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Cargo and Freight Agents Job Description

There are a few terms for this role – cargo agent, freight agent, and freight forwarder. They are all the same role. The function of a Cargo or Freight Agent is to arrange and track incoming or outgoing shipments. The Cargo or Freight Agent usually is involved in the coordination of shipments via air, rail, road and sea.

Primary Objectives:

  • The Cargo and Freight Agent normally makes sure that all incoming and outgoing shipments are properly noted and put into a computer data base for future tracking and distribution.
  • The Cargo and Freight Agent work to speed up shipments by chalking out routes to be taken.
  • The Cargo and Freight Agent usually makes sure that all paper work is prepared in order for the shipment to be moved across country.

The Cargo and Freight Agent often takes orders from the customer in order to arrange for freight pickup and its delivery to the desired destination. The Cargo and Freight Agent keeps careful records of cargo, and documents any missing or damaged items. It is vital that the Cargo and Freight Agent document these items so the customer who bought them can get a replacement or credit for any missing or damaged goods. The report that the Cargo and Freight Agent prepares will determines any claim that the receiving customer may have against the person who sent the merchandise in order to get reimbursed. The method that the merchandise was shipped and how it was handled can determine if the shipper is the one who is responsible for any damaged or missing items. Sometimes the loss or damage to merchandise may not have happened at the manufacturer or the way that it was shipped instead could it be the manner that the shipper used while the goods were in transit.

The Cargo and Freight Agent usually organize cargo according to their destination and according to which shipments will be picked up first. The Cargo and Freight Agent may need to rotate some shipments because of the lack of ability for the customer to have the shipment picked up. The shipments are usually picked up in a timely manner especially those shipments that are perishable. The Cargo and Freight Agent often determine freight charges based on the type of merchandise and the distance that it needs to be taken by the freight hauler. Trucking companies often are the ones who pick up the merchandise and deliver it to the proper destination. In some events the Trucking Companies may pick up the cargo take it to an airlines that will fly it to another destination and then the Trucking Company pick it up at the new destination taking it to the final destination. That is why the Cargo and Freight Agent need to determine how much the charge for shipment will come to so the owner will know their total cost.

Most Cargo and Freight Agents only need a high school diploma in order to get the job. The Cargo and Freight Agents are usually taught how to do their job while working. Since they deal with many different types of cargo and methods of transportation and distances it is essential that they learn the job informally while working. It is rather difficult to learn how to handle this type of job with a formal education. Entry level Cargo and Freight Agents start out by checking the items to be shipped. Then they usually progress to do more levels of the work as they are trained. Most Cargo and Freight Agents are expected to be able to use automated equipment and especially computers. Most places who hire Cargo and Freight Agents prefer to hire someone who already knows how to use the computer and can do spread sheet programs. The Cargo and Freight Agent must have good knowledge of filing, bookkeeping and other clerical skills. Most of these basic skills are taught in high school so a person can be trained by taking the right courses in high school or they can go to a community college to learn the basic clerical skills and computer skills needed in order to do the job. Most places who hire someone to work as their Cargo and Freight Agent are willing to train them on the job and attend special classes at the area community college in order to be able to do the job properly.


Cargo freight forwarders have to know how to work and interact closely with customers and colleagues as well as third party companies to make sure that operations run smoothly and deadlines are never missed. They should know how to maintain control, able to track shipments as they go through all the phases of transit. They also need to know how to produce reports, and unit cost and statistical analysis. They should also have current knowledge of pertinent and applicable laws, even the prevailing political climate (especially overseas) and other factors that could influence the transportation of the goods. Senior level cargo freight forwarders may be involved in managing and overseeing departmental activities or specializing in either sea freight only or air freight only.

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