Warehouse Worker Job Description - Skills, Duties and Career Path
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Warehouse Worker Job Description
A warehouse worker (sometimes called a warehouse operative) is a person who performs warehousing, storage and material handling tasks in a warehouse or distribution centre, usually under the instructions of a warehouse manager or supervisor.
A warehouse worker’s responsibilities include picking and packing items for dispatch, processing inbound and outbound shipments (e.g. sorting, loading and unloading goods), preparing and verifying shipping documents and ensuring products are stored in the correct location and in a good condition.
Let’s take a detailed look at the job of a warehouse worker.
One of the main tasks of a warehouse worker is processing goods arriving at the warehouse (e.g. by truck, van, flatbed pickup etc). A warehouse worker’s first job is to check that the incoming items match the corresponding invoices and accompanying shipping documents. The goods are also inspected to ensure they are undamaged; any damaged items are usually rejected and sent back, in accordance with company procedures. Once a delivery of goods has been accepted, the warehouse worker signs the receipts and any other administrative paperwork and then unload the goods from the delivery vehicle, sorting them into the appropriate storage area of the warehouse (with the help of forklift operators and other warehouse operatives, where necessary).
Warehouse workers are also responsible for processing outbound goods, e.g. picking orders from the warehouse, packing them (in boxes or crates or onto pallets) and preparing the paper or digital shipping documents needed for delivery.
Increasingly frequently, warehouse workers use warehouse management software, barcode scanners, RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) readers and other similar technology to record product information. Once picking and packing is complete, warehouse workers are responsible for moving outbound goods to the loading dock and preparing them for shipment.
Additional tasks of a warehouse worker include ensuring that outbound goods are ready at the scheduled time, coordinating pick-ups with customers and freight forwarders and helping with pallet loading.
As with inbound operations, warehouse workers are also required to check that the contents of outbound shipments match the corresponding paperwork (e.g. invoices and shipping documents).
Other key aspects of the job of a warehouse worker include liaising and coordinating with delivery drivers, hauliers and couriers, ensuring log books are kept up to date and performing inventory controls in coordination with the purchasing office.
Warehouse workers are frequently required to move items between warehouse shelves, loading and unloading areas and delivery vehicles. For this reason, a key requirement of the job is the ability to operate forklift trucks and manual and electric pallet jacks safely and efficiently. When using forklifts and other material handling equipment and/or vehicles, warehouse workers must comply with the applicable safety and accident prevention regulations in order to ensure their own safety and that of their colleagues.
Warehouse workers are needed in all types of industries.
The majority of job advertisements for warehouse worker positions are in the logistics departments of large retail and wholesale companies (e.g. food, electronics, clothing and footwear, consumer goods, furniture). Such companies typically have large warehouses or distribution centres that they use for storing goods to be sold through physical shops or online, through e-commerce sites.
Warehouse workers are also employed by manufacturing companies that have warehouses for storing the raw materials needed for production (e.g. metalworking and engineering companies, food and beverage businesses, chemical and pharmaceutical firms, automotive producers and many others). They may also find work with companies that provide third party logistics and transportation services.
The job of a warehouse worker is a physically demanding one that frequently involves lifting, moving, loading and unloading heavy items. In addition, people working in logistics are often under pressure to deliver improvements in service levels and efficiency, while at the same time reducing time and costs.
The hours of a warehouse worker often follow a 2 or 3 shift pattern depending on production requirements or other criteria. Positions offering flexible schedules, such as vacancies for part time warehouse workers, can also be found.
Warehouse Worker Responsibilities and Tasks
The daily tasks of a warehouse worker include:
- Receiving incoming goods and accepting or rejecting them in accordance with company procedures
- Preparing outbound goods and handing them over to delivery drivers, hauliers etc or to end customers
- Preparing and checking shipment documents
- Performing goods loading/unloading operations with trucks, vans and containers
- Performing material handling tasks in warehouse using forklifts and jack pallets
- Performing reordering and stock control activities
Warehouse Worker - Education and Training
Aspiring warehouse workers can learn about managing a warehouse efficiently and effectively by attending a training course for logistics personnel. Typical course content includes the safe operation of material handling vehicles, preparing documentation for goods receipt and deliveries and using electronic warehouse management software and goods identification technology (e.g. barcode scanners and RFID readers).
Newly-recruited warehouse workers typically need to supplement their theoretical training with a period of practical on-the-job training, which will enable them to familiarize themselves with the in-house warehouse management procedures used by their employer.
Warehouse workers are frequently required to hold a valid forklift operator license demonstrating their ability to drive a forklift truck safely and efficiently (this is a particularly common requirement for warehouse worker/forklift operator jobs) or a driving license for vans and others goods vehicles (especially common for for warehouse worker/driver vacancies).
Finally, warehouse personnel whose job involves the storage and handling of chemical products and/or hazardous substances may need a permit enabling them to work with specific types of goods.
Warehouse Worker Skills and Qualifications
Warehouse workers require the following skills:
- Knowledge of organizational, administrative and financial aspects of warehouse management
- Knowledge of warehouse logistics and storage and handling procedures
- Ability to process warehouse documentation (e.g. shipping invoices, bills of lading, picking lists, purchase and sale price lists)
- Ability to operate forklift trucks
- Organizational skills
- Reliability and precision
- Willingness to work shifts and flexible approach to hours
- Good physical fitness and stamina
Warehouse Worker Career Path
Warehouse workers typically begin their career in logistics with a period of on-the-job training. This represents an opportunity to gain familiarity with common warehousing tasks and practices.
Experienced warehouse workers may progress to roles such as shift supervisor or team leader, while further professional growth opportunities include going into an administrative or office role (for example, as a clerk in the purchasing or procurement department) or advancing to become a warehouse manager (or logistics manager).
Warehouse Managers are responsible for planning and coordinating warehouse operations and resources and as such play a key role in ensuring the whole supply chain runs smoothly.
Top Reasons to Work as a Warehouse Worker
A job as a warehouse worker is an opportunity to acquire skills and experience in a wide range of warehousing tasks and procedures (including goods receipt and shipment, storage and warehousing, material handling, goods identification and tracking, and stock management and control) and thus represents a first step towards a career in warehousing, logistics and supply chain management.
Industry access is easy, with entry requirements relatively low. Nevertheless, the sector is a competitive and stimulating one that offers excellent opportunities for professional growth and development.
Job vacancies for warehouse workers are numerous and widespread. In addition, warehouse management skills are in high demand in a wide range of sectors and industries.
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