How to Become a Freight Broker in California

Freight brokers enjoy a high level of flexibility in their schedules and a fast-paced environment thanks to the speed of sales and negotiations. In this job, people will spend their days organizing transportation for shipments, negotiating prices for shipping services and keeping their clients properly informed of each shipment’s progress. Brokers can also oversee freight agents, who work as independent contractors while conducting sales and finding carriers for shipments. There are distinct requirements that must be met to become a freight broker that do not apply to agents.

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Requirements for Becoming a Freight Broker in California

California freight brokers must meet the federal requirements for becoming a licensed broker. They should have a high school diploma or equivalent, and they must carry several types of insurance: cargo, general liability, state insurance and a $75,000 surety bond.

California-based freight brokers do not need any additional certifications to operate in the state. However, some brokers choose to enroll in training programs that can help them understand the industry and get assistance with job placement.

California Schools for Freight Brokers

Freight brokers who would like to brush up on their marketing skills or gain a deeper understanding of the freight and trucking industries should consider attending a formal training program. Here are two options within California:

  • California State University East Bay Veteran freight specialists wrote the curriculum for Cal State East Bay’s online course. They also teach the classes, which offer one-on-one instruction and cover a range of topics, from brokerage law to setting rates. The self-paced course typically takes between six moths and one year to complete.
  • Brooke Transportation Training and Services Students who prefer in-person classes can attend Brooke Transportation’s five-day programs in Ontario, California. The courses teach students how to run their own freight broker business, including how to get their license, how to market their business and other operations tasks. Instruction consists of lectures, videos and hands-on training.

Certifications for Becoming a Freight Broker in California

Prospective freight brokers must first register the name of their business and get a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number. This will allow them to obtain a license from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). To apply for a license, applicants must send in their DOT number and a $300 fee. Licenses are issued after all paperwork is approved.

Brokers are not required to take a formal exam in order to operate in California, but they may voluntarily take the Certified Transportation Brokers exam, which is administered by the Transportation Intermediaries Association, to gain a competitive edge and have formal proof of their abilities.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Freight brokers are currently seeing significant growth in the industry as more and more people are able to open small businesses and online shops, requiring transportation of more goods. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will grow by about 29 percent by 2020.

Nationally, freight broker salaries average $43,926 per year. California-based brokers can expect to make an average of $43,490, putting it on pace with national figures.

Working as a Freight Broker in California

Many freight brokers choose to start their own businesses after they receive their licenses. This option is ideal for those who enjoy having a high degree of control over how they conduct business and the challenge of starting a new project from the ground up.

Others decide to join an existing brokerage. Doing so provides an extra layer of stability and more regular routines for people who would prefer to focus just on brokering, rather than on marketing and operations. Brokerages in larger cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, typically offer higher salaries to match the higher cost of living in those locations.

Whichever option new brokers choose, they will be constantly engaged in the ever-changing world of sales and negotiation. The career is an excellent choice for people who want something new each day with plenty of small projects to work on all at once, making for an engaging and interesting job.