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How to Become a Cargo or Freight Agent

High school graduates usually qualify for cargo and freight agent positions. Workers typically train informally on the job.

Education and Training

Employers prefer to hire cargo and freight agents who have a high school diploma or GED.

Cargo and freight agents normally start their careers working under an experienced agent and helping with basic tasks, such as weighing packages, organizing stockrooms, and double-checking addresses. As trainees gain experience, they gradually take on more responsibility. Over time, they begin working more independently and on more complicated tasks, such as tracking shipments en route and notifying clients of cargo pick-up or delivery.

Cargo and freight agents often use computer databases and spreadsheets for large portions of their work, and must be familiar with the necessary software. This may involve taking short-term training programs over the course of their careers.

Important Qualities

Bookkeeping skills. Accurate record keeping is essential for tracking shipment updates, inventories, client and payment records, and other information.

Computer skills. Agents use computer programs to store records, track inventory, and communicate with clients. They must be familiar with and feel comfortable using various software and programs.

Customer-service skills. Cargo and freight agents interact frequently with clients, logistics companies, and others in the shipping industry. They must be able to courteously and promptly provide shipment updates, price quotes, and other information upon request.  

Organizational skills. Cargo and freight agents must make sure that cargo arrives or is picked up at its destination on time. Agents must be able to plan shipments to ensure prompt delivery.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition