Shipping agents manage the flow of goods transported by air, sea, rail and truck. According to the California Employment Development Department, shipping agents act as brokers taking orders for materials and arranging the route and method of delivery. The agent also handles customs and other regulatory documentation for the shipment.
Some freight agents work as independent business people and others work for freight brokerage companies. Some freight brokerage companies offer on the job training or internships for prospective shipping agents.
Contact local freight forwarding brokers for information. You can find some listings in the yellow pages and others by searching online. Make a list of all the ones you would like to contact for information.
Call the companies on your list and ask to speak to the human resources department. Explain your interest in becoming a shipping agent and ask for information about the job. They can guide you to resources to help you get started.
Search for colleges that offer programs in logistics and shipping. Some colleges offer programs designed to train you for a career either as an independent shipping broker or as an agent working for a broker. The program of study will help you gain knowledge of the transportation industry and the legal documentation required for working as a shipping agent. According to ed2go Online Career Training, a shipping agent needs to have Broker Authority. This is obtained from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Search online for the equipment and software you will need to work as shipping agent. Independent shipping agents need to purchase transportation software for managing the freight shipments while agents working for a brokerage will use the software provided by the agency. You will also need a good computer with broadband Internet access and a phone and fax set up for keeping in contact with clients.
Contact state and federal government agencies to investigate the job opportunities available for shipping agents. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics also offers information about shipping and freight agent careers. There you will find information about shipping agent careers including salary averages and working conditions. Your state Labor Department can provide data on shipping agent job opportunities in your state.
You can find information on becoming an import/export shipping agent at the Department of Homeland Security.
Be cautious when investigating online education opportunities. Before spending money for online courses check to see if traditional colleges offer the same distance learning courses. They will usually cost less and offer better accreditation.