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How Do You Become a Transportation Broker?

Some of the top companies for transportation brokers boast annual salaries between $142,302 and $249,615. The potential salary alone is an intriguing reason as to why many people look into life as a transportation broker. 

While these numbers are impressive, you will not be able to earn this much money without putting in the work required to make it a profitable job. Becoming a transportation broker can be a successful path, especially considering the continued growth of ecommerce businesses and the continued need for reliable transportation. 

But what does it truly involve? What is a transportation broker really? And what exactly are your responsibilities as a broker? Keep reading to dive into the legalities and the responsibilities of transportation brokers so that you can be certain you’re looking into a career move that is right for you.

What Is a Transportation Broker?

A transportation broker, also known as a freight broker, is the person that connects a shipper and carrier. Transportation brokers communicate with both the shipper and carrier ensuring the transportation of cargo goes smoothly. 

How Does a Transportation Broker Operate?

With the continued growth of ecommerce businesses, the transportation of cargo is in constant demand. Whether a transportation broker is operating on their own or working for a company, their tasks remain the same. 

Their main duty is to ensure the cargo can always make it where it needs to go without issue. As the connection between shippers and carriers, they handle anything that might involve getting the freight from the shipper to the carrier. 

Why Do Businesses Use Transportation Brokers?

Because one main task a transportation broker has is to locate and select safe and cost-effective carriers for the shippers, many businesses will hire them to not only save money but to save their time and hassle as well. 

Transportation brokers can help alleviate the common stresses that may come with moving your cargo. 

Some of the greatest appeals they offer businesses are as follows: 

  • Saves you money on cargo transportation
  • Provides shipping estimates from a variety of carriers
  • Scheduling the transportation to the carrier 
  • Planning any transportation routes
  • Tracks and monitors shipments for you 
  • Utilizes the newest technology 
  • Alleviates the need for constant communication while cargo is in transit
  • Ensuring the carriers are always prepared for a shipment
  • Benefit from pre-established relationships with carriers already 
  • Can help you negotiate the best possible pricing
  • Work with reliable carriers 
  • Help you with issues that can occur while cargo is in transit 

While the transportation industry is ever growing, there are still headaches that can occur. Utilizing a transportation broker alleviates your need to have to deal with these and allows you to focus where you need. 

Finding these brokers isn’t necessarily the hard part. However, ensuring they are legitimate is a whole other story. 

How Much Money Do Transportation Brokers Make?

Transportation brokers will typically make their money from commissions. In general, these brokers will earn anywhere from 10% to 35% in commissions per shipment that they have helped to coordinate and oversee.  

Usually, commissions will fall within the higher range of 25% to 35% for the best brokers. While the average annual salary of a transportation broker is $65,582 according to Indeed, it truly depends on how much they work. In fact, some may earn a base salary upwards of $100,000. 

What Are the Steps To Becoming a Transportation Broker?

Since this industry is in such high demand, life as a transportation broker can be an appealing way to make a living. However, you should understand the factors involved in transportation brokerage before you dive into the industry. 

Research

Experience isn’t required to become a transportation broker, but it is absolutely recommended if you’re looking to succeed. If you’ve been in the transportation industry and have experience as an owner-operator or a dispatcher, you will have a much better understanding of how you’ll need to operate and what your customers expect. 

You will also be more likely to enter the industry successfully if you have dealt with logistics before. Doing your due diligence and thoroughly researching what the job involves will help ensure you can handle the tasks you’ll be responsible for. 

If you don’t have the experience, there are courses available that are typically affordable and offered online so you can gain insight the industry requires. It’s also important to know that you don’t have to jump out on your own immediately. 

There are transportation broker companies and with the right training, you can generally begin as an entry-level broker with them to gain that hands-on experience without solely leveraging yourself right away. 

Register Your Firm

When you are prepared and ready to start on your own as a transportation broker, you will need to create a business plan and register your business. With multiple options for registering, this is where research and a business plan really come in handy. 

Many brokers will register as an LLC or limited liability corporation, but you can also register as the sole proprietor or with a partner. An LLC is often ideal for transportation brokers as it reduces your risk for personal responsibility whereas as the sole proprietor or a partner, you are open to any potential financial liability. 

Licensing

Once you’ve decided how you will operate, you will need to contact the FMCSA in order to apply for and obtain your authority. Broker authority gives you the legal permission required to facilitate as well as carry out the responsibilities associated with transporting cargo throughout the country. 

The type of authority that you will require will depend on what you are facilitating transport for. The FMCSA differentiates authorities between property and household goods. 

Varying filing fees will apply to obtain these licenses but are generally a one time fee and you will not be permitted to operate without them. While insurance is not required by the FMCSA, in order to gain more customers that will hire you confidently, it is absolutely recommended to ensure both yourself and your customers are protected. 

Find Trucking Carriers

As a transportation broker, your main task is to connect shippers with carriers. This means you should have established relationships with carriers. 

This will help you get the best price and more quickly connect your shippers with them. Load boards have become a common assistant in the transportation industry. 

This online marketplace can easily connect you with the carriers you need, but you will still need to establish relationships with them and prove to them why you are worthy of being their connection for transportation. 

Posting a shipment need and searching for the appropriate carriers that can handle it may seem time consuming, but it will help you gain the carrier relationships this job will require for long term success. 

Acquire a Freight Broker Bond

This step can be daunting, but you aren’t always left alone so be sure you note the resources you have available before getting overwhelmed. The freight broker surety bond, commonly known as the BMC-84 bond or transportation broker bond, is another requirement by the FMCSA. 

This bond must be for $75,000. This is where the good news comes in, there are companies out there that will cover this bond for you for an annual percentage. 

You will typically pay between 1% and 12% of this bond annually, but this percentage will be determined by the company based on several factors including your credit history and record as well as financial strength. 

File Your BOC-3

Another legality required by the FMCSA is filing for and obtaining your BOC-3. This refers to a Blanket of Coverage and is a designation of an agent that is able to file any of the necessary legal documents. You must have this form to cover any state in which you plan to operate.

Develop a Business Plan

Starting any business, no matter the industry is a major undertaking. Developing your business plan should be one of your first steps so that you can ensure you’re taking every precaution necessary to do so properly. 

Setting goals, determining how you will build relationships with shippers and carriers, how you will finance your business, and more are all factors that you should consider when you’re looking to become a transportation broker. 

Is Becoming a Transportation Broker Worth It?

Experienced and determined transportation brokers can easily earn salaries within the six figure mark and that can be a major appeal. While the initial start up costs may be high, the potential for earnings can easily negate these costs when you take the proper steps and operate a legal, legitimate broker operation. 

The growth of your business will depend on you, so it pays to be motivated. Because software innovation only continues to grow, tools like load boards can help you find the customers you need to expand your business and help you gain the trust you require. 

If you’ve equipped yourself with the knowledge and experience and taken the legal steps necessary, becoming a transportation broker can absolutely be a smart move. 

The Demand Is There. Make a Plan and Execute.  

There is no shortage of demand in the transportation industry and as a transportation broker, you can earn great money without having to be on the road. While many former truckers see this as a great career path, it’s one that isn’t left just for drivers. 

The flexibility of transportation brokers can be ideal and this is a career that can allow you to be in control of yourself. If this is an industry you have been eyeing, equipping yourself is the best place to start. With the right knowledge and determination, you can soon earn yourself a great salary and reputation. 

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Whether it’s dry van, reefer, flatbed, lift-gate or any other service that you’re looking for, we have solutions to fit your specific needs.