How to Become a Freight Broker in Illinois

In most U.S. states, freight brokers are in demand and with over 5,000 freight brokers currently employed in the region, Illinois is no exception.

Freight brokers are responsible for moving freight and coordinating between suppliers and carriers. They are often in charge of establishing and negotiating rates, freight law compliance and delivery timeframes. Freight brokers are responsible for connecting businesses to suppliers and keeping careful records of all shipping and delivery information.

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The most important aspect of a freight broker’s job is the legal element. Much of their training revolves around becoming deeply familiar with federal regulations and procedures, primarily with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations 49 CFT 371.

Freight brokers are not freight drivers, and they don’t employ drivers. Though they often operate independently, they may employ freight agents to assist them. Freight agents perform a similar set of tasks as freight brokers and may work alongside them; however, agents are not licensed or bonded.

Requirements for Becoming a Freight Broker in Illinois

To become a freight broker in Illinois, you must have completed your high school education or equivalent as well as specialized training, which falls under the general heading of Certified Transportation Broker. You must also obtain a federally recognized license and certification. Since this is a job that follows a set of federal laws, there are no training standards specific to the state of Illinois.

Freight Broker Classes and Educational Programs in Illinois

To become a certified freight broker in Illinois, you first need to be trained in a specialized program. Various training courses operate across the U.S., and many offer online training options.

The following two institutions offer freight broker training:

  • Brooke Training Solutions offers five-day transportation courses in various states across the country. Brooke Training teaches the fundamentals of brokering and offers marketing and sales training as well. Courses are designed for those who want to work independently or with established agencies and are delivered in-class and online via video.
  • Freight Movers School has a few online, self-paced freight broker courses, which will get you headed in the right direction. However, you may need to attend their in-person courses to get more in-depth training.

Certification (or Licensing) for Becoming a Freight Broker in Illinois

All certified freight brokers must obtain an official license via the FMCSA and a broker authority license. This certification is also known as a Motor Carrier Operating Authority (MC authority). Once you have completed your training and the application is approved, you will receive your motor carrier (MC) number via mail. This number verifies that you are officially a Motor Carrier Operating Authority (MC authority), but you still must wait 10 days for final approval.

It’s important to also note that brokers must be bonded and insured and be prepared to pay the licensing fees. The initial license fee is $300.

You can find the freight broker license application and security bond and trust agreements on the Illinois Commerce Commission website.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Illinois

Freight broker salaries can vary greatly depending on industry experience, knowledge, and reputation, especially for those operating independently. Business and marketing knowledge is beneficial for starting an independent brokerage business.

As of the latest data, the average annual wage of a freight broker in Illinois is $49,490, with an average hourly rate higher than previously reported. Experienced freight brokers in Illinois can earn significantly more, with the top 10% earning $72,790 or more annually.

The number of freight brokers in Illinois is also showing positive growth. The following HTML tables provide a detailed comparison of salaries at different percentiles both nationally and in Illinois, as well as in specific regions within Illinois.

National vs. Illinois Salaries:

Percentile United States Salary Illinois Salary
10% $32,720 $38,700
25% $38,400 $44,890
Median (50%) $46,860 $49,490
75% $58,710 $61,370
90% $70,280 $72,790

Salaries by Region in Illinois:

Location 10% 25% Median (50%) 75% 90%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI $38,910 $46,470 $49,640 $61,830 $73,460

Freight Broker Trends in Illinois

The employment trends for Cargo and Freight Agents in Illinois (43-5011.00) indicate a significant growth trajectory for the decade from 2020 to 2030. In 2020, Illinois had 7,030 employees working in this occupation. This number is projected to increase to 8,760 employees by 2030, representing a growth rate of 25%. Additionally, there are expected to be around 940 job openings annually over this period, which includes openings due to both growth and replacement. This trend suggests a robust job market for cargo and freight agents in Illinois, surpassing the national average growth rate.

In comparison, the national trend for the same period shows a growth rate of 10%, which is considered much faster than average. In 2022, there were 95,900 employees in this occupation across the United States, with projections indicating an increase to 105,200 employees by 2032. Nationally, there are expected to be about 11,000 job openings annually over this period.

Employment Trends

Location Employment (2020) Projected Employment (2030) Projected Growth (2020-2030) Projected Annual Job Openings (2020-2030)
Illinois 7,030 employees 8,760 employees 25% 940
United States 95,900 employees (2022) 105,200 employees (2032) 10% (Much faster than average) 11,000

Sources of Data:

Illinois Data: The employment figures and projections for Illinois are sourced from Projections Central, specifically their 2020-2030 long-term projections. Projections Central is known for providing detailed and state-specific employment projections, offering valuable insights into various occupational trends.

United States Data: The national employment figures and projections are obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), specifically their 2022-2032 employment projections.

Working as a Freight Broker in Illinois

When working independently, freight brokers essentially act as independent dispatchers, which can be a high-value business if you market yourself well, are trustworthy and have a thorough understanding of the industry. Those looking to get more experience in the industry but aren’t yet licensed may gain experience working under a broker as a freight agent.

Most people who have this job work from home, which means that startup overhead costs are relatively low—you only have to invest in basic home office equipment. However, there are extra costs involved when it comes to bonding and insurance. You need to register with FMSCA as well as have financial liability coverage in order to qualify.

If you’re interested in a dynamic, work-from-home position that is guaranteed to be in demand for years to come, and you can qualify for appropriate liability funding, you can get your freight brokerage license in a matter of weeks or months.