Also known as an Airline Operations Agent, the freight or cargo agent must have top-notch communication skills for receiving and transmitting information from and to pilots, ground crew, flight schedulers, and fuelers. This person must be able to juggle a large amount of information at once, and prioritize what needs to get done and when. If a flight is overbooked, agents must make decisions to remedy the situation in a way that will not negatively impact the schedule.
Freight and cargo agents accept shipments from other carriers and their own airlines. They create and maintain shipping records of shipments and oversee the loading and unloading of freight. The agent makes sure that the cargo’s weight is properly distributed within the aircraft and does not exceed the maximum allowable load which requires the use of calculators and knowledge of the aircraft. They are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the loads are properly secured to prevent them from shifting during flight which can be a serious safety issue.
Cargo and freight agents can work their way up into senior levels of management. Working in the airlines industry is exciting, and many enjoy the fast pace of working behind the scenes.
The position of freight or cargo agent requires attention to detail, good math skills, and the ability to multi-task as well as remain calm under stressful and hectic circumstances.
This is an indoors position that requires the use of computers, calculators, and telephones. Basic skills in those areas are necessary. The ability to communicate clearly is also necessary. The ability to speak a secondary language may be helpful, particularly if the position entails speaking with individuals internationally or in company offices located in other areas of the world.
High school diploma or equivalent. Because of the math skills involved, some secondary education is preferred, as is experience in the shipping industry. The ability to lift cargo or baggage up to 70 lbs or more may occasionally be required.
Much of the training for air freight or cargo agents is done on the job by the airline company.
Salary and Benefits
The average annual salary is about $36,000 or $17.00 per hour. Benefits may include a retirement plan, stock options, dental and life insurance, and paid vacations.