The auto transport industry is a big, complicated, and growing industry. At first glance, you’d think it’s just people transporting vehicles from point A to point B, but when you get deeper into the subject, you’ll find a lot of nooks and crannies that work together to make this complex system work.
Because it’s such a big and complex industry, auto transport can provide a lot of employment opportunities for people with different experiences, training, and even life goals. Take the auto transport broker: this is a person behind the scene that essentially has to oversee the client’s shipments go through properly, sometimes using a combination of carriers. Their responsibilities can vary greatly and can come with different levels of complexities.
It’s a complex job, and statistics show there is a need for it, as the number of broker jobs has increased by around 14% since 2014. But for those considering making a career jump, the burning question is this: what much do these people make?
Let’s Look at the Numbers
There are plenty of openings for auto transport brokers, but of course, the salary depends on the size of the company one joins, as well as their experience, type of employment (full-time or part-time), and even the location where they work.
A broker working for a company with only a handful of small clients will likely earn a lot less than brokers who handle shipments worth millions of dollars. Additionally, there are different levels when it comes to being an auto-shipment broker. You can be the individual that oversees the entire process from start to finish, or you can simply be one smaller piece of a much bigger puzzle.
According to Indeed, the national average salary for a transport broker in the US is around $61,680 a year and additional compensation of $28,400 a year for commissions. For comparison, the average broker salary in Alabama is $51,330 per year, while a broker in Alaska only makes an average of $39,620 per year.
These jobs play a critical role in the auto shipping industry. They essentially make sure that a company or manufacturer can ship their vehicles without interruption, keeping the supply chain going.
What Does a Broker Actually Do?
The auto transport broker is the person (or company) that book orders to ship people’s vehicles. They receive these orders and then coordinate with a carrier to see it through. The carrier is the player that actually owns the trucks for transport, hires the drivers, and has the equipment to keep the vehicles in place.
Brokers receive a commission from the carriers by providing them for a car or motorcycle shipment order. General freight brokers usually get paid per load, which is around 25-35% of the load, though it can depend on the broker. Auto transport brokers, on the other hand, will receive their fees based on the number of cars hauled. They have a moving fee that can range anywhere from $100 to $300, but the major factor that determines how much money they make:
- The mileage of the transport
- The location the shipment needs to arrive, which may complicate the process
- The additional services the client needs for the shipment, such as transporting in a closed container to keep the vehicle safe. This means the options the broker has for carriers is limited, so they’d need to do additional research to find appropriate carriers.
People can find it difficult to distinguish between the broker and the carrier (also since many brokerage companies have pictures of truck fleets to present a different idea of what they are), but there’s also another layer to add to the discussion.
The Auto Transport Company
There are carriers, there are brokers, and then there are auto transport companies. What’s the difference?
Well, these are companies that handle the entire auto shipment process, from coordinating car shipping, talking to clients and keeping them updated, resolving problems that may arise, etc.
The auto transport company is like a merge between the carrier and the broker. They handle everything, which also means they are usually large companies that operate nationally and have a lot more staff on their payroll.
Auto transport brokers can work for these types of companies who handle everything (and have their own fleet) or work for smaller brokerage businesses that collaborate with multiple carriers. Usually, since these larger companies offer a more comprehensive array of services, they are also much cheaper, which makes them more convenient for the client who needs to have their vehicle transported.
If you work for such a company, the job itself becomes a tad easier, since you don’t have to deal with multiple companies operating under different company policies. Here, all the drivers are employed by the same company that hired you, which can greatly facilitate communication between you and the other staff members involved in the transport.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Broker?
Though the broker doesn’t actually prepare, load, and drive the vehicles for transport, they still need to be very familiarized with the entire process.
Usually, their top priority is to arrange transport and track the vehicles as they’re being delivered. They will also:
- Research carriers to verify if they are reliable, up to codes, and can generally handle the requirements of the transport;
- Coordinate timing of available loads so shipment can be delivered on time;
- Communicate with the client.
There are many broker jobs where all they ask for is a high school diploma, but this directly affects how much you get paid, as it’s likely you won’t have a lot of complicated responsibilities. Some companies want a person with higher education, preferably in logistics or supply chain management, especially if you’re dealing with bigger clients that have higher demands, like a car manufacturer.
To become a broker, you have to pass an exam offered by the Transportation Intermediaries Association, which will allow you to operate as a transportation broker in any industry. For the auto industry, you don’t need any additional qualifications, though in this case, it’s essential to understand how pricing in the auto industry works, and how volatile these prices can be.
Check the A-1 Auto Transport broker directory
The world of auto shipping is big enough to make room for everybody, even if here at A-1 Auto Transport, we like to take care of the entire process ourselves. It’s our secret for doing the job well every time, as there’s little room for mistakes when you don’t have to deal with a lot of third parties.
Still, if you’re thinking about joining the industry and are looking for a job as an auto transport broker, you can check our directory for some of the best broker companies out there. These are reputable, trustworthy companies you can trust, both as an employee and even as a client.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.