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How to become a Freight Forwarder

freight forwarder careers

What does a Freight Forwarder do?

Freight forwarders, also known as export, import or shipping clerks, deal with arranging the movement of goods. It is their job to find the most appropriate and cost-effective way of moving goods between countries, and co-ordinate the arrangements.

Freight forwarders speak with carriers, such as road, rail, air and sea companies, and confirm transport arrangements. They also liaise with clients, advising them on the costs of transporting goods and the arrangements that have been made.

When working on behalf of an importer, it may be necessary to clear goods through customs, arrange the payment of duties and taxes, and organise the delivery of goods to the importer’s premises.

Other duties include:

  • selecting safe routes and carriers (road, rail, sea and air)
  • booking transport cargo space
  • dealing with transport rates, insurance and schedules
  • making calculations by weight, volume and cost
  • using a computer to input freight details and routes
  • preparing quotations and invoices
  • preparing contracts such as Bills of Lading and Letters of Credit
  • communicating with carriers and clients by letter, phone, fax and email.

What's the working environment like working as a Freight Forwarder?

Freight forwarders normally work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday, and may have to work Saturdays on a rota. Some companies operate shift patterns and out-of-hours work.

Freight forwarders usually work in offices but some travel may be necessary.

What does it take to become a Freight Forwarder?

To be a freight forwarder, you should:

  • have good spoken and written communication skills
  • have good numeracy skills
  • be accurate and pay attention to detail
  • have basic computer skills
  • be able to prioritise your work
  • be diplomatic
  • have an interest in geography.
For some jobs it may be necessary to speak a foreign language or hold a driving licence.

Freight Forwarder Career Opportunities

More than 2,000 companies operate as freight forwarders in the UK. These include local, national and international freight forwarding companies, as well as major retail companies, manufacturers, warehousing and distribution firms, and the armed forces.

There may be opportunities for experienced staff to work overseas on a temporary or permanent basis.

It is possible, with training and experience, to advance to a supervisory or management job.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Freight Forwarder that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Skills for Logistics
14 Warren Yard
Warren Farm Office Village
Stratford Road
Milton Keynes
MK12 5NW
Tel: 0870 242 7314

Careers in Logistics

British International Freight Association (BIFA)
Education and Training Services
Redfern House
Browells Lane
TW13 7EP
Tel: 020 8844 2266

Institute of Export
Export House
Minerva Business Park
Lynch Wood
Tel: 01733 404400

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK)
Logistics and Transport Centre
Earlstrees Court
Earlstrees Road
NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740100

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Courses to help you become a Freight Forwarder