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Cargo Agent vs. Ramp Agent: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in the aviation industry, you may be wondering what the difference is between a cargo agent and a ramp agent. Both positions are important in ensuring that flights take off and land safely and on time, but they have different responsibilities. In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties of cargo agents and ramp agents, and we provide information on the education and training required for each position.

What is a Cargo Agent?

Cargo Agents work in the freight and logistics industry to coordinate the shipping of goods and materials. They are responsible for ensuring that cargo is properly loaded and secured onto vehicles and vessels according to shipping regulations. Cargo Agents track shipments using computer systems and update shipping records with any changes in transit. They may also contact customers to provide updates on the status of their shipments. Cargo Agents typically work for freight companies, logistics companies or shipping ports.

What is a Ramp Agent?

Ramp Agents are responsible for loading and unloading baggage and cargo from aircraft. They work on the ground at airports and must be able to lift heavy objects, sometimes up to 70 pounds. They use various types of machinery to move baggage and cargo, including tugs, belt loaders and conveyor belts. They must follow all safety procedures to avoid injuries. Ramp Agents also perform visual inspections of baggage and cargo to ensure that it meets all airline regulations. They may also need to assist passengers with questions or concerns about their travel.

Cargo Agent vs. Ramp Agent

Here are the main differences between a cargo agent and a ramp agent.

Job Duties

Cargo agents and ramp agents share some duties, like loading and unloading cargo onto and off of planes. However, ramp agents also perform duties related to the maintenance and operation of aircraft. This can include things like operating hydraulic systems that help move airplanes along the runway and prepare them for takeoff, as well as troubleshooting minor mechanical issues with an airplane.

Cargo agents typically do not perform duties related to the maintenance or operation of aircraft. Instead, they focus on ensuring that each shipment arrives safely at its destination. To do this, they may perform security screenings of both cargo and passengers. They may also monitor surveillance footage to ensure that no unauthorized individuals enter restricted areas.

Job Requirements

Cargo agents and ramp agents typically need a high school diploma or equivalent for most entry-level positions. However, some employers may prefer candidates who have completed a postsecondary training program in aviation or a related field. Additionally, cargo agents and ramp agents must be able to obtain a security clearance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To do this, they must pass a background check that includes a review of their criminal history and financial records.

Work Environment

Cargo agents typically work in an office environment, where they may spend their days completing paperwork and communicating with clients. They also travel to airports to meet planes as they arrive and ensure that cargo is unloaded safely. Ramp agents usually work outdoors on the tarmac or at the gate, where they monitor incoming flights and direct passengers to their destinations.


Both cargo agents and ramp agents need to have excellent communication skills. They often work with customers who may be frustrated or angry, so being able to diffuse tense situations is important. They also need to be able to understand customer needs and relay that information to other members of the team.

Cargo agents need to have strong organizational skills as they are responsible for keeping track of all the shipments coming in and out of the airport. This includes knowing where each shipment is supposed to go and making sure it gets loaded onto the correct plane. Ramp agents need to have good coordination skills as they are responsible for loading and unloading luggage and cargo onto planes. This can be a time-sensitive process, so ramp agents need to be able to work quickly and efficiently.


Cargo agents earn an average salary of $39,541 per year, while ramp agents earn an average salary of $36,046 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the employee has.


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