Cargo agents, sometimes called freight agents, make sure that cargo gets shipped where it is supposed to go by the fastest or cheapest route. They negotiate shipping rates for clients and verify tariff and customs on international shipments. This job does not typically require formal education past a high school diploma, and cargo agents are trained while on the job.
National Average Pay
According to 2012 estimates issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cargo agents earn an average of $20.34 an hour and $42,310 a year. While the lowest-paid 10 percent earned $23,920 or less and the highest-paid 10 percent made $61,780 or more per year, 50 percent of all cargo agents reported annual wages ranging from $30,750 to $50,300.
Pay by State
Connecticut was the highest-paying state for this occupation in 2012, with an average salary of $55,340 per year. Cargo agents working in the District of Columbia reported an average annual salary of $55,040, the second-highest pay in the country. Washington reported the third-highest salary in the nation, $54,770 per year, followed by Oregon at $54,110 and Nebraska at $52,590. Nevada reported the lowest average pay for cargo agents in 2012, at $30,490 per year.
Pay by Industry
Most cargo agents worked for freight-arrangement services in 2012, earning an annual average salary of $43,620 per year. However, some worked directly for freight and transportation industries. Those employed in the scheduled air transportation industry averaged $40,190, while those employed by couriers and express delivery services such as FedEx and UPS averaged $39,970 per year. Cargo agents in the freight trucking industry averaged $41,840 per year and those in the water transportation industry received the highest average salary at $57,130.
Job opportunities are expected to be strong for aspiring cargo agents between 2010 and 2020. While the American economy is expected to add jobs at an average rate of 14 percent, the BLS projects jobs for cargo agents will grow at more than double that rate: 29 percent. This will lead to an estimated 24,100 new jobs by the end of the decade. Candidates who have strong customer service and computer skills have the best chances for employment.
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