Job Description of a Freight Forwarder

Written by steven w. easley
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Job Description of a Freight Forwarder
Freight Forwarders often come in contact with the freight at some point during delivery (palette bois image by philippe Devanne from Fotolia.com)

The transportation industry requires the services and skills of several types of jobs to function effectively, from company executives to brokers to the shipping clerks at warehouses. One primary job function is that of the truck driver; without freight the truck drivers cannot do their jobs. So where does the freight come from and how is it managed? Freight brokers and freight forwarders help in this process.

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Educational Requirements

Although there are courses available for freight brokers and freight forwarders, entry-level positions do not typically require a high school education or equivalent. Most companies provide entry-level employees with on-the-job training and supervision. The nature of the job is office- and warehouse-based so freight forwarders need good communication and organizational skills. Freight forwarders must also be able to multitask on several shipments at once.

Job Description

Freight forwarders are third-party, typically non-asset-based, logistics companies, which research freight rates, dispatches shipments via asset-based carriers, and monitor shipments from pickup to final delivery. Freight forwarders can also have their own facilities for the transfer of freight between modes of transportation forwarding it to its final destination. The core definition of a freight forwarder is that of an operation responsible for the forwarding of freight from one place to another.

Job Responsibilities

Freight forwarders locate, contract and connect shippers to transportation sources. Unlike freight brokers, who typically never see the freight, freight forwarding can be a very hands-on job because freight forwarders often handle the shipments at some point during transit. While actually handling the freight is more of a responsibility of the dock and warehouse workers, some freight forwarders unload, organise and reload their own shipments. The movement of freight has become a time-sensitive operation because many companies have reduced the amount of space and money they spend on warehousing. Freight forwarding duties can range from contacting potential shippers through every stage of the transit process to include such jobs as loading, unloading, packing and temporary storage.

Management of Paperwork

The paperwork and regulations involved in the movement of freight internationally can be complex and time consuming. Freight forwarders must be certain all required documents are prepared correctly to adhere to international laws. Freight forwarders must have a through understanding of global trade, finance and economics so they can provide the best services to their customers. And they must follow proper policies and procedures for all cargo manifests, bills of lading, insurance and customs.

Specialised Areas

Some freight forwarders specialise in certain modes of transportation and contract additional services out to other freight forwarders or brokers. For instance, some forwarders work only with freight shipped by air, others specialise in rail shipments, others work only with oceangoing vessels, while a select few deal with shipments over inland waterways. Another specialised area is the shipment of inter-coastal freight between ports for forwarding to inland destinations.

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