Career Development

What Does a Cargo Agent Do?

Find out what a cargo agent does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a cargo agent.

Cargo agents are responsible for the movement of goods and other materials between locations. They work with a variety of companies, from small-scale shipping operations to large multinational corporations.

Cargo agents may be tasked with handling a wide range of responsibilities related to their job. This may include booking flights or other transportation services, tracking cargo as it moves through various stages of transit, and ensuring that all paperwork is properly filed and completed.

Cargo Agent Job Duties

Cargo agents have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Reporting shipping delays or problems to superiors and taking action to ensure that shipments are delivered on time
  • Monitoring weather conditions to ensure safe travel for cargo ships, planes, trucks, or other vehicles carrying freight
  • Inspecting cargo for damage such as scratches or stains
  • Coordinating with customs officials in other countries to comply with import and export laws
  • Preparing paperwork such as bills of lading, customs declarations, insurance forms, and other documents required by shipping companies or government agencies
  • Arranging for transportation of cargo via plane, boat, train, truck, or other means
  • Coordinating with customs brokers and other agents to arrange shipments
  • Communicating with clients to obtain information about their cargo needs and schedules
  • Evaluating insurance coverage requirements based on cargo type and destination

Cargo Agent Salary & Outlook

Cargo agents’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $41,500 ($19.95/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

The employment of cargo agents is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

As e-commerce continues to grow, more goods will be shipped by truck and by air. Cargo agents will be needed to organize and track shipments as they move through airports and across the country.

Related: Cargo Agent Interview Questions and Answers

Cargo Agent Job Requirements

Cargo agents typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Cargo agents are typically required to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Some employers may require cargo agents to have a bachelor’s degree in logistics, transportation or a related field.

Training & Experience: Most cargo agents receive on-the-job training. This training may last for a few weeks or a few months, depending on the company and the agent’s experience. During training, a cargo agent will learn about the company’s policies and procedures, including how to use the computer system and how to handle and track shipments. They will also learn about the company’s clients and how to handle different situations.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not required for a cargo agent role, they can be useful for those looking to increase their earning potential or make themselves more competitive when applying to jobs.

Cargo Agent Skills

Cargo agents need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Cargo agents communicate with customers, coworkers and supervisors on a daily basis. They use verbal and written communication skills to complete paperwork, read and interpret documents and communicate with other employees. Cargo agents also use communication skills to resolve customer issues and answer questions.

Attention to detail: Cargo agents need to be able to notice small details in order to accurately record and sort shipments. Attention to detail can also help you notice if a shipment is damaged or if a shipment is missing. This can help you alert the right personnel and prevent delays in the delivery process.

Problem-solving skills: Cargo agents need problem-solving skills to handle unexpected situations. They may need to find solutions to issues with shipments, such as finding the correct address for a package or locating a missing shipment. They may also need to find solutions to issues with paperwork, such as finding the correct forms or completing forms correctly.

Physical stamina: Physical stamina refers to the ability to sustain prolonged periods of physical activity. Cargo agents often lift and move heavy boxes and pallets of goods. Physical stamina can help you complete your work duties efficiently and reduce the risk of injury.

Computer literacy: Cargo agents use computers to enter data, track shipments and monitor shipments. They also use computers to communicate with customers and other employees. It’s important for cargo agents to be comfortable using computers and software.

Cargo Agent Work Environment

Cargo agents work in airport cargo facilities and warehouses. They are responsible for loading and unloading cargo from aircraft and trucks, and for sorting, labeling, and shipping cargo. They also keep records of all cargo shipments. Cargo agents typically work the day shift, but they may be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. They may also be on call to work overtime when needed. The work can be physically demanding, and cargo agents must be able to lift heavy objects and work in a fast-paced environment.

Cargo Agent Trends

Here are three trends influencing how cargo agents work. Cargo agents will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of e-Commerce

The growth of e-commerce is a trend that is having a major impact on the shipping industry. As more and more people shop online, the demand for cargo agents will continue to grow.

Cargo agents are essential to the e-commerce industry because they are responsible for picking up and delivering packages. By understanding how this trend is changing the shipping industry, cargo agents can better prepare themselves for the future.

More Focus on Customer Service

As businesses focus more on customer service, cargo agents will need to be prepared to provide excellent service.

This means that cargo agents will need to be able to handle a wide range of tasks, from answering questions to resolving problems. They will also need to be comfortable with technology, as many businesses are now using software to help manage their shipments.

Greater Use of Technology in Shipping

The use of technology in shipping is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. This is due to the fact that it allows them to track and manage their shipments more easily.

As technology becomes more prevalent in shipping, cargo agents will need to learn how to use these tools in order to stay competitive. This includes learning how to use software such as ERP systems and tracking systems.

How to Become a Cargo Agent

A career as a cargo agent can be both rewarding and lucrative. It’s important to start off on the right foot by getting certified in shipping and logistics. This will show employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this field.

Once you’re certified, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and technologies. This can be done by reading trade journals and attending conferences. You should also build relationships with other professionals in the industry. This will help you learn from their experiences and get advice on how to advance your own career.

Advancement Prospects

There are many opportunities for advancement for cargo agents. With experience, cargo agents may be promoted to lead cargo agent, supervisor, or manager. Some may move into related occupations, such as customer service manager, operations manager, or transportation manager. Others may become independent consultants or start their own businesses.

Cargo Agent Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we move the world. As a cargo agent, you will be responsible for the coordination and handling of all incoming and outgoing shipments of freight and cargo. This includes tracking shipments, preparing documents, and ensuring that all shipments are properly loaded and unloaded. You will also be responsible for communicating with customers, carriers, and other company personnel to ensure that all shipments are delivered on time and without incident. In this role, you will be the face of [CompanyX] to our customers, so excellent customer service skills are a must.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Unload, load, and move freight, stock, or other materials to and from storage areas, trucks, containers, trailers, and ships
  • Weigh and measure goods to verify information against invoices, orders, or other documents
  • Examine contents and compare with records, such as manifests, invoices, or orders, to verify accuracy of incoming or outgoing shipment
  • Affix identifying tags or labels to cargo or mark information on cases, bales, or containers
  • Record numbers of units handled and moved, using daily production sheets or work tickets
  • Confer with customers, vendors, staff members, or others to discuss information related to shipments
  • Prepare documents, such as work orders, bills of lading, shipping orders, and weight certificates, to route materials
  • Operate hand trucks, forklifts, hoists, conveyors, or other equipment to move material to and from aircraft, trucks, or ships
  • Contact carrier representatives to make arrangements and to issue instructions for loading, unloading, and transportation of goods
  • Pack, seal, label, or affix postage to prepare materials for shipping, using hand tools, power tools, postage meter, or addressing machine
  • Arrange appropriate transportation of products, commodities, or materials to designated locations or customers
  • Keep warehouse clean and free of debris and hazardous materials

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Valid driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds unassisted
  • Forklift certification
  • Basic math skills
  • Excellent communication, customer service, and time-management skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher
  • 1+ year experience in warehouse or distribution
  • Experience operating a forklift
  • Certification in OSHA standards
  • Bilingual


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