportation industry as they bridge the gap between shippers and carriers, streamlining the process of moving goods. Their expertise is crucial for negotiating favorable contracts, navigating intricate shipping regulations, and leveraging technology to optimize transportation routes.
By efficiently matching shippers with reliable carriers, freight brokers contribute to cost-effectiveness and timely deliveries. Their role is vital for small to medium-sized businesses needing more resources or networks to manage logistics independently.
Overall, freight brokers play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth and efficient flow of goods within the global supply chain.
What is a Freight Broker?
Freight brokers, also known as cargo and freight agents, act as go-betweens for carrier and shipping companies. When a person or company purchases individual or bulk items, a freight broker’s work begins. Although freight broker is a versatile role, the primary responsibility of these professionals is to ensure that product shipments arrive at the appropriate destination safely and on time.
What Does a Freight Broker Do?
Coordinating the transport of multiple large shipments is a challenging task, so those working freight broker jobs have a sizable list of duties they must complete each day.
While specific job descriptions may vary by employer, most freight brokers:
- Gather information from clients to determine their shipping needs.
- Find potential carriers that provide the services the shipper is looking for.
- Get shipping quotes from carrier companies and relay them to the shipper.
- Maintain communication between shippers and carriers as they negotiate contracts, prices, and payments.
- Book carrier services through whichever company the shipper chooses and coordinate shipment pickup and drop-off times.
- Track carrier vehicles to ensure products arrive undamaged and on time.
- Informing clients about supply chain issues or accidents that affect delivery times.
- Keep accurate notes for personal and client records.
What Are the Requirements to be a Freight Broker?
Extensive experience and a thorough understanding of the freight shipping industry is essential for anyone wanting to pursue a freight broker career. Many people gain this knowledge through formal training at a trade school or community college. Former truck drivers, logistics managers, or dispatchers in the trucking and transportation field may also have the necessary experience for this role.
A freight broker also needs knowledge of various truck lines, steamship lines, and airlines so they can arrange the fastest, most efficient transport routes for each shipment their client needs. As these professionals network and build relationships with different shippers and carriers, having information about convenient shipping routes can be a huge help.
What Skills Should Freight Brokers Have?
In addition to a formal education and hands-on experience, a freight broker needs some basic skills to help them succeed in this role.
Attributes and abilities that can benefit a freight broker include:
- Excellent customer service and sales skills for communicating with clients
- Networking abilities to build connections with multiple shipping and carrier companies
- An understanding of how to read and create spreadsheets and use logistics and bookkeeping software to organize documents
- Analytical skills when matching shippers with carriers that offer the best services and rates
- Critical thinking skills for selecting transportation routes
- Problem-solving abilities for managing any issues that occur during shipping
Where Do They Work?
Freight brokers can work in various settings across the transportation and logistics industry. Freight brokerage firms employ many as intermediaries between shippers and carriers.
Others may work with shipping companies, trucking firms, or third-party logistics providers.
The role is adaptable to different sectors, including air, land, and sea transportation. With the increasing reliance on technology, virtual and remote work options are also common for freight brokers, allowing them to operate efficiently from different locations and fostering flexibility in their careers.
Once they gain enough experience and connections in the industry, many freight brokers decide to start their own businesses.
What is the Work Environment Like?
The work environment for freight brokers is often fast-paced. Whether employed by a brokerage firm or working independently, they typically operate in office settings equipped with the technology necessary for communication and logistics management.
The job involves constant interaction with shippers, carriers, and industry stakeholders, requiring strong communication and negotiation skills. Meeting deadlines, adapting to shifting market conditions, and staying updated on industry regulations are integral aspects of the work.
The advent of digital platforms has also enabled some freight brokers to work remotely, providing flexibility in managing their responsibilities while maintaining a focus on optimizing transportation efficiency.
What Kind of Training do Freight Brokers Need?
Most of the training that goes into obtaining a freight broker degree covers the standard procedures and practices that ensure a smooth shipment transportation process. Courses typically teach students about different transportation options and the regulations they must follow to comply with state and federal laws.
Another important part of the freight broker training process involves learning about the various documents a broker needs while on the job. During freight broker school, students work with templates of several different forms and spreadsheets to develop the necessary record-keeping skills they’ll need for their freight broker careers.
