How to become a freight forwarder

Job description: What does a freight forwarder do?

Freight forwarders organize the dispatch of goods. They deal with various service providers who are active within what is known as a logistics chain. These include the companies that commissioned the shipment, the freight companies, the operators of warehouses, customs authorities, airports, shipping ports, rail operators, insurance companies, and the delivery recipients. Depending on the employer, the companies involved can be located anywhere in the world.

Forwarding agents plan dates for the freight shipment and select the means and routes of transport suitable for the goods. To do this, they use their knowledge of the specific requirements for freight transport. Dangerous goods, liquid goods, food – there are regulations for all of them for transport. When planning and selecting, you have to bring economic considerations in line with customer requirements.

They also decide on the proper packaging and securing the load, and arrange the goods’ insurance. For shipping, freight forwarders calculate the prices, prepare offers, place orders, and work out contracts. In the shipment preparation, they put together all the necessary papers for the service providers and authorities involved, such as freight and customs papers and the insurance company’s documents. In the case of special deliveries, they have to obtain approval from the authorities, for example, to block roads for heavy loads.

The storage of goods can also be part of the job description. Here, freight forwarders must have extensive knowledge of the requirements, including the required space, suitable containers, and necessary safety precautions.

You can also perform all of these tasks in an advisory capacity, such as working for one of the logistics chain service providers. Then the focus of their work is the sale of the relevant services.

Once the order has been placed, one of the freight forwarders tasks is to monitor the delivery, resolve any problems, and, if necessary, process complaints and damage reports. The last step in order processing is billing, monitoring of incoming payments, and, if necessary, dunning.

Freight forwarder responsibilities and requirements

In this job, dealing with a wide variety of IT applications is part of daily tasks. In addition to working with merchandise management systems, this also includes online freight exchanges and web portals for various logistics chains. Freight forwarders should, therefore, be confident in handling computers and standard applications. Job advertisements often require specific knowledge, such as experience with SAP.

Many companies also organize international transport, so at least a good command of Spanish is required. The language skills must also include the forwarding specialist vocabulary to issue the various documents for the international movement of goods.

The job brings freight forwarders into daily contact with various people at customers, service providers, and authorities – in person, by telephone, or in writing. You have to negotiate with them, sell or buy services, push through deadlines, deal with problems, and control deliveries. Therefore, a confident manner, assertiveness, negotiation skills, and tenacity are constructive in this profession. Since high goods are often transported and late deliveries can cause significant economic damage, working as a freight forwarder can also be stressful.

Job offers are often advertised for sub-areas of the forwarding business. The corresponding in-depth knowledge is required, for example, in customs clearance, export, or dangerous goods transport. They are also employed in larger manufacturing companies.