In the worlds of transportation and freight management, cargo and freight agents play a vital role – ensuring goods are delivered on time and as ordered by purchasers.
It’s a job that requires an attention to detail and an ability to manage complicated shipping operations. Although duties vary depending on the company and position, certain skills and abilities are common to most cargo and freight agents.
Freight shipping operations can be complex, particularly with large companies, and as such require focused agents to oversee the ordering, handling and transportation of products and materials. One of the first duties of an agent is to determine the most appropriate shipping method for the goods involved. Agents also work with clients to determine the most cost-efficient payment options.
Agents then oversee every aspect of getting goods from point A to point B. This includes all the logistical details of transportation – planes, ships, trains and trucks – as well as negotiating rates with the various transporters to ensure the delivery budget fits the overall project price for the customer.
Once goods are shipped, agents must monitor shipments, advising the buyer of the status of the goods as required.
Job Outlook and Salary for Cargo and Freight Agents
The need for cargo and freight agents is expected to expand. Average job growth is projected between 2014 and 2024, according to O*NET OnLine.
Among the major factors fueling the growth is that more people are using online retailers, which ship goods upon order. According to the BLS, the growing complexity of freight-shipping operations is prompting many companies to outsource the work to third-party companies.
The median annual salary for cargo and freight agents was $41,920 in May 2016, with the top 10% earning more than $64,340, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As with any occupation, job opportunities and potential salaries for cargo and freight agents vary depending on the specific industry, local market conditions, and an individual’s education and experience.
Education and Training for Cargo and Freight Agents
Employers typically have sought candidates with a high school diploma and perhaps some training for cargo and freight agent positions. As job duties continue to become more complex, including the need to make use of spreadsheets and databases, it could be helpful for candidates to have advanced educational qualifications.
For some individuals, earning a business administration degree or related degree from a liberal arts school can provide the solid foundation of a broad-based education, along with a focus on a particular specialization.
Generally, cargo and freight agents should have bookkeeping, computer, organizational and customer-service skills.
Career Paths for Cargo and Freight Agents
According to the BLS, most cargo and freight agents begin their career working for an experienced agent, and handling basic duties such as organizing inventory and weighing packages.
As they gain experience, they may assume responsibility for overseeing the tracking of shipments and for negotiating with buyers and transportation providers.
Military Occupational Specializations
Numerous military roles incorporate the skills and knowledge required of cargo and freight agents in the civilian world.
In the U.S. Army, those include cargo specialist, automated logistical specialist, medical logistics specialist, transportation management coordinator and unit supply specialist.
In the U.S. Navy, supply corps officers handle duties including inventory control, shipping and packaging, and transportation.
In the U.S. Air Force, the roles similar to those of cargo and freight agents include logistics officers, logistics readiness officers, air transportation specialists and readiness officers.