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Career Profiles Database
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Warehouse workers, also known as warehouse operatives, handle goods and products that come through a warehouse or stockroom. They can work in distribution depots, retail superstores and manufacturing plants.
Typical duties include:
- taking delivery of goods and supplies
- checking for damaged or missing items
- storing goods correctly
- moving goods around by hand, with the aid of lifting gear or with a forklift truck
- picking orders
- packing and loading goods for dispatch (some jobs include making the deliveries)
- keeping paperwork up to date
- cleaning work areas.
Operatives work with a warehouse team leader, who makes sure that they follow work schedules and complete tasks safely and on time. They have administrative duties, such as processing timesheets and completing productivity records. Team leaders report to a warehouse manager.
Hours and Environment
Warehouse workers work 37 to 40 hours a week. Shiftwork is common, including evenings and weekends. Part-time, temporary work and overtime are often available.
Most modern warehouses are large, light and airy, but some goods have to be stored under special conditions, which may affect the working environment, for example food or chemicals. Some of the loading and unloading can be outdoors in all weathers. Workers normally wear protective clothing like safety shoes.
Skills and Interests
As a warehouse worker, you should:
- be physically fit
- be a good teamworker
- have the ability to work quickly and efficiently
- be able to complete paperwork and count stock items
- have basic computer skills
- be able to follow health and safety regulations
- be honest and reliable
- be able to work flexibly.
- be able to motivate other people
- have problem-solving skills
- be able to produce reports and records
- be able to work on your own initiative.
You do not need any formal qualifications to be a warehouse worker, but basic English, maths and IT skills are useful. In warehouses where storage is colour-coded, normal colour vision is required. You should check entry requirements with employers.
Some employers may run apprenticeship schemes as a way in. See the Training section for apprenticeship contact details.
Employers prefer team leaders with experience of warehouse work or experience of a supervisory role in another industry.
A driving licence may be required for some positions.
For more details about this job, training information and the industry, see the websites for Careers in Logistics and Skills for Logistics in Further Information.
You get on-the-job training, covering lifting, carrying and handling techniques, storage requirements, completing paperwork and computer records, and health and safety. The employer may also offer you forklift training. See the profile for Forklift Truck Operator.
You can work towards NVQ/SVQ qualifications on the job. These include:
- Distribution, Warehousing and Storage Operations at levels 1, 2 and 3
- Storage and Warehousing at levels 2 and 3.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) offers the Level 2 Introductory Certificate in Logistics and Transport, which provides a grounding in relevant areas and has an optional unit in Warehousing. The Level 3 Certificate in Logistics and Transport is suitable for warehouse supervisors. See the CILT website for details.
Apprenticeships may be available for those under the age of 24. In England these are currently Apprenticeships (level 2) and Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3). To find out more about these, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk
Apprenticeships may be different in other areas. For further information see Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland
There are warehouse workers employed all over the UK. Employers include supermarkets and high street shops, mail order companies, distribution companies, manufacturers, government departments, the health service and the armed forces.
With the right training and experience, opportunities for promotion include team leader or shift supervisor roles, warehouse management and moving into the distribution side, for example LGV driver. See the profiles for Supervisor: Manufacturing, Warehouse Manager and Driver: Large Goods Vehicle.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Warehouse workers usually start between £10,000 and £12,000 a year.
Experienced workers can earn around £14,000 to £16,000 a year.
A warehouse team leader can earn up to £22,000 a year.
There may be productivity bonuses and shift allowances on top of basic pay.
Further Help and Advice
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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.
Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice