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Cargo and Freight Agents Job Description, Career as a Cargo and Freight Agents, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High School Diploma

Salary: Median— $37,110 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Cargo and freight agents arrange and track incoming or outgoing shipments. They are involved in coordination of shipments via air, rail, road and sea. They work to speed up shipments by chalking out routes to be taken and preparing all necessary documentation. They are also involved in taking orders from customers for arranging freight pickup and its delivery to desired destinations. Cargo and freight agents also keep careful records of cargo, and document any missing or damaged items.

Cargo and freight agents generally arrange cargo according to their destination. They determine shipping rates and other freight charges, and they ensure that proper procedures are followed for importing or exporting freight items. Cargo and freight agents generally track shipments using electronic means and answers customer queries regarding status of the shipment.

Education and Training Requirements

Cargo and freight agents normally do not need anything more than a high school diploma. They usually learn about their duties informally while working. Entry-level cargo and freight agents generally start out by checking the items to be shipped. They ensure proper delivery at required destinations. As these jobs get increasingly automated, workers may need prolonged training for using the equipment used for such processes. People who are skilled in the use of computers are always preferred by cargo and freight employers. Cargo and freight agents must also have a good knowledge of filing, bookkeeping and other clerical skills.

Getting the Job

Cargo and freight agents are in demand by courier agencies and companies dealing extensively in shipping of materials from one place to another. Candidates can find job openings in classified section of leading daily newspapers. Job vacancies are also listed in employment journals and web based job portals. Candidates can also directly approach transportation companies for jobs as cargo and freight agents.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Cargo and freight agents generally have limited opportunities for advancement. However, some may rise to supervisory positions by their hard work and experience in the field. Some agents may also utilize their skills and hands-on experience to make a career switch to various clerical occupations related to their expertise.

Employment for cargo and freight agents is expected to grow faster than the average rate for other industries. As the demand for online shopping increases, leading to a consequent increase in cargo traffic, there will be a growing demand for cargo and freight agents. Job openings are also expected to arise because of the need to fill openings created by other cargo and freight agents retiring or leaving the occupation.

Working Conditions

Cargo and freight agents work in a variety of conditions for a wide number of businesses. They may work in warehouses or stockrooms that may not be temperature controlled. Some of them may even have to work in cold storage rooms or on loading platforms exposed to the weather.

Cargo and freight agents have work which involves a certain level of physical exertion. They frequently have stand for long periods of time, as well as lifting items. Even though automated devices usually reduce the workload of an agent, many employers do not have such devices. The work of cargo and freight agents is strenuous in nature.

A normal workweek for an agent is from Monday to Friday. However, when large shipments are being handled, agents may be required to work in the evening as well as on weekends.

Where to Go for More Information

Air Transport Association of America Inc.
1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 626-4000

Regional Airline Association
2025 M St. NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 367-1170

U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590.

Earnings and Benefits

The median annual earnings by cargo and freight agents in May 2006 was $37,110. In general, a cargo and freight agent can expect to earn between $27,750 and $46,440 per year. Cargo and freight agents working in the air transportation industry receive the highest annual salary.

Cargo and freight agents usually receive health benefits, vacation, and retirement benefits, but this varies depending on employer and industry. It is standard for employers to provide uniforms (if needed) for their agents.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesTransportation & Logistics