Cargo and freight agents coordinate and facilitate incoming and outgoing shipments for transportation companies and other businesses. They typically work in warehouses, stockrooms, or shipping and receiving stations. Most work full time.
Cargo and freight agents facilitate shipments of goods through airline, train, and trucking terminals and shipping docks. Agents ensure that shipments are picked up and delivered on time, paperwork is completed, and fees are collected. For international shipments, agents prepare and verify customs and tariff forms.
Some other things they do include:
Determine shipping methods and routes from pick-up location to final destination
Advise clients on transportation and payment options
Coordinate transportation and logistics details with shipping and freight companies
Estimate, negotiate, and determine postal rates, shipment costs, and other charges
Notify clients of cargo shipments, status en route, and time of delivery
Prepare bills of lading, invoices, and other required shipping documents
Record information such as cargo amount, weight, dimensions, and time of shipment
Trace lost shipments as necessary.
Agents typically manage shipments for multiple clients at once. They often arrange their clients’ cargo and freight by destination, and send out many clients’ shipments simultaneously. Most cargo and freight agents store and use records on computers. They use bar codes and the Internet to track shipments and use spreadsheets to manage inventories. Although cargo and freight agents sometimes pack items for shipping and take them to a loading dock or station, that is not their primary role.
High school graduates usually qualify for cargo and freight agent positions. Workers typically train informally on the job. 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. Accurate record keeping is essential for tracking shipment updates, inventories, client and payment records, and other information. 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.
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. 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.
Cargo and freight agents typically work in warehouses, stockrooms, or shipping and receiving stations. Often, these worksites are not temperature-controlled. As a result, some agents spend time working in cold storage facilities or may be exposed to all types of weather on outdoor loading platforms.