Freight Forwarder

    If you are wondering how to become a freight forwarder, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning import / export or shipping careers within the transport industry, as well as logistics job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Freight forwarders, also known as export, import or shipping clerks, organise the movement of goods by road, rail, air and sea. They plan the best and most cost-effective ways of transporting goods around the UK and between countries.

    The work involves:
    arranging routes and schedules, and confirming the details with carriers
    booking cargo space with carriers
    dealing with rates and insurance
    calculating weight, volume and cost of goods to be moved
    recording details on a computer system
    preparing quotations and invoices
    clearing goods through customs and arranging for any duties or taxes to be paid
    preparing contracts such as Letters of Credit
    advising clients about the arrangements that have been made.
    Freight forwarders also carry out general administrative duties around the office.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good import, export and shipping managers include:

    good spoken and written communication skills
    good mathematical skills
    accuracy and attention to detail
    computer skills
    good organisational skills
    tact and diplomacy
    an interest in geography.

    How to become a freight forwarder
    Entry requirements will vary between freight forwarding companies, although you will often be asked for four GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths, or similar qualifications. Some employers may prefer you to have A levels, or a BTEC HNC/HND or degree. Whatever your qualifications, you will find it useful to have office experience, computer skills and foreign language skills.

    If you have a HND or degree, you may be able to join one of the larger employers through a graduate training scheme. You may have an advantage with a HND or degree in one of the following subjects:

    transport and distribution management
    supply chain management
    business and management
    foreign languages with business studies.
    Check with colleges or universities for HND and degree entry requirements.

    You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

    Training and Development
    You will be trained on the job by your employer. You could also take relevant qualifications from the British International Freight Association (BIFA), the Institute of Export or the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

    BIFA offers:

    BIFA Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Understanding the Freight Business and International Trade
    BTEC-approved awards in Customs Import and Export Procedures, and International Freight Procedures.
    The Institute of Export offers:
    Certificate in International Trade (CIT) – you do not need any previous qualifications for this entry-level qualification
    Advanced Certificate in International Trade (ACIT) – you must be 18 or over with at least four GCSEs (A-C) including English plus one A level or equivalent, or at least 21 with three or more years’ work experience in international trade
    Diploma in International Trade (DIT) – you must have passed the Advanced Certificate.
    If you have a relevant HND, degree, postgraduate qualification or NVQ level 3 or 4, these may count towards part of the ACIT course.

    The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport offers courses including:
    Level 2 Certificate in Logistics and Transport – an entry-level qualification
    Level 3 Certificate in Logistics and Transport – for supervisors
    Level 5 Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport – for new managers, or recent graduates with non-business degrees.
    All three organisations also offer a range of short courses at training centres around the UK. Please see their websites (in Further Information) for more details about qualifications and short courses.

    You may also be able to work towards Traffic Office NVQs levels 2 and 3 in , which deal with organising the movement of goods by land.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Trainees can start on between £12,000 and £15,000 a year
    With experience, this can rise to £15,000 to £25,000 a year
    Managers could earn up to £30,000 to £40,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    As a freight forwarder you could work for local, national and international freight forwarding companies, major retailers, manufacturers, warehousing and distribution firms, or the armed forces. With experience, you could progress to become a supervisor or manager.

    Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus, by specialist recruitment agencies and websites (see BIFA website for a list of agencies), and in trade magazines like International Freighting Weekly.

    Useful logistics or transport resources:
    British International Freight Association (BIFA)
    Education and Training Services
    Redfern House
    Browells Lane
    TW13 7EP
    Tel: 020 8844 2266

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