What does a Freight Agent do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Some freight agents specialize in railroad transport.
Some freight agents specialize in railroad transport.

A freight agent is someone who coordinates shipments of freight. Freight agents can work under the supervision of a freight broker or freight firm, or they can be employed as freelancers, applying their skills as needed to various shipping situations. No special training or education is required to become a freight agent, with most people learning on the job, although short courses covering basic topics are available, and people who are interested in ultimately becoming freight brokers may want to consider pursuing business degrees so that they can run freight businesses successfully.

A freight agent is someone who coordinates shipments of freight.
A freight agent is someone who coordinates shipments of freight.

When a freight agent is approached and asked to handle a load, the agent gets information about the load, and makes a determination about which shipping method would be most effective. Some agents specialize in specific types of transport, such as train, truck, or boat shipments. The freight agent makes arrangements for transport, including special arrangements such as refrigeration or storage in a totally dry environment if these are required.

Some freight agent jobs are entirely focused upon sea transport.
Some freight agent jobs are entirely focused upon sea transport.

Freight agents collect the fees for shipping, and they also handle issues such as customs documentation and appropriate licensing. They can provide real time information about the progress of a shipment for their customers, and some have provided their customers with online interfaces which can be used to monitor progress without talking directly to the agent or broker. Freight agents also handle issues such as delays in shipping, the transfer of goods to different shipping companies, the arrangement of container loads, and expediting of freight items to ensure that they arrive on time.

A freight agent may travel to inspect warehouses and processing facilities.
A freight agent may travel to inspect warehouses and processing facilities.

This job requires a lot of people skills, as freight agents need to be able to talk to customers successfully and to negotiate the best terms from freight carriers. A freight agent may also do a great deal of traveling to inspect warehouses and processing facilities, to meet critical figures in a shipping company, and to personally supervise tricky loads of materials. This job also requires an encyclopedic knowledge of shipping routes, shipping options, standard rates and charges, and specialty shipping services.

Freight agent jobs in major shipping and freight brokering companies open up on a regular basis for people who are interested in careers as freight agents. Some training programs also offer guaranteed job placement to their graduates, and graduates of such programs may also be able to negotiate a higher salary when they start work. When considering a career as a freight agent, people may want to think about specialty jobs such as air freight agents, agents who specialize in the transport of fine art, or agents who negotiate the movement of very large shipments.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon341133

This post is very informative and easy to understand. It's a great and useful article for new importers/exporters!

SmurphLin1

This post was great! I had been looking at some freight brokers having no idea what they really did. I looked up the term, and this is what came up. It was very informative, and will help me in the future. Thanks!

anon137899

Can a freight agent invoice the customer directly? Or is it the responsibility by law of the freight broker/carrier?

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    • Some freight agents specialize in railroad transport.
      Some freight agents specialize in railroad transport.
    • A freight agent is someone who coordinates shipments of freight.
      A freight agent is someone who coordinates shipments of freight.
    • Some freight agent jobs are entirely focused upon sea transport.
      Some freight agent jobs are entirely focused upon sea transport.
    • A freight agent may travel to inspect warehouses and processing facilities.
      A freight agent may travel to inspect warehouses and processing facilities.