Do you work well with machinery and enjoy being part of a busy team in a fast-paced environment? If so, a job as a material handler may be a good fit for you.
Material handlers move products in warehouse and manufacturing facilities, either manually or with equipment like forklifts or trucks. They’re typically responsible for moving inventory and other materials to fill orders before shipment. Material handlers must have strength and stamina, as they’re often on their feet for long periods loading and unloading heavy items.
Sample job description
[Your Company Name] would not be where it is today without the labor of hardworking and organizationally minded material handlers. In order for our warehouses and production facilities to run smoothly and efficiently, it is imperative that we employ material handlers who can locate, wrap, and convey our products in a speedy and responsible manner. The importance of this work to our day-to-day operations cannot be understated, and therefore we are only interested in applicants who appreciate the gravity of their daily tasks. Fragile products must be handled with care, whereas heavy products must be handled with caution. If you have a well-developed work ethic, a knack for organization, and thrive in fast-paced environments, you might have what it takes to excel as a material handler at [Your Company Name].
Typical duties and responsibilities
Load and unload incoming and outgoing materials and products
Move materials to and from loading docks, delivery trucks, storage, and manufacturing areas
Identify and label materials, and record their locations on warehouse shelves to maintain inventory
Prepare products for shipment by identifying their location, then pulling, packing, and loading them
Operate trucks, forklifts, cranes, and other equipment to move freight
Perform and report cycle counts
Comply with all warehouse safety rules and guidelines
Education and experience
This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Material handlers need to be certified, preferably with on-the-job experience. If possible, candidates should have experience working in a warehouse setting or in logistics, and be able to operate material handling equipment.
Required skills and qualifications
Ability to work well with a team
Knowledge of logistical supply chain methods and procedures
Proficiency in inventory control
Ability to read and understand delivery orders, and work with minimal guidance
Ability to operate computers and relevant warehouse management computer software
Follow safe work practices and procedures
Ability to operate an industrial powered lift truck or forklift according to company procedures and governmental regulations
Desire to work in a fast-paced, organized, and positive warehouse environment
Ability to frequently lift, push, and slide packages that typically weigh up to 50 lbs, and may weigh up to 70 lbs
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a material handler is 30,000 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
Typical work environment
Our material handlers operate within warehouses and production facilities that are lined with shelves containing various products awaiting their turn to be sorted, processed, and delivered. Each individual product must be accounted for and handled professionally in order to maintain the orderliness of our operation. A material handler’s duties include, but are not limited to, monitoring inventory, fulfilling customer orders by transitioning products from shelves to delivery trucks, and accurately documenting the entire process by filling out the requisite forms in accordance with company policy.
The typical work hours for a material handler can be from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday in a warehouse, construction, or industrial setting. With materials often shipping around the clock, overtime hours aren’t uncommon, depending upon the employer.
In order to assure us of your commitment to our professional standards, and to distinguish yourself from other, less qualified applicants, please consider satisfying the requirements for some or all of the following certifications:
OSHA Safety Certificate. OSHA is very important in the warehouse, which is why many employers will demand that you have this certification. You will have to complete a 40-hour program covering safety standards that the construction industry and various other industries are expected to adhere to. This program will also train you to recognize a variety of potential health issues and safety hazards that OSHA regulations are designed to offset. In addition to the 40-hour program, more than two years of education or training after high school and more than two years of work experience are also required.
EPA Amusement Operators Safety Certification. To receive this certification, you have to go through the program that focuses on the safe and proper utilization of equipment and machinery. Many employers like this because this certification means that you are less likely to get into any accidents at work. You’ll also need to complete an exam to receive this certification.
The career path for a material handler starts by obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as earning forklift operator certification. Often, new material handlers might begin with an entry-level position but can receive promotions over time with experience.
US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook
SOC Code: 53-7064
Projected Employment in 2030
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift
With automation affecting almost every industry in some way, it’s reasonable to expect that it also will impact material handler functions to a degree. Many material handler tasks can only be done by a person, however.
Sample interview questions
Are you comfortable lifting heavy loads and handling fragile objects?
Is your personal living space typically messy, or do you tend to keep it clean and orderly?
Can you maintain a positive attitude in the face of physical labor and tight time frames?
Do deadlines and quotas intimidate you, or do they motivate you?
If a package were to go missing on your watch, how would you react to that crisis?
How well do you handle supervisor feedback on your performance?
Can you name a time at a previous job when you modified your behavior in order to better satisfy a client and/or employer?
Have you ever ordered a product online or through the mail?
What qualities did you look for, as a customer, during that transaction?
As a material handler, what can you do to assure that the same standard will always be met?