“Can I become a freight broker without experience?” We hear this question quite often, and there’s a handful of item’s you’ll want to look at before starting your career in freight. In this blog, we’ll explore the ways you can get started as a freight broker along with some tips to boost your chances at success in this industry.
What Experience is Needed?
So let’s answer the question right up front, and then we can elaborate. Yes, you can absolutely become a freight broker without experience. Every broker in the industry had to start at one point or another, and none of them were brokers prior to starting. Some may have had some transportation experience, but that isn’t a prerequisite. One of the great benefits of not having any industry knowledge is that you don’t have to potentially unlearn any bad habits. Some new brokers that worked for a trucking company in the past learned some bad habits or practices with their previous employer that they need to unlearn or correct. If you are green and have no background in the industry, you’re a blank canvas and the sky's the limit with what you can learn and earn.
Types of Positions
There’s three main types of roles in the brokerage world. The most common is the W2 broker. These are employees of a brokerage company. They typically have zero experience and go through a training program when they are hired. This is where their basic knowledge and experience is gained. The majority of brokers that start as W2 employees for a company have absolutely no experience in the industry which is why they spend so much time training in their first 3-6 months.
Next is the licensed broker. We’ve covered the steps to get licensed and start a freight brokerage extensively in our other content, so we’ll skip that today. But, in a nutshell, there’s very little when it comes to barriers to entry in this career. A little money and some application steps will get you licensed and up and running within about a month. Many licensed brokers start with no experience, so they’ve got to fill the experience gap with good training or coaching in order to set themselves up for success. Still, there is no legal requirement for experience when it comes to getting your freight broker authority from the FMCSA.
Finally, there is the 1099 freight agent. These brokers are not licensed themselves, and they’re not W2 employees. They are independent contractors that work under a licensed brokerage company. The company that contracts the agent will determine if experience is needed to join their agent-based model. A good rule of thumb is this: more experience and having an established customer base usually leads to a better commission percentage for agents. The companies that take on agents with no experience usually pair them with an experienced agent to learn from or put them through a training program and offer a lower starting commission percentage.
Depending on which business model you chose, W2, getting your license, or being an agent, you’ll have a different way of learning the industry. W2s are typically put through a training program from their employer. Agents either already have experience, or learn the job as they go from others in their company. If you opt to start your own brokerage without any industry experience, you need to find a solid training program that will guide you through everything you need to know to start and succeed. That’s why we created the Freight Broker Basics course. Our step-by-step course walks new brokers through every step including applying for their authority, prospecting new shippers, onboarding new carriers, and all other admin tasks that come with the job. Starting a brokerage with no experience and no training won’t do you much good. You’ve got to have some direction and education in your career field to be successful.
Training isn’t the only thing that will lead to your success as a freight broker. We recommend a solid coaching program to help you with your specific needs and circumstances as you get started. Not everyone has the same issues or situations as a freight broker, so no single freight broker training option will be perfect for everyone. There’s lot of options for coaching when it comes to new brokers. Some people prefer 1-on-1 coaching with an experienced freight broker coach while others prefer a group setting. We created a variety of coaching options for our clients to make sure we’re taking care of everyone’s specific needs. 1-on-1 coaching is great for those that want some serious focus and attention from their coach, while group coaching is great for those that want to learn not just from their own questions, but from others’ as well. We include a free month of group coaching to all of our students in the Freight Broker Basics course, so make sure to check that out if you’re enrolled with us.
Learning From Peers
Like I mentioned before with group coaching, there is a great benefit to learning from other’s questions in addition to your own. Let’s take it one step further. Outside of coaching, it’s great to learn from your peers that are in this industry as well. For the W2 folks, it’s pretty easy. You’re usually in an office setting with other brokers around you so you can listen to their calls and ask questions easily. For agents and licensed brokers, it’s not that simple. Thanks to programs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can virtually meet with others super easily now. We love the idea of you being able to hear someone else’s calls and have them hear yours for a second perspective and some feedback. You can do dialing sessions together or even just keep the meeting open for when you do have a quick question for them or vice versa. Either way, try and find some way to be connected to other brokers for feedback as you get started on your journey. There’s lots of Facebook and LinkedIn groups for brokers, so make sure you get connected in those as well.
So that’s it, anyone can get started as a freight broker even if they don’t have experience in the field. But remember, you’ve got to make sure you have the proper training, coaching, and feedback from others to set yourself up for success.