How to become a cargo or freight handler

The primary responsibility of a cargo handler is to supervise the loading and unloading of all consignments. They play a pivotal role in the economy as they help transport products or raw materials from one point to the next

16 October 2018 - 12:00 By PACE
Cargo handlers at a logistics firm.
Cargo handlers at a logistics firm.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov.

Cargo handlers move freight, stock and other materials and often perform other unskilled labour.

Cargo handlers may attach identifying labels or mark them with information. They must be able to interpret instruction in a verbal or written manner. They also have to record numbers of units handled.

Freight handlers are found in transportation industries, such as airlines, shipping, and railroad companies. They may work specifically as baggage or cargo handlers or truck loaders and unloaders. Their specific duties differ, according to work setting or industry. They may also work in warehouses or storage areas.

The job carries responsibility as the cargo controller forms the link between the customer and the safe, quick and efficient delivery of consignments. They work with tools, such as dollies, forklifts, hand trucks, jacks, pallet trucks or wrapping machinery. They also may work with computers, such as data entry software or industry management software.

How to Enter

Schooling & School SubjectsGrade 10 Certificate

What to Study

Transnet offers in-service training:

  • Practical training on-the-job and
  • Theoretical training at the Esselen Park Training


  • Transnet
  • fast delivery services, such as DHL, Fedex, etc.
  • freighters and shippers
  • airline and railroad companies

Further Information

Transnet P O Box 72501 Parkview, 2122 Carlton Centre 49th Floor 150 Commissioner Street Johannesburg Tel: (011) 308 -3000 Fax: (011) 308 2638 Any forwarding, freighting or shipping agent

Getting Started

  • make an appointment to talk to a cargo handler about this type of work
  • try to secure a part-time or vacation job with a freight company or Transnet

-For more information please visit Go Study