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International Forwarding Association Blog » European Logistics Network » How to Become a Shipper: A Guide in 3 Steps

How to Become a Shipper: A Guide in 3 Steps

A shipper is a business that receives, oversees, and transports cargo on behalf of other businesses. The company can choose to ship goods by sea, rail, or road based on type of cargo, final destination, optimal route, and budget. The forwarder is also tasked with unloading and loading of cargo, inspecting quantity and quality, checking inventory receipts, and more.


How to Become a Shipper


If you are interested in becoming a freight forwarder, you need to master some essential skills, identify your career goals, and learn how to manage contracts and international freight services.

  1. Essential Skills to Master

To become a shipper, you must have record-keeping, problem-solving, attention to detail, and interpersonal and communication skills. Also, you need to have good geographical knowledge, sensitivity to culture, planning and organizational skills, integrity, and tolerance to stress.

Last but not least, freight forwarders need to have a substantial knowledge of political developments, currency movements, bank instruments, import and export regulations, weather, and global trade.


  1. Determine Your Career Path

The next step is to consider your career progression. For example, you can start out as a driver and then progress to a role such as a foreman, project manager, and purchasing manager. Alternatively, you can start out as a material handler and move to become a technician, production supervisor, and then warehouse manager.

Other international freight forwarding job roles include:

  • Operations manager
  • Air/sea freight operator
  • Freight forwarding pricing coordinator
  • Cartage/export/import operations coordinator
  • Export/import officer

When considering a career in freight forwarding, you can apply for a job with a manufacturing business, wholesale or retail establishment, and other industrial and commercial businesses.


  1. Core Responsibilities as a Freight Forwarder

As a shipper, you need to master some core responsibilities such as handling permits and freight forwarding documentation, organizing and planning shipping by different modes of transportation, and managing liability, insurance risk, and contracts in a domestic and international context.

As a shipper, you will need to learn how to record, accept, ship, and track the movement of stock, equipment, materials, supplies, and parts. You will be providing a wide range of services that you need good knowledge of, including:

You will also be calculating cost, volume, and weight of goods, arranging insurance, negotiating rates, booking cargo space, and arranging schedules and routes. You’d liaise with clients to deliver invoices and quotations, agree and sign contracts, and give advice about the best route, mode of delivery, and the arrangements made.

As a shipper, you will be inspecting cargo against shipping documents and invoices, rejecting damaged items, and recording shortages. You should be able to operate equipment such as hand truck and forklift to unload and load, ship, and store cargo. You also need to learn to be able to assemble crates and containers, pack cargo to be transported, and prepare shipping instructions and identifying information.