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 and knowledge, and even reputation if you are operating independently. To this end, it is recommended that you have some business and marketing knowledge before starting an independent brokerage business.

The average annual wage of a freight broker in Illinois as of May 2017 was $40,910, with an average hourly rate of $19.67. Some freight brokers with more experience make more than double this amount.

There are currently about 5,500 freight brokers working in the state of Illinois, and this number is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next eight years. There are currently about 520 job openings annually, and the job outlook is expected to remain positive.

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.