How to Become a Cargo Agent: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a cargo agent. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a cargo agent. View article »

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Should I Become a Cargo Agent?

Cargo agents manage shipments for transportation companies, air transportation agencies or courier businesses. Cargo agents are responsible for analyzing and securing the documentation, transportation and delivery of materials. The work of a cargo agent may be physically demanding and might involve moving or lifting cargo items. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary of cargo and freight agents was $41,870, as of 2015.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; certificate program available
Experience Related skills or experience usually required
Key Skills Interpersonal communication, customer service, and bookkeeping skills; use inventory, brokerage, and standard office software
Salary $41,870 (2015 median for cargo and freight agents)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

To become a cargo agent, you'll need a high school diploma or to complete a certificate program. You'll also need related skills and experience, like interpersonal communication skills, bookkeeping skills, customer service skills and knowledge of inventory, brokerage and standard office software.

Steps to Become a Cargo Agent

Let's find out what steps you'll want to take to become a cargo agent.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Most transportation agencies only require future cargo agents to possess a high school diploma. Most of the experience and training are provided on the job. Since computer use is an important part of a cargo agent's job, as that's where they typically input shipping information for goods being transported, computer courses will be useful. Mathematics courses can also aid in tasks such as determining weights and volumes, finding shipping costs and determining shipping routes.

Step 2: Consider a Certificate Program

While a formal education is not requirement for this field of work, some colleges and universities that specialize in aviation studies offer professional certificate programs for prospective cargo agents. Certificate programs train students in the basic phases of cargo operations through courses such as flight operations, hazardous materials and customer service.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Gaining work experience alongside more experienced employees through a job apprenticeship can be beneficial to gaining first-time employment through transportation agencies, though many entry-level agents work for up to a year under more experienced agents. A cargo agent's daily tasks include packing goods for future shipment, retrieving stored items, finding misplaced deliveries and arranging for the transport of soon-to-be delivered shipments.

To become a cargo agent, you'll need at least a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

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