Interested in the logistics industry? If so, you may already be considering becoming a freight broker. A freight broker acts as an intermediary between shippers and carriers to facilitate the transportation of goods.
In this blog article, we’ll explore what a freight broker does, how much they can make, the pros and cons of becoming one, and how to start your own freight brokerage. Consider this your “Ultimate How-To Guide” – with fresh content for 2023.
What is a freight broker?
As we previously mentioned, a freight broker is an intermediary between shippers and carriers. Freight brokers connect shippers with carriers who can transport their goods.
Freight brokers play an essential role in the transportation industry, as they help to ensure that goods are shipped efficiently and on time. The role includes things like:
- Negotiating rates
- Handling logistics and paperwork
- Finding the best deals for clients
- Ensuring all parties involved comply with industry regulations
- Building relationships with clients and carriers to ensure repeat business
- Staying up to date on industry regulations and compliance requirements
What does a freight broker do?
Now let’s get a bit more specific. Freight brokers perform a variety of tasks, including:
Matching Shippers with Carriers
Freight brokers work with shippers to understand their needs and then match them with carriers who have the capacity to transport their goods.
Freight brokers negotiate rates between shippers and carriers. They work to get the best possible rates for their clients while ensuring that carriers are compensated fairly.
Freight brokers track shipments to ensure they’re delivered on time and in good condition. They also communicate with shippers and carriers to address any issues that may arise during the shipping process.
How much do freight brokers make?
Here’s the fun part. Freight brokers can earn a good living, with salaries ranging from less than $50,000 to more than $100,000 per year. Like any job, the income of a freight broker can vary greatly depending on the broker’s experience, reputation, location, and the number of clients they have. According to Glassdoor, the median annual total pay for freight brokers in 2023 is $76,489.
The Pros & Cons of Becoming a Freight Broker
Like any profession, there are pros and cons to becoming a freight broker.
Pros of Being a Freight Broker
- High earning potential: Freight brokers can earn a good living.
- Flexibility: Freight brokers can work from home or in an office. They often work independently.
- Relationships: Brokers can build lasting relationships with carriers and clients.
- Variety: The work of a freight broker is varied and challenging.
Cons of Being a Freight Broker
- Competition: The freight brokerage industry is competitive, requiring brokers to maintain a strong work ethic and the ability to adapt to changes quickly.
- Stress: Work can be stressful, as freight brokers are responsible for ensuring shipments are delivered on time and in good condition. They also handle large sums of money and can have tight deadlines.
- Long hours: Freight brokers often work long hours, especially when there is a lot of freight to move.
How to Start a Freight Brokerage
If you’re interested in starting a freight broker business, here are the basic steps you should take.
1. Gain the right experience.
Before starting your own freight brokerage, you’ll need to gain experience in the industry. Consider working for a reputable freight brokerage, truck company, or in another role in logistics to gain a deep understanding of how the industry works.
2. Set up your business correctly.
Once you have the necessary experience, you must set up your business. This includes obtaining any required licenses and permits, getting bonded, creating a business plan, and establishing your business structure.
3. Get your license and bond.
To become a freight broker, you must obtain a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This license requires passing a test and getting a freight broker bond (BMC-84) and insurance.
You’ll find more detailed information on everything you need to obtain your freight broker license (with links to forms and resources) on our Freight Broker Surety Bonds page.
If you plan to become a transportation service provider (TSP) for the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), you’ll also need an SDDC performance bond.
4. Find your clients.
After obtaining your license, it’ll be time to build your client base. Reach out to potential clients, build relationships, and continue providing excellent service to ensure repeat business. Attending trade shows, networking with other companies, and advertising may offer great opportunities for creating new connections.
5. Continue operating your business legally.
Finally, make sure you continue operating your business legally year after year. Stay current on industry regulations and compliance requirements (including the FMCSA’s rules for freight brokers), and ensure your operations are above board.
Helpful Resources for Freight Brokers
Various resources are available to help freight brokers succeed and stay up to date on industry trends, regulations, and best practices. Here are some of the top regulatory agencies, professional associations, and industry publications.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (fmcsa.dot.gov)
- Transportation Intermediaries Association (tianet.org)
- National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (ncbfaa.org)
- Transport Topics: The Leader in Trucking & Freight News (ttnews.com)
- FreightWaves: Supply Chains, Logistics, and Trucking News (freightwaves.com)
People Often Ask
How long does it take to become a freight broker?
The time it takes to become a freight broker can vary, but most people can complete the necessary steps in a few to several months. This includes the time it takes to gain experience, obtain the required licenses and permits, and set up your business.
What skills do I need to become a freight broker?
To become a successful freight broker, you will need excellent communication and negotiation skills, strong attention to detail, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions while hitting tight deadlines. You should also be good at managing your time effectively and working independently.
Is it expensive to become a freight broker?
You can expect to spend several thousand dollars on licensing fees, insurance, and other startup costs in the beginning. The cost of obtaining a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is $300. You will also need to obtain a bond and/or insurance, which can cost a few thousand dollars.
Additional costs may be associated with setting up your business, such as creating a website and marketing your services. These costs can vary depending on the scale of your operation and how much you’re willing to invest in your business.
What’s the difference between a freight broker and a freight forwarder?
While freight brokers and freight forwarders both work in the transportation industry, they have distinct roles and responsibilities.
- A freight broker is an intermediary between shippers and carriers. They connect shippers with carriers who have the capacity to transport their goods.
- A freight forwarder is responsible for organizing the shipment of goods from one point to another (logistics) and handling documentation and customs clearance. Other services may include consolidation and warehousing. Freight forwarders work to ensure that goods are transported efficiently and securely, handling every step of the process from origin to destination.
In short, freight brokers work to connect shippers with carriers, while freight forwarders focus on organizing and managing the transportation of goods from start to finish.
Need a freight broker bond to start your business?
We can help you find the right surety bond for your freight broker business and file it with the FMCSA for you. ZipBonds offers the fastest and most secure option for getting bonded. Our all-digital platform is intuitive and straightforward. Apply online or call us at 888-435-4191 to speak with an agent directly.