What is a Freight Forwarder and How Do You Become One?
If you want to become a freight forwarder, now is not a bad time to get started, because the industry has a high demand for specialists. Although the process is not very complicated, you need to follow several steps to become a licensed freight forwarder.
What is a freight forwarder?
Freight forwarders specialize in storage and shipping of goods on behalf of importers and exporters. They provide services such as tracking goods and preparing export documents. They also negotiate freight charges, consolidate freight, book cargo space and file insurance claims.
Many people tend to confuse freight forwarders with freight brokers. Keep in mind that freight forwarders are cargo agents while freight brokers act as middlemen. Freight brokers are also important for the industry, but they do different things.
If you want to be a freight forwarder, you will need to gain knowledge about transportation methods, including booking of transports and freight costs. There are several types of freight forwarders such as trucking, airfreight and ocean transportation. But in the U.S.A., the term usually refers to trucking freight forwarders.
How to become a freight forwarder
With their knowledge of international transportation process, freight forwarders make sure that the exporter’s shipments are safely and in time. They have the proper knowledge to coordinate international transportation. For this, they have to gain enough knowledge about insurance, logistics, warehousing and a lot of other things. Here are some steps you can follow to become a freight forwarder:
Learn the basics
First of all, you have to learn about transportation process. Keep in mind that no institution provides a degree on freight forwarding. There are some firms that provide informal training. To learn more, you can attend vocational schools, courses provided by transportation companies, and workshops. Develop your administrative skills. You also need to be a good communicator.
Obtain a license
To work individually or operate a firm, freight forwarders need proper licensing and certifications. Depending on the type of services you wish to provide, you need a license issued by the International Air Transport Association, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or Federal Maritime Commission.
Specialize in a mode of transportation
A freight forwarder can specialize in a specific mode of transportation such as rail, air, in-land waterways and ocean. There are some professional associations. National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America are such associations. Consider joining those associations. Seminars and workshops will also help you gain more knowledge and develop a specialization.