Freight brokers play a key role in the transportation industry, acting as the go-between for shippers who need to move their freight and the trucking companies with the commercial trucks to move these shipments. We’ll show you how to be a freight broker and the different paths you can follow. We’ll also outline what skills are required, how long it takes to become a broker, why it’s a good career choice, how freight brokers get paid and where to look for freight broker jobs.

Training and Industry Experience

Becoming a freight broker typically requires some experience in the transportation industry or in a related field. However, there are opportunities in the industry even if you are totally new to freight brokerage and have zero experience.

Training, Classes and Experience
Though formal freight broker classes aren’t legally required to become a freight broker or to start a freight brokerage, taking classes in freight brokerage can be beneficial. Both online and in-person freight broker training classes are available. Freight broker classes provide you with valuable knowledge about best practices, industry trends and all the basics of how to be a freight broker.

You also can learn about how to be a freight broker through direct, hands-on experience. Many established brokers provide on the job training and may offer sign-on bonuses to those without industry experience, particularly given recent staffing challenges. It’s worth noting that many freight brokerage owners first got started in the business by working for someone else, learning the ins and outs of the trade before starting their own businesses.

how to be a freight broker

What Skills Are Needed To Become a Freight Broker?
Becoming successful as a freight broker often requires “soft” people skills and the ability to form and maintain business relationships with shippers and carriers. The following specific skills can help you succeed as a freight broker:

  • Good oral and written communication
  • Solid negotiation skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Organization
  • Ability to network and make new connections

How Long Does It Take To Become a Broker?
Most online and in person freight broker training classes last between 30 and 45 days, though there are some online freight broker training classes that allow you to learn and progress through the course at your own pace. If you’re receiving on-the-job training and mentoring, the length of time for training will vary according to the policies of the freight brokerage with whom you’re receiving your training. Either way, once your training is complete, you’ll need to go through the licensing process and satisfy the surety bond requirement before you can roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Is It Hard To Become a Freight Broker?
Objectively speaking, it is not difficult to become a freight broker, especially if you’re planning to work in a freight brokerage owned by someone else. It can, however, take you some time to learn the nuances of the trade, like any job, and to become a successful freight broker. As you build your industry knowledge and get to know the shippers and carriers with whom you’re working, you’ll become more comfortable with the skill set required.

Benefits of Being a Freight Broker

Now is a great time to be or become a freight broker! Here’s why. According to the American Trucking Associations, nearly three quarters of the United States’ freight is moved by commercial trucks, representing $940.8 billion in revenue. That means there is more than enough business to go around, including for new freight brokers and brokerages. Since freight brokers are often paid on commission, the massive size of the U.S. freight market means there is plenty of income to be made, as well.

Real-time technology has made freight brokers’ jobs easier than ever. Real-time tracking, matching and booking technology reduces the number of tasks that you need to complete manually when you’re a broker. When you use real-time tech as a freight broker, you become more efficient and can increase the number of transactions you complete, which ultimately can boost your income significantly. 

How Much Do Brokers Get Paid?

In 2022, the average freight broker base salary was $52,390 with an average yearly commission of $33,000, bringing the total average annual salary to $85,390. Keep in mind that your salary as a freight broker will vary according to your experience level and/or education, the state or metro region in which you work, and your commission rate. Experienced, successful freight brokers can earn as much as $100,000 to $200,000/year. Freight brokers earning this salary rate typically own their own brokerages and have freight agents working under their supervision. 

Where To Look for Broker Positions

Looking for (and finding) freight broker positions is relatively easy, provided that you have a computer and an internet connection. Of course, where to look for broker positions should be driven by your personal goals, such as whether you want to work for someone else or want to open your own freight broker business.

Search Job Boards
Websites that aggregate freight broker jobs from multiple sources such as Indeed or LinkedIn are a great place to start when you’re looking for a freight broker position. These aggregate job boards make it easy for you to search by location, job type, career level, salary, requirements and other factors. You can even upload your resume if you are interested in having freight broker recruiters reach out to you about freight broker job opportunities.

Research Brokerages That Are Hiring
You also may want to research specific freight brokerages to ensure prospective employers are a good fit for your skill set and career goals. You can view each company’s website to learn more about each organization’s company culture, history, open positions, employee testimonials and benefits. You may want to research what technology and software the company provides to its freight brokers and find out about their minimum requirements for freight brokers. Reputable and established freight brokerages will be transparent and willingly provide the above information. If you have trouble finding information online about a brokerage, that may be a red flag.  

Start Your Own Freight Brokerage
You always have the option to start your own freight brokerage business if you have an entrepreneur’s spirit. As part of starting your own freight brokerage, you’ll need to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to get a U.S. DOT number and be authorized to broker freight. You’ll also need to apply for a freight brokerage bond and purchase Contingent Cargo and General Liability insurance to protect your business and the shippers with whom you contract.

To learn about the basics of freight brokerage, read “What Is a Freight Broker?