Becoming a Freight Broker in Tennessee
Interested in working in the transportation sector? One option you won’t want to overlook is setting up your own, at-home freight broker business. Freight brokers provide the vital link between shipping companies and goods carriers. They do so by helping shippers and carriers work together in a timely, efficient manner.
With over $30 billion dollars in exported goods, Tennessee is one of America’s top markets for shippers and carriers. This means that it’s also one of the top markets for freight brokers. As a Tennessee broker, you can maximize your work convenience while still earning plenty of income. Let’s look at the steps needed to turn this possibility into a reality.
What Are the Requirements for Tennessee Freight Brokers
Like people in all other states, Tennessee residents who want to become freight brokers must follow certain federal guidelines. Those guidelines come from a Department of Transportation agency called the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Authority).
Under FMCSA requirements, you must be a high school graduate or GED holder to work as a broker. In addition, you must follow the application process needed for a broker’s license, or MC Authority.
The first thing to do is get a USDOT number. This is the number that the FMCSA uses to identify your business and create a paper trail for your transactions. You must have one to operate. You can register for your USDOT identifier online.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Authority also wants to know that you have the proper insurance for your business. For this reason, it requires you to show proof that you’ve secured $75,000 in coverage. This coverage can take the form of a surety bond. It can also take the form of something called a trust fund agreement.
Designation of a process agent is the third major requirement for your application. Process agents represent your interests in court actions that involve your business. This means they take legal responsibility for your business’ conduct. Brokers who only have offices in Tennessee can serve as their own agents in court proceedings. You’ll also need an additional agent for every other state where your business establishes a branch.
Once you’ve filed your completed application, it takes about four to six weeks to receive your license. The FCMSA charges a $300 fee to all freight broker applicants.
What Training is Available
Legally speaking, you don’t need any specific training to open a freight broker business. However, lack of adequate knowhow can cripple your efforts to draw customers and turn a profit. For this reason, it makes sense to invest in some sort of training program before you get your business going.
To be effective, the training you receive must cover all of the major topics of concern for freight brokers. Naturally, that includes the basics of how brokers carry out their daily responsibilities. It also includes the basics of sound management and solid business organization. Effective training will also cover your legal responsibilities as a broker and show you how to market your services.
One of the best nationwide training programs for freight brokers comes from Brooke Transportation Training Solutions and ed2go. These two companies have established a comprehensive, 180-hour curriculum for all students. In addition, they employ actual industry professionals as course instructors.
In Tennessee, a number of institutions offer the Brooke Transportation/ed2go program, including:
- Tennessee State University (Nashville)
- Southwest Tennessee Community College (Memphis)
- Nashville State Community College (Nashville)
- Volunteer State Community College (Gallatin)
- Austin Peay State University (Clarksville)
- Motlow State Community College (Lynchburg)
- Tennessee Technological College (Cookeville)
- Chattanooga State Community College (Chattanooga)
No matter where you live in the state, you’ll probably find a location that’s convenient for you.
Just insert your zip code to find freight broker/agent training near you.
To stand out from the pack, you might also want to consider additional certification for your business. Strictly speaking, this isn’t necessary. However, brokers who take this step demonstrate their professionalism and dedication to high standards. An organization called the Transportation Intermediates Association offers one of the country’s premier certification programs.
How Much Do Tennessee Freight Brokers Earn?
The average freight broker based in Tennessee makes roughly $52,000 a year. This is baseline income and does not include additional earnings from broker commissions. Top earners make close to $100,000 before calculating their commission fees. Newcomers in the state can expect to make a baseline income in the low to mid $20,000s. However, you can easily earn more as you gain experience. That’s especially true if you pick the right location for your business.
Best Locations for Freight Brokers in Tennessee
Freight brokers have the best chances of succeeding when they operate near manufacturing hubs. Such hubs tend to be located in the vicinity of major population centers. Prime choices in Tennessee include Nashville and Memphis, the state’s two largest cities. Additional options include: