How to Become a Freight Broker in Michigan – Get Your License

Freight brokering is an excellent career for self-motivated and hard-working individuals. If you like to organize details, are good at communicating with people, and want a self-directed job, consider becoming a freight broker. You’ll need to learn how the industry works and get a license before you can dive into this career in Michigan.

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What Do Freight Brokers in Michigan Do?

A freight broker connects people and companies needing to ship goods with carriers, transportation companies or individuals. They manage all process steps to ensure it runs smoothly and communicate on behalf of the shipper and carrier.

Freight brokers are often entrepreneurs, working as individuals or starting brokerages. Some of the typical duties you can expect in this job include:

  • Taking orders from shippers, including details and special requests
  • Keeping details on carriers and their areas of expertise
  • Matching shippers with appropriate carriers to match special requests and budgets
  • Negotiating prices for the job
  • Organizing the details of a shipment, from pickup to drop off
  • Monitoring each transport to make sure it goes well
  • Communicating with clients about the status of their shipment
  • Finding cargo to fill empty spaces for carriers
  • Billing and taking payments

To be successful as a freight broker, you must be organized, detail-oriented, a good problem-solver, and a good communicator.

Licensing Requirements for Freight Brokers

Michigan does not license freight brokers, but you must meet federal requirements to work in this capacity. There are no educational requirements, but you need a license from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These are the minimum steps you need to take to work as a freight broker:

  1. Apply to the FMCSA for a U.S. Department of Transportation number.
  2. Get a Surety Bond or Trust Fund Agreement for a minimum of $75,000 as proof of insurance.
  3. Complete the FMCSA form BOC-3 to designate a process agent. You can designate yourself or someone else as the process agent for your business.
  4. Pay the $300 fee to the FMCSA for the license and wait four to six weeks.

You may also want to decide on a legal framework for your business. An LLC, or limited liability corporation, is a popular choice. Also, consider becoming a Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) through the Transportation Intermediaries Association. This is a widely-recognized credential that many clients may look for when hiring brokers.

Training Programs in Michigan

Although licensing does not include an education requirement, it’s a good idea to complete a training program before embarking on this career. There is a lot to learn about working with carriers and clients. There are a few options in Michigan:

  • Monroe Community College. This online program is 180 course hours and gives you all the skills you need to get started in the industry.
  • Mott Community College. In Flint, Mott offers a transportation, distribution and logistics technology certificate, an excellent place to start in freight brokerage.

Career Outlook and Salaries for Michigan Freight Brokers

Growth in this career is strong at 10% nationwide. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2020 employment at 95,600. Michigan’s employment for freight brokers in May 2020 was between 2,360 and 13,100.

Freight broker salaries vary widely depending on the individual and location. With your own business, you can take on as many clients as you choose, determining your total income. The national median salary in May 2020 was $43,770 per year. In Michigan, freight brokers make between $43,300 and $45,190 annually.

Working as a Freight Broker in Michigan

This career offers the option of working for yourself or joining an existing company as a broker. You can work anywhere, as most of the job is over the phone and online. If you choose employment with a brokerage, look for a position around Michigan’s biggest cities, especially Detroit and Grand Rapids.