Becoming a Freight Broker in Pennsylvania
Freight brokers are the vital link between shippers and carriers, tracking freight from pickup to final destination. As experts in shipping regulations and procedures, they’re responsible for negotiating both shipping rates and delivery times. Freight brokers in Pennsylvania build carrier relationships, find capacity, price shipments to secure orders and monitor loads from pickup through to delivery. As logistics experts, those willing to learn and use evolving technology will thrive on the problem-solving aspects of the freight broker role.
Requirements for Becoming a Freight Broker in Pennsylvania
There are no formal state or federal educational or training requirements for freight brokers in Pennsylvania. Most employers, however, look for at least a high school education or equivalent, and some prefer an undergraduate degree. Those interested in becoming freight brokers would also benefit from studying logistics and supply chain management on either a formal or informal basis.
Freight brokers are federally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Becoming a Licensed Freight Broker
You can work as a freight broker for an established firm or start your own licensed freight brokerage. If you decide to become an entrepreneur, you’ll need to:
- Decide what kind of company you want to establish: sole proprietorship (individual owner), partnership or corporation.
- Acquire your motor carrier number by completing a FMCSA OP-1 form and choose whether to apply for a license as a Broker of Household Goods or Broker of Property (except Household Goods). If you apply online, your license will be granted immediately. Mail-in applications take about four weeks to process.
- Apply for a surety bond or BMC-84. Freight brokers have been required to have surety bonds in the amount of $75,000 since late 2013. Credit information will be required to obtain a surety bond, which is subject to underwriting.
- Once you’ve obtained your license, you’ll need to select a process agent, who will act as your representative if proceedings are brought against your company. You’ll need a process agent in every state in which you have an office or write a contract. You can use multiple agents or get blanket coverage. You’ll also have to fill out a BOC-3 and submit it to the FMCSA. And you’ll need both cargo and licensing insurance.
- The last step in becoming an independent freight broker is to register as part of the Unified Carrier Registration Plan. This plan governs freight brokers’ financial responsibilities and rules and regulations including state fee requirements.
Freight Broker Training Available to Pennsylvanians
There are some in-person classes in other states, but in Pennsylvania you might want to take an online course instead. Options include the following:
- Freight Brokers provides a range of online courses from brokerage basics to deluxe, including a course on improving sales for established brokers. The training includes an overview of freight brokering from start to finish, basics of everyday operations, prospecting, sales, marketing, rating and negotiations and shipment management. Students will have access to valuable industry resources and learn from experienced, professional freight brokers in 30-minute modules. All courses above the $99 level provide a hard-cover textbook, and the $449 through $749 modules supply a transportation directory with more than 550,000 prospects.
- Freight Movers School offers 16 hours of online instructional videos for $900. The school also guarantees agent placement for those who want to start out working as freight agents with brokerages. There are also free e-book resources and a monthly newsletter for those contemplating becoming freight brokers.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania has 2,800 freight brokers working throughout the state, who earn an average of just under $50,000 per year (approximately $23.59/hour).
The increase in 2013 from $10,000 to $75,000 in the amount of surety bond required has shaken up the industry somewhat and provided unexpected opportunities for new entrants in the field, since not all industry veterans were able to meet the requirements for the larger bond.
Projected annual growth rate for employment in the field is 7 percent in Pennsylvania.
Working as a Freight Broker in Pennsylvania
PNG, Landis Express and JB Hunt are all good employment prospects for Pennsylvania freight brokers, while the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia provide the most job opportunities. PLS Logistics, based in Pittsburgh’s Cranberry Township suburb and founded in 1991, ships more than one million loads annually via every possible means, from flatbed to barge. And of course you can always choose to start your own freight brokerage business.