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Career Profile: Cargo and Freight Agents

Expedite and route movement of incoming and outgoing cargo and freight shipments in airline, train, and trucking terminals and shipping docks. Take orders from customers and arrange pickup of freight and cargo for delivery to loading platform. Prepare and examine bills of lading to determine shipping charges and tariffs.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 95,600 people employed as cargo and freight agents in the United States. The median annual salary is $43,800. Entry level employees earn approximately $27,780 per year and senior employees earn approximately $69,890 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Negotiate and arrange transport of goods with shipping or freight companies.
  • Determine method of shipment and prepare bills of lading, invoices, and other shipping documents.
  • Track delivery progress of shipments.
  • Advise clients on transportation and payment methods.
  • Inspect and count items received and check them against invoices or other documents, recording shortages and rejecting damaged goods.
  • Route received goods to first available flight or to appropriate storage areas or departments, using forklifts, hand trucks, or other equipment.
  • Direct delivery trucks to shipping doors or designated marshaling areas and help load and unload goods safely.
  • Assemble containers and crates used to transport items, such as machines or vehicles.
  • Maintain a supply of packing materials.
  • Direct or participate in cargo loading to ensure completeness of load and even distribution of weight.
  • Pack goods for shipping, using tools such as staplers, strapping machines, and hammers.
  • Attach address labels, identification codes, and shipping instructions to containers.
  • Open cargo containers and unwrap contents, using steel cutters, crowbars, or other hand tools.
  • Estimate freight or postal rates and record shipment costs and weights.
  • Keep records of all goods shipped, received, and stored.
  • Notify consignees, passengers, or customers of freight or baggage arrival and arrange for delivery.
  • Retrieve stored items and trace lost shipments as necessary.
  • Enter shipping information into a computer by hand or by a hand-held scanner that reads bar codes on goods.
  • Prepare manifests showing numbers of airplane passengers and baggage, mail, and freight weights, transmitting data to destinations.
  • Arrange insurance coverage for goods.
  • Install straps, braces, and padding to loads to prevent shifting or damage during shipment.
  • Check import or export documentation to determine cargo contents and use tariff coding system to classify goods according to fee or tariff group.
  • Coordinate and supervise activities of workers engaged in packing and shipping merchandise.
  • Contact vendors or claims adjustment departments to resolve shipment problems or contact service depots to arrange for repairs.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
95,600
Annual Openings:
10,700
Increase in Openings by 2030:
10%
Annual Salary Range:
$27,780 - $69,890
Education Requirements:
High school diploma