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How do I Become an Air Freight Forwarder?

By T. L. Childree
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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In order to become an air freight forwarder, you will usually need to have at least a basic understanding of client relations and customer care in the air freight forwarding industry. You will need to be trained in the use of computer software systems that are used for international and domestic air logistics. In addition to these skills, some type of higher education such as a bachelor’s degree may be needed. In some instances, a sufficient amount of previous work experience in the air freight forwarding field may be accepted in place of a college degree.

To succeed in this field, you will likely need to possess certain personal qualities in addition to work experience and educational training. You may frequently need to deal with clients from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Complaints from anxious or angry customers must also be dealt with in a professional manner. These duties will likely require you to have a certain amount of patience and the ability to maintain your composure in stressful situations. For this reason, having some form of previous customer care experience before you become an air freight forwarder is often recommended.

To become an air freight forwarder, you will likely need to have excellent computer skills in commonly used software as well as certain types of software specific to the air freight forwarding industry. In addition to data entry and customer care skills, it is often advantageous to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management prior to entering this type of business. It may also be possible for you to become an air freight forwarder by simply beginning with an entry-level position and working your way up from there. As a general rule, the air freight forwarding industry is receptive to this type of on-the-job training.

The manufacturing and retail industries often rely heavily upon air freight forwarders to ensure that shipped products are delivered to international customers safely and on time. Since the process of international shipping is often quite complicated, many manufacturers turn to an air freight forwarding company for its expertise in this field. If you become an air freight forwarder, you will need to have a good understanding of the various rules and regulations governing international transport. You must also be knowledgeable about international customs requirements as well as taxes, tariffs, and other fees.

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Discussion Comments

By sunshine31 — On Aug 09, 2011

@Sneakers41 - I also think that joining trade organizations and attending international trade seminars allows a person to network with others in the industry and possibly obtain a few job leads along the way.

Cities that have large ports like Miami, Norfolk, Long Beach, and New York City offer the lion share of job opportunities in this field. You can also work for a logistics provider or a transportation company, but many companies are starting to have in house logistics departments that handle air freight forwarding.

I have a friend that was recruited by one of these companies so I know that they also hire people with freight forwarding experience.

By sneakers41 — On Aug 09, 2011

I just wanted to say that my husband works as a Vice President of Customs Compliance for an international logistics company. He started his career in air freight forwarding and attributed his success to obtaining a CHB license or a customs house brokerage license.

The field of freight forwarding involves complicated regulations and having a license helps to distinguish you from the rest of the pack. This is a really stressful field because a lot of times things can go wrong that are outside of your control, but your client does not care because they need their goods shipped within a certain timeframe.

Sometimes there are delays with Customs or there is problem with the paperwork that was filed with the goods that needed to be transported. Filing incorrect documents or missing paperwork can not only delay the shipment but it can also cause Customs to impose additional fines on the client. This is really a job for people that can work well under pressure and are detailed oriented.

The job can be exciting, but it is not for everyone.

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