Career Development

What Does a Material Handler Do?

Find out what a material handler does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a material handler.

Material handlers are responsible for moving large quantities of goods from one place to another. They commonly work in warehouses or shipping yards, where they use forklifts and other equipment to load and unload trucks with valuable cargo.

Material handlers must be able to read instructions and follow protocols precisely. They also need to have a strong understanding of how to safely operate heavy machinery such as forklifts.

Material Handler Job Duties

Material handlers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Organizing materials according to their location in the warehouse or shipping facility
  • Moving materials from one location to another using hand trucks, forklifts, pallet jacks, or other equipment
  • Communicating with warehouse managers about orders that require special attention to ensure timely delivery of goods
  • Keeping records of daily inventory levels of materials stored in the warehouse
  • Ensuring that all materials are stored in a safe, organized manner to prevent damage or loss
  • Performing physical labor such as lifting heavy boxes or crates weighing up to 100 pounds
  • Delivering materials directly to customers’ houses or businesses using a company vehicle
  • Communicating with suppliers to arrange delivery of new products
  • Operating forklifts to move large stacks of boxes or pallets around the warehouse

Material Handler Salary & Outlook

The salary of a material handler can vary depending on their level of experience, the company size, and the industry of the company. Material handlers may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,500 ($15.14/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $49,500 ($23.8/hour)

The employment of material handlers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for material handlers depends largely on the overall state of the economy. As overall demand for goods and services increases, more material will be shipped to factories, warehouses, and retail stores. In addition, automation may lead to an increase in the amount of material that each material handler needs to move.

Material Handler Job Requirements

A material handler typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most material handlers are required to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed a post-secondary program in logistics, warehousing or material handling.

Training & Experience: Material handlers typically receive on-the-job training. This training may last for a few weeks or a few months, depending on the company and the material handler’s experience. During this training, the material handler will learn about the company’s policies and procedures, safety practices, how to use the equipment and how to complete daily tasks.

Certifications & Licenses: Candidates can increase their qualifications by earning a forklift operation certification or other specialty driver’s licenses. Some common certifications for material handlers also involve safety protocols.

Material Handler Skills

Material handlers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Inventory management: As a material handler, you may be responsible for keeping track of inventory and ensuring that the right materials are in the right place at the right time. This requires attention to detail and the ability to manage inventory. You may also be responsible for ordering new materials when inventory runs low.

Communication: Material handlers often work in teams with other employees, so it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with them. You may need to relay information to your team about the location of a certain product or the amount of time you need to complete a task. You can also use communication skills to ask questions and learn from your team members.

Attention to detail: Material handlers need to be able to pay close attention to detail when recording inventory and sorting products. This is because they need to ensure they place the correct products in the correct bins. This is important to ensure the company doesn’t receive the wrong products and that the products are stored in the right place.

Physical stamina: Material handlers often lift and move heavy objects, so physical stamina is an important skill for this job. Stamina can help you work longer shifts and complete more tasks.

Computer skills: Material handlers may use computers to enter data, track inventory and complete other tasks. Having computer skills can help you learn new software and technology that your employer may implement.

Material Handler Work Environment

Material handlers typically work in warehouses, factories, or other industrial and commercial settings. They may be required to lift heavy objects, operate machinery, and work in difficult or dangerous positions. Some material handlers may work outdoors in all weather conditions. The work can be physically demanding