Freight Broker vs. Agent: Which is a Better Logistics Career?

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Freight Broker Vs. Agent

The logistics industry offers an array of fulfilling careers along the full length of the supply chain in the United States and beyond. 

For those looking to enter the industry and kickstart their career, it can be tough to figure out the best type of entry-level position to aim for. 

Two popular choices are the roles of freight broker and freight agent

Despite their similar names, these two avenues into a logistics career have distinct requirements, legalities, and even salary differences. 

This article will draw out the similarities and differences between the role of freight broker and freight agent, helping you to figure out which will be the best option for your logistics career.   

Let’s get right into it! 

Freight broker vs. agent: What’s the difference?

While freight brokers and freight agents play similar roles in the supply chain, these aren’t identical careers

Let’s break down the differences in job responsibilities, employment and legal status, training requirements, salary and benefits, and career opportunities. 

Job role and responsibilities

Freight brokers and freight agents share similar tasks and responsibilities on the job, which is a common reason for the confusion between the two roles. 

The key task of freight brokers and agents is to link shippers and carriers to facilitate freight movement from one location to another. 

To achieve this goal, freight brokers and agents may: 

  • Complete sales calls and negotiate rates with new customers
  • Book shipments and assign a suitable carrier and driver
  • Optimize shipping routes, taking into consideration weather or other disruptions
  • Calculate tariffs and import/export fees (where relevant)
  • Liaise with customers to provide updates 
  • Create invoices and maintain financial records

Other tasks may be relevant depending on location and types of shipping offered. Freight shipping is a broad and varied field, but the functions listed above hopefully provide an initial insight into the responsibilities involved. 

Employment status and legal status

One of the main differences between working as a freight broker and a freight agent is that the roles have different statuses. 

Freight brokers are licensed by the FMCSA and can work as a member of a larger brokerage that supplies logistics services or independently. Legally, a freight broker is responsible for the safety of a shipment throughout its transit and will need to hold the necessary insurance. 

On the other hand, freight agents will partner with a freight broker or logistics company to act as a sales agent and connect shippers and carriers. Freight agents do not need to be licensed, as the broker or company will carry that license.    

Training requirements

Freight Broker Vs. Agent
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Freight agents have minimal training requirements, making this an accessible entry-level position in logistics. However, agencies usually expect applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. While specific experience is not always specified, experience in customer service, project management, or another logistics role can be valuable. 

Freight brokers need to go through multiple steps to achieve active broker status. Registering with the FMCSA, gaining a brokerage license, assigning a process agent, and ensuring insurance and bonds are up to date are just a few of the set-up requirements for new brokers. 

It usually takes approximately 6-12 months to become a freight broker, and previous experience in the industry is a must. In addition, the need for up-front investments such as the surety bond, business equipment, software, and more makes freight brokering a more expensive career to get off the ground. 

Salary and benefits

Salary is another crucial consideration when choosing your career path, and it’s worth noting that freight brokers and agents get paid differently. 

Freight brokers create their income through the difference in the sale price to a shipper and the price paid to the carrier. The average annual freight broker salary in the US is estimated to be around $62,105 plus approximately $28,000 additional compensation in the form of commission.  

Freight agents typically earn their salary by commission, usually calculated at around 50-70%. This rate can translate to a salary of $30,000-50,000, with a US freight agent’s salary averaging $48,412

The higher salary opportunities for freight brokers reflect not only the higher level of responsibility and liability but also the upfront costs associated with licensure and insurance. 

Logistics career opportunities 

Working as a freight broker or a freight agent can be a fantastic entry point into the logistics industry. 

Advancing in your role could be as simple as completing additional training or certifications demonstrating your industry expertise or as complex as setting up an independent freight business of your own. 

Career advancements within the industry could look like accepting a role as a logistics or operations manager, warehouse or distribution manager, import/export coordinator, or supply chain consultant. With the US supply chain containing 37% of all jobs nationally – employing more than 44 million people – the future is looking bright for work within the logistics industry. 

If you choose to put your logistics skills to good use outside the industry, your experience as a freight broker or freight agent could set you up to succeed in a role in project management, sales, or customer service.

In summary, working as either a freight broker or freight agent can provide substantial industry experience and transferable skills that can be incredibly beneficial as you progress in your career. 

Freight broker or agent, kickstart your logistics career with Jansson today

If the logistics industry is calling your name, working as a freight broker or freight agent can be an excellent way to kickstart your career. 

At Jansson, we’re supporting the next generation of freight agents to get off the ground with access to quality training provided by our dedicated team of logistics experts.  

Benefit from Landstar’s innovative tools and technologies while joining a collaborative and friendly team working to keep America’s supply chain turning. 

To learn more about how Jansson can help you launch your freight agent career, reach out to us today!

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