What type of education is needed in order to be a freight forwarder?
FOX Brasil Tips for Freight Forwarders
Before we go deeper into the requirements for becoming a freight forwarder, we need to understand what exactly a freight forwarder is and what is expected from this professional.
In a nutshell, a freight forwarder is an agent who handles the movement of cargo from one point to another on behalf of the actual owner. They are a vital part of the supply chain that keeps the world running.
Once they’re hired, they become responsible for choosing and planning the most suitable way of transportation for the specific cargo and keeping track of the goods while they travel to their destination. They also need to report the updates of the freight to their clients, provide quotes, organize payments, transactions, the necessary documentation, and the legal requirements of the involved countries to make sure that the whole process of transportation occurs successfully.
But what do I need?
In terms of education, theoretically, it’s not mandatory for someone who wants to become a freight forwarder to have any kind of degree, as much having one is still valued, this is an area that doesn’t require formal licenses and values experience more than everything else.
However, a freight forwarder absolutely needs to have an understanding of geography, foreign cultures, international politics, importation and exportation costs, as well as being aware of all of the legal requirements and the mandatory documents. All of this information depends on what is being transported, how is being transported, and the origin and destination of the cargo.
As for soft skills, a freight forwarder needs to be a problem solver, a team worker, and a communicative and organized person. The cargo owner relies totally on this professional, so, of course, they can’t have any doubts about what they’re doing.
And what should I study?
There’s an International Freight Forwarder course that is available in different countries. This is made for both people who are new to the field and want to gather the necessary knowledge to get started as a professional and for people who have previous experience but want to improve or expand what they already know. The course usually lasts between 4 and 6 months and can be done completely online. There’s also an advanced version of it, where experienced individuals can acquire skills beyond what the basic course offers.
Since transportation is an area that involves many others, there are different higher degrees that can provide precious knowledge for someone who wants to be a freight forwarder. One example is International Relations, a course that introduces the students to the world of politics, human rights, climate change, global ethics, covering some areas of geography and the effects of globalization, offering a more social-focused approach, while the International Trade, or business, degree, as much as it also covers these subjects, it relies more on the economical view of the relationships between the countries and provides the student with the capacity of dealing with business from an international perspective.
Do I really need to speak another language?
Communication is a vital part of being a freight forwarder, they need to be able to speak effectively and clearly with their clients and also with their services providers, so we can consider speaking at least a second language an actual requirement in case you want to work with exportation and importation.
The choice of what language to learn depends on what are your goals as a freight forwarder, many of these professionals choose to learn English, since it is the most used language in global communication, but another good idea is to focus on learning the language of your targeted clients or even the language spoken at the countries that are nearest to yours, making negotiations with them happen a lot easier.