Freight Agent: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Freight agents work in the transportation industry to help organize the logistics, documentation and tracking of shipments by boat, air and trucks. This job generally only requires applicants to have a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training, though cargo-specific licensing may be required for some positions.
Freight Agent Job Description
Freight agents manage incoming and outgoing shipping logistics for cargo transportation carriers and shipping companies. They use a computer system to network and allocate resources to efficiently distribute cargo. A freight agent also determines shipping costs, finds the most efficient shipping route and tracks the location of the cargo.
Duties of a Freight Agent
Freight agents are expected to perform several duties. An agent's primary duty is to act as a logistics specialist making sure that the most effective way of transportation of goods is utilized for a client. Everything from government regulations, costs, carrier storage, documentation requirements and even banking policies may be the responsibility of the agent. Often, agents may also be required to enter data about goods and carriers into computer databases for future use.
Requirements for Freight Agents
Freight agent positions have very few requirements in terms of education and work experience. A high school diploma is the only entry-level education requirement. Often, duties are learned on-the-job with novice agents working in related low tier jobs, such as checking address labels for accuracy. As agent trainees become experienced, requirements increase with decreasing oversight.
A sizeable amount of agents use computer systems to deal with organizing logistics. While computer proficiency is not a prerequisite, those with such knowledge may have increased opportunities for employment. Knowledge in systems such as IES, Magaya and other logistics forwarding software may prove beneficial for starting freight agents.
Some freight agents may need licensed by a government organization depending on what type of cargo the client wants shipped and business operations. For instance, agents who perform freight forwarding for truck carriers in the United States need to be licensed by the Department of Motor Carriers Safety Association (DMCSA). Licensing generally involves completing an application based on business information.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for cargo and freight agents will increase by 15% over the 2012-2022 decade. The BLS attributes this much-faster-than-average job growth projection to the improving economy and an increase in online shopping, which requires the shipment of goods from retailers to purchasers all over the world. In May 2012, the BLS reported that cargo and freight agents earned a median annual salary of $39,720.
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