How to become a Freight Forwarder. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Freight Forwarder do?
Freight forwarders organise the movement of goods around the UK and between countries.
As a freight forwarder, it would be your job to plan the most efficient ways of transporting goods by road, rail, air and sea. Your work would involve:
- arranging routes and schedules, and confirming the details with carriers
- booking cargo space with carriers
- negotiating rates
- arranging insurance
- calculating weight, volume and cost of goods to be moved
- recording details on a computer system
- preparing quotations and invoices
- clearing goods through customs and arranging for any duties or taxes to be paid
- preparing contracts such as Letters of Credit
- advising clients about the arrangements that have been made
- carrying out general administrative tasks such as filing.
You may also be known by other job titles such as traffic office clerk, or if your job involves importing and/or exporting goods overseas, you could be known as an import, export or shipping clerk.
In a full-time job you would work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You could work standard office hours, shifts, or flexible hours if you regularly deal with countries in different time zones. You would be office-based.
How much does a Freight Forwarder earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Salaries are typically between £15,000 and £25,000, depending on location and level of experience.
- Managers could earn £30,000 to £40,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will find it useful to have office experience, computer skills and foreign language skills. Some employers may ask for four GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths (or qualifications of a similar level), while others may prefer you to be qualified to A level standard or above.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
If you have a BTEC HND or degree, you may be able to join one of the larger employers through a graduate training scheme. You may have an advantage with one of the following subjects:
- transport and distribution management
- supply chain management
- business and management
- foreign languages with business studies.
Check with colleges or universities for exact course entry requirements.
Training and Development
You will be trained on the job by your employer. Your training may include the chance to take work-based qualifications such as:
- NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Traffic Office (usually offered as part of an Apprenticeship, available until December 2010)
- the new Level 2 Certificate in International Trade and Logistics Operations
- qualifications from professional bodies such as the British International Freight Association (BIFA), Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport or Institute of Export.
For more information about the Level 2 Certificate in International Trade and Logistics, contact the awarding bodies EDI plc and ABC Awards.
- EDI plc
- ABC Awards
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) offers BTEC-accredited Intermediate Awards in Customs Import and Export Procedures, and International Freight Procedures.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport offers:
- Level 2 Certificate in Logistics and Transport
- Level 3 Certificate in Logistics and Transport – for supervisors
- Level 5 Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport – for new managers, or recent graduates with non-business degrees.
- Certificate in International Trade (CIT) – an entry-level qualification
- Advanced Certificate in International Trade (ACIT) – you must be 18 or over with at least four GCSEs (A-C) including English plus one A level or equivalent, or at least 21 with three or more years’ work experience in international trade
- Diploma in International Trade (DIT) – you must have passed or have exemptions from the Advanced Certificate.
If you have a relevant NVQ at level 3 or 4, or a HND, degree or postgraduate qualification, these may count towards the ACIT qualification.
Skills and Knowledge
- good spoken and written communication skills
- good mathematical skills
- accuracy and attention to detail
- computer literacy
- organisational and planning skills
- tact and diplomacy
- an interest in geography.
You could work for local, national or international freight forwarding companies, major retailers, manufacturers or warehousing and distribution firms. With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager.
Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus, specialist recruitment agencies and trade magazines.
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