These documents typically include the following:
- Shipper-Broker Agreements: Contract between the shipping company and the freight broker
- Broker-Carrier Agreements: Contract between the broker and the carrier company
- Load Tender and Confirmation Forms: Lists of shipment details that the carrier can use when planning delivery methods
- Rate Confirmation Documents: States that the carrier agrees to transport the shipper’s products for the negotiated rate
- Invoices and Bills of Landing: Receipts for the pickup and drop off of a shipment
- Certificates of Carrier Insurance: Ensures that the carrier company has the proper types and amounts of insurance coverage to legally transport the shipper’s goods
- Valid Proof of Cargo Insurance: Confirms that each load has at least a $100,000 coverage policy.
- Contract Labor Receipts: A bill requiring the shipper to pay contract laborers who help unload shipments upon delivery.
- Shipper Past-Due Letters: Document informing the shipper of missed or late payments for the freight broker’s services.
Those hoping to run their own freight broker companies may also study marketing and advertising to learn the best methods for drumming up business. International business, communication, and finance courses are beneficial as well. You may even want to take a few legal and accounting classes so you can operate your business independently for a while until you can afford to hire an accountant and lawyer.
Is Being a Freight Broker Stressful?
A freight broker job can be stressful, especially when you’re new to the industry and struggling to find clients. Even more experienced agents deal with complex challenges, such as assisting with tough negotiations between shippers and carriers or handling shipment mix-ups, damages, and delays in an effort to keep deliveries on track.
Do You Need a License to Become a Freight Broker?
Again, all freight brokers in the United States must have an official license from the FMCSA. Brokers must submit a Unified Registration Systems form and pay a one-time $300 application fee to receive a USDOT number from the federal Department of Transportation. From there, you must purchase a Surety Bond of at least $75,000 for protection in case a client accuses you of unfair business practices.
How Does a Freight Broker Get Loads?
Freight brokers typically subscribe to load boards or use industry-specific search engines to find potential shipment opportunities. Once they find a load that they can cover, the freight broker makes a bid on the load.
If the poster prefers the broker’s terms, rates, and services over other bidders, the shipper that created the post will accept their bid.
Can a Freight Broker Work From Home?
Since freight brokers work around shipper and carrier schedules, they rarely have set work hours. Because of this, many freight brokers work from home. If you choose to be a remote freight broker, you’ll need a designated workspace that can accommodate your computer setup. You must also be available to take and make phone calls at any time in the case of a delivery or shipping issue.
What Other Career Options do Freight Brokers Have?
Freight brokers with the proper training and education can also work as dispatchers and logistics managers at shipping and carrier companies. Many of the skills freight brokers have can also qualify them for delivery driver, sales agent, and customer service roles in the trucking and transportation industry.
Are Freight Brokers and Dispatchers the Same?
No, freight brokers and dispatchers perform distinct roles within the transportation industry.
Freight brokers act as intermediaries, connecting shippers with carriers and negotiating freight deals. They focus on sales, customer relations, and securing transportation contracts.
On the other hand, dispatchers manage the day-to-day operations of shipments, coordinating the movement of goods, tracking deliveries, and communicating with drivers. Dispatchers ensure that shipments are executed efficiently, handling logistics and troubleshooting any issues that may arise during transit.
While both play vital roles in the supply chain, their responsibilities differ, with brokers concentrating on brokerage activities and dispatchers overseeing operational logistics.
Freight Broker vs. Carrier: What’s the Difference?
Freight brokers act as bridges between shippers and carriers. On the other hand, a carrier is the entity responsible for physically transporting the goods.
Carriers can be individual owner-operators with a single truck or large transportation companies with a fleet of vehicles. They execute the freight movement, ensuring it reaches its destination safely and on time. In summary, a freight broker arranges transportation, while a carrier performs the physical transport.
Freight Broker vs. Forwarder
Freight brokers act as intermediaries, facilitating deals between shippers and carriers, negotiating rates, and managing the transportation process. In contrast, freight forwarders take on a more comprehensive role, overseeing the supply chain process. Forwarders handle shipping, documentation, and customs clearance and may utilize multiple carriers and modes of transport to move goods internationally.
Essentially, a broker focuses on connecting parties for domestic shipments. At the same time, a forwarder provides a broader range of services, especially for international shipments, ensuring a seamless end-to-end transport solution for clients.
Freight Broker vs. Owner Operator
A freight broker facilitates transactions between shippers and carriers, negotiates rates, and manages logistics. Essentially, brokers operate as middlemen who do not own or operate the actual trucks but connect businesses needing shipping with available transportation services.
On the other hand, an owner-operator is an individual who owns and operates a commercial truck, typically working as an independent driver. Owner-operators may work directly with shippers or freight brokers to secure contracts and transport goods, functioning as drivers and business owners.