How to Become a Freight Broker in Maryland – Get Your License
Freight Brokers are an integral part of the transportation industry. They work to connect shippers – who want to move their product – with carriers looking for loads to transport. The broker works with both parties to ensure that both sides get the best price and that the product makes it safely to its destination.
A broker should have excellent communication skills, manage multiple competing priorities, and feel confident negotiating prices. Your day will begin early and can be quite chaotic – but dull moments are rare, and you’ll build multiple connections along the way.
The day-to-day duties of a freight broker may look quite different depending on what you’re dealing with at any given time. However, you can expect to be performing most or all the following duties working as a freight broker.
- Sales and marketing to build a client base
- Negotiation rates and providing clients with quotes
- Researching reputable carriers to add to your roster
- Troubleshooting problems with quick turnaround times
- Overseeing all shipments from point A to point B
- Financial reconciliation, including issuing invoices and collecting payments
- Staying current on transportation trends
- Deal with permits, customs and legal requirements to move loads
There are no requirements in the state of Maryland for brokers to obtain formal post-secondary training. Yet, nationally all freight brokers must be high school graduates and are required to get a government-issued Broker Authority License.
Although formal training is not required, it is highly recommended. Many employers look for candidates who can come into the job needing a minimal amount of training. For those looking to open their own brokerage, training can be especially important in gaining the trust of your potential clients.
The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for overseeing the licensing of brokers. To obtain your license, you will need to register with the U.S Department of Transport and obtain a DOT number and Motor carrier number (MC). These numbers will be used to apply for your license with the FMCSA. To receive your broker license, you will need to be able to prove the following:
- Demonstrate that you have adequate insurance for cargo and general liability
- That you have a $75,000 surety bond
- That you have designated a freight agent in each state that you intend to conduct business
Applying for your license requires a $300 non-refundable deposit and takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks to process. Once you receive your license, you can begin working as a legal freight broker.
Studying in Maryland
Although there are no requirements for formal training to become a freight broker, due to the complex nature of the job, entering the industry with some formal training under your belt can be extremely beneficial. As mentioned previously many employers look for potential employees that have some understanding of how the transportation industry operates and how to operate within that industry.
For those interested in pursuing training as a freight broker, the following are a few of the options available in Maryland.
This is an online program offering a certificate and takes approximately six months to complete
- Ed2Go offers online training in conjunction with multiple colleges across Maryland. The program can be completed at your own pace within a 6-month timeframe
- Udemy is an online resource that offers multiple programs to prepare students for a career as a freight broker
Certification is not required to operate in Maryland, but for those wishing to advance their career and really stand out in the industry, becoming a Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) through the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is an intelligent choice.
Candidates must complete the CTB program and pass an exam to become certified. The course takes approximately 60 – 180 hours to complete and costs $800 for non-members and $675 for members. Once the course has been completed, candidates must pass an exam that costs $525 for non-members and $375 for members. The exam is separated into three components that can be completed all at once or separately, as long as all three segments are completed within three exam cycles.
Membership with the TIA is not required to become certified, but the cost savings, as well as the network of resources, can give a new broker a considerable leg up on the competition.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), freight brokers across the U.S make an average of $43,770 per year, which works out to about $21.04 per hour.
Career prospects for brokers are quite bright, with an expected rise of 10 percent from 2020 – 2030. That amount is higher than the national average for other occupations, which is not surprising as more goods are being shipped locally and beyond.
Working in Maryland
Large urban centers are generally the best places to consider when looking for work in the transportation industry since large shipping hubs and manufacturing centers will offer the most opportunity for new brokers.
While Baltimore is not the capital of Maryland, it is by far the largest and well known for its many waterways and historical seaport. The next two most sizable cities to consider when looking for work would be Columbia and Germantown.