Considering a Career Change as a Freight Agent

Charlotte Miller

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Considering a Career Change as a Freight Agent

You’ve heard of truck drivers and moving companies, but have you heard of freight agents? In the world of getting goods and materials from point A to point B, freight agents are an industry glue that helps connect the various parties who need lots of stuff moved in big trucks, planes, and trains, and all of it by next Monday. Unlike what the consumer typically assumes companies like FedEx or UPS will take care of, real freight happens with shippers, both locally and nationally via intermodal connections. Freight agents help find, resolve and connect those who need shipping as businesses and those who provide it as a service. And since the pandemic, the demand for help has skyrocketed.

The Freight Agent Himself

In most cases, the freight agent operates as an independent contracting party aligned under the larger umbrella of a major freight company or partnership or a freight broker. The agents do the footwork, talking and visiting the clients, determining what their needs are and what the best shipping solution would be from available resources they can draw upon. Those resources are amplified by working for a major freight shipper or broker who handles the infrastructure of the shipping medium. From the client’s perspective, the freight agent is doing all the legwork to find the drivers and trucks. From the shipping company perspective, agents are doing the legwork finding the customers that provide shipping business. So, by connecting the two, the agent produces a win-win as a service. 

Lesser Risk to Manage in the Freight Business

Freight agents also don’t carry the burden or liability for the cargo and shipping they arrange. That is handled by the freight company or freight broker the agent represents at the time. So, while the freight agent is able to earn an income doing the legwork, they don’t have to deal with the stress or potential financial risk of something going sideways with the actual shipping, aside from being the contact point for the upset customer. Freight agents also don’t need to get into the stick aspect of managing a client’s credit; again, that risk is handled by the broker or freight company itself. Both aspects make the freight agent’s footwork well worth the trouble once the commissions start rolling in. 

What Does the Career Offer and Require?

Freight agents generate a comfortable salary nationwide as well. The average annual pay is typically above $58,000, with many agents generating more because they fully engage in their work and seek out opportunities for even more growth and advantages. Given the demand, especially with the realization of having to bolster the shipping supply chain thanks to the recent pandemic, there are hundreds of promotion and advancement options daily for those involved and working as agents already. 

What are the key skills of a freight agent? Obviously, one has to be willing to work on their feet and handle time management, communication, and relationships; be organized, have the ability to plan ahead and anticipate what’s coming instead of being surprised by it, and be a self-motivator. Most freight agents quickly find themselves operating as a small business, with staff helping them manage calls, files, orders, and shipment they’ve arranged. In short, financial freedom as a freight agent typically brings opportunities for others as well as working for the agent. 

How to Become an Agent for a Freight Company?

No one will argue that prior experience with logistics and shipping is an advantage, but it’s not a minimum requirement to get started as a freight agent. Thousands of folks nationwide have shifted into being an agent for shipping companies without previously working in the industry for a decade. In fact, many find being a freight agent a viable career shift from what they used to do in an office. Most freight agents start off and build up experience working for a major shipping company first. From there, they develop their skillset and knowledge, and eventually those who are really successful move on to become independent freight agents.

If you think being a freight agent sounds interesting enough to find out more, then it’s time to get off the chair or couch and make the first leap. The industry needs people to help bridge the gap between clients and shippers. It’s probably one of the best times ever to become an agent for a freight company in 2022.