Approximately 11,000 licensed customs brokers worked in the United States as of 2013, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. Corporations, government agencies and independent brokerage companies depend on customs brokers to ensure products entering and exiting the United States comply with federal regulations. They also calculate tariffs, or rates of duty, for importers and exporters, classify goods and commodities and ensure proper documentation is completed and processed. Customs brokers' salaries vary by geographic area or industry.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a customs broker was $50,000 as of 2013, according to Indeed. To become a customs broker, you need at least a high school diploma or GED. You will then need to pass the Customs Broker License Examination through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, or CBP, by getting a minimum score of 75 percent. Some employers may prefer that you have two or more years of experience as a customs broker. Other essential requirements are math, organizational, bookkeeping, computer and customer service skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for customs brokers varied considerably in the U.S. In the Midwest, they earned the highest salaries of $54,000 in Illinois and the lowest of $38,000 in South Dakota and Nebraska. Those in the West made $34,000 to $55,000 in Hawaii and California, respectively. If you worked as a customs broker in the South, you'd earn the most in Washington, D.C., or the least in Louisiana, $59,000 or $43,000, respectively. In the Northeast, your salary would be $43,000 in Maine or $61,000 in New York, which represents the lowest and highest salaries in that region.
You may earn more as a customs broker in certain industries. In 2012, cargo and freight agents' salaries were highest in the support activities for the water transportation industry at $60,960 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also earned relatively high salaries of $51,860 working for the federal executive branch of government, versus an industry average of $38,940 for all cargo and freight agents. Customs brokers also earn more in New York and California because living costs are higher in those two states.
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs for customs brokers, but it does project a 29 percent increase in jobs for cargo and freight agents, which is faster than the 14 percent national growth rate for all occupations. If the economy continues improving, you may find more job opportunities for custom brokers, as companies will import and export more products. Increased sales on the Internet may also increase job opportunities for customs brokers, as products shipped internationally must go through U.S. customs at shipping centers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Cargo and Freight Agents: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Cargo and Freight Agents
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Becoming a Customers Broker
- Indeed: Customers Broker Salary
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- Indeed: Customs Broker Salary in Maine, and New York
- Indeed: Customs Broker Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Customs Broker Salary in Louisiana, and Washington, DC
- Indeed: Customs Broker Salary in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Illinois
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images