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Career profile Cargo Agent

Also known as Cargo Agent, Documentation Clerk, Drop Shipment Clerk, Freight Broker, Intermodal Dispatcher, International Coordinator, Load Planner, Logistics Coordinator, Logistics Service Representative

Cargo Agent

Also known as Cargo Agent, Documentation Clerk, Drop Shipment Clerk

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$27,780 - $69,890 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Active Listening
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Transportation
  • Geography
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Negotiate and arrange transport of goods with shipping or freight companies.
  • Determine method of shipment and prepare bills of lading, invoices, and other shipping documents.
  • Track delivery progress of shipments.
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What does a Cargo Agent do?

Cargo Agents expedite and route movement of incoming and outgoing cargo and freight shipments in airline, train, and trucking terminals and shipping docks.

In addition, Cargo Agents

  • take orders from customers and arrange pickup of freight and cargo for delivery to loading platform,
  • prepare and examine bills of lading to determine shipping charges and tariffs.

What kind of tasks does a Cargo Agent perform regularly?

Cargo Agents are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Negotiate and arrange transport of goods with shipping or freight companies.
  • Determine method of shipment and prepare bills of lading, invoices, and other shipping documents.
  • Track delivery progress of shipments.
  • Advise clients on transportation and payment methods.
  • Estimate freight or postal rates and record shipment costs and weights.
  • Keep records of all goods shipped, received, and stored.
  • Notify consignees, passengers, or customers of freight or baggage arrival and arrange for delivery.
  • Retrieve stored items and trace lost shipments as necessary.
  • Enter shipping information into a computer by hand or by a hand-held scanner that reads bar codes on goods.

The above responsibilities are specific to Cargo Agents. More generally, Cargo Agents are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

What is a Cargo Agent salary?

The median salary for a Cargo Agent is $43,770, and the average salary is $47,170. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Cargo Agent salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Cargo Agents earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Cargo Agents earn less than $27,780 per year, 25% earn less than $34,400, 75% earn less than $56,060, and 90% earn less than $69,890.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Cargo Agents is expected to change by 9.9%, and there should be roughly 10,700 open positions for Cargo Agents every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$27,780 - $69,890
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Cargo Agents?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Cargo Agent are usually higher in their Conventional and Enterprising interests.

Cargo Agents typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Cargo Agents typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Cargo Agent tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Cargo Agents moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Cargo Agents moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Cargo Agents moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Cargo Agents must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, stress tolerance, and adaptability/flexibility.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Cargo Agents, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

What education and training do Cargo Agents need?

Working as a Cargo Agent usually requires a high school diploma.

Cargo Agents need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Cargo Agents

  • 2.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 28.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 30.6% completed some college coursework
  • 12.4% earned a Associate's degree
  • 23.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Cargo Agents

Cargo Agents may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as transportation, geography, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Cargo Agents might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Cargo Agents

Cargo Agents must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Cargo Agents need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Cargo Agents, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Cargo Agents

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Cargo Agents frequently use skills like speaking, active listening, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Cargo Agents, ranked by their relative importance.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.