How to Become a Freight Broker in Tennessee

Freight brokers organize transportation for shipments, negotiate prices for shipping services and inform clients of each shipment’s progress. They can oversee freight agents, who work as independent contractors and are responsible for handling sales and finding carriers for shipments. Unlike agents, brokers must have insurance and certifications.

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This career is a fast-paced one that still allows for flexible schedules and working environments, making it a great choice for people who want more control over their day-to-day work.

Requirements for Becoming a Freight Broker in Tennessee

Brokers in Tennessee must meet the federal requirements for becoming licensed brokers. They need to have a high school diploma or equivalent as well as cargo insurance, general liability insurance and a $75,000 surety bond. Brokers must also apply for a federal license.

There are no additional certifications needed to operate as a freight broker in Tennessee. Some brokers may choose to enroll in a training program to help them better understand the skills they need to be successful, though no formal training is required to begin working.

Tennessee Schools for Freight Brokers

Training programs are available to help brokers learn about the trucking industry, gain marketing and sales skills and receive job placement help. Here are two programs available in Tennessee:

  • Nashville State Community College. Nashville State’s online program is offered in conjunction with Brooke Training. Graduates have the opportunity to continue their education with Resource Fridays, a weekly online event designed to help answer questions and find jobs.
  • Taltoa. Taltoa ffers an affordable online self-study course, along with several options for instructor-led training. The school also offers consulting calls to help new freight brokers with any concerns that arise while they set up their own businesses.

Certifications for Becoming a Freight Broker in Tennessee

To begin the process of becoming a freight broker, applicants should first register the name of their business and get a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number. Then, they can use this information to apply for a license from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Applicants must also pay a $300 application fee. If their paperwork is approved, they will receive their freight brokers license.

While no formal testing is required to become a freight broker in Tennessee, brokers can 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 skills.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The freight brokerage industry in Tennessee, as part of the broader freight transportation sector, is showing positive trends in terms of salaries. According to the latest data, the salary figures for cargo and freight agents have been updated from previous years.

As of 2022, cargo and freight agents in Tennessee earn an average salary of $39,680 per year. The top 10 percent of earners in Tennessee make more than $60,260 per year. In comparison, cargo and freight agents in the United States earn an average salary of $46,860 per year, with the top 10 percent earning more than $70,280 annually.

National vs. Tennessee Salaries:

Percentile United States Salary Tennessee Salary
10% $32,720 $37,120
25% $38,400 $38,680
Median (50%) $46,860 $39,680
75% $58,710 $48,300
90% $70,280 $60,260

Salaries by Region in Tennessee:

Location 10% 25% Median (50%) 75% 90%
Chattanooga, TN-GA $36,240 $37,670 $37,670 $46,320 $57,310
Knoxville, TN $23,010 $31,680 $37,920 $47,040 $58,580
Memphis, TN-MS-AR $38,320 $38,680 $38,680 $47,430 $58,850
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN $39,040 $39,630 $39,680 $48,730 $60,560

Freight Broker Trends in Tennessee

The employment trends for Cargo and Freight Agents in Tennessee (43-5011.00) indicate a significant growth pattern for the decade from 2020 to 2030. In 2020, Tennessee had 1,690 employees working in this occupation. This number is projected to increase to 2,130 employees by 2030, representing a substantial growth rate of 26%. Additionally, there are expected to be around 230 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 Tennessee, significantly outpacing 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)
Tennessee 1,690 employees 2,130 employees 26% 230
United States 95,900 employees (2022) 105,200 employees (2032) 10% (Much faster than average) 11,000

Sources of Data:

Tennessee Data: The employment figures and projections for Tennessee 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 Tennessee

Freight brokers have two options for their working environment once they receive their licenses. Some may choose to start their own businesses. This is ideal for those who are ready for an entrepreneurial challenge and want the most flexibility over their projects and schedules.

Others may choose to join an existing brokerage. This allows brokers to focus solely on negotiations and client communication, rather than on marketing and other tasks related to owning a business. Working in an established office also provides more stability. Brokerage firms in larger cities, such as Nashville, typically offer the highest salaries.

Both options provide new brokers with an engaging and ever-changing career that presents them with new challenges each day, plenty of small projects and a sense of accomplishment.