How to Become a Freight Broker in Montana – Get Your License
Freight brokers connect the vital parts of the transportation industry and facilitate shipments countrywide. They work with shippers who need to move their goods and carriers looking for loads to transport. Their role is to ensure that everyone is reasonably happy with the price and that loads get to their destination safely and legally.
A freight broker needs to be energized by a chaotic work environment, have excellent communication skills and be completely comfortable negotiating prices. Their workday starts early and can change moment by moment. As a freight broker, you can expect to be performing many of the following duties:
- Relationship building with shippers and carriers
- Researching potential carriers
- Negotiating rates and providing quotes
- Overseeing all shipments from departure to arrival
- Troubleshooting transportation problems
- Issuing invoices and collecting payments
- Processing permits for customs and legal requirements
- Staying up to date on transportation trends
A freight broker often has freight agents working for them. Some may start their careers as agents while building their experience and completing their freight broker requirements.
The state of Montana does not have any requirements for freight brokers to obtain any formal postsecondary training. Yet, they are required by national law to obtain a Broker Authority License, also known as a Motor Carrier Operating Authority license from the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The first step in obtaining your license is to register your company’s name and receive a Department of Transportation number (DOT). You will use this number to apply for your license. The application process costs $300 and takes approximately 4 – 6 weeks to process. To be successful, a candidate must also prove the following:
- Demonstrate that you have a $75,000 surety bond
- That you have adequate insurance for cargo and general liability
- That you have designated a freight agent in every state that you intend to conduct business
Studying in Montana
Although there are no laws requiring freight brokers to obtain a formal education, completing a program in brokering prepares you for the complexities of the job. If you decide to work at an agency, you’ll find that many employers will be looking for candidates with knowledge and experience. The advantage of training is even more so if you are planning to open a brokerage. Attracting clients will be much easier with some training and experience on your side.
For those looking to increase their knowledge of the transportation industry, the following options should prove helpful.
- Ed2Go has partnered with multiple colleges throughout Montana to offer an online freight brokerage training program that takes six months to complete.
- Brooke Training offers freight broker training either in person or online via a basic or advanced five-day intensive dive into the world of brokering.
A step further for those interested in advancing their career would be to become a Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) through the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA). A CTB is not a requirement of being a freight broker. Still, it shows potential employers and future clients that you are dedicated to the transportation industry.
To become certified, candidates must first complete the Certified Transportation Broker course, which costs $800 for non-members and $675 for members. The course takes between 60 and 180 hours to complete. Once it has been completed, candidates must sit and pass an exam consisting of three components. The components can be taken all at once or separately within three exam periods. The exam costs $525 for non-members and $375 for members.
Although membership with the TIA is not required for certification, the connections and resources provided to members can be invaluable to a freight broker.
Salary Expectations and Career Outlook
Across the nation, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that freight brokers are making an average of $43,770 per year, which works out to approximately $21.04 per hour. Brokers in Montana are doing much better, making a mean wage of $52,980 per year, which works out to about $25.47 per hour.
Regarding career outlook, freight brokers are set to increase by 10 percent from 2020 – 2030, which is above average. More than ever, goods are moving across the country and around the world, meaning freight brokers are always in demand.
Working in Montana
Montana relies heavily on its exportation of minerals, manufacturing, and agriculture. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Montana exported $1.7 billion in American goods in 2018, an increase of 19 percent from 2008.
New brokers will have the highest chance of finding employment in Montana’s larger urban centers, such as Billings and Missoula. These larger centers are hubs for manufacturing and shipping. The BLS reports the city of Billings to be among the top 10 in earnings for freight brokers.
Starting your brokerage career under the wing of a well-established freight brokerage will help you gain much-needed experience in a complex industry before possibly setting out on your own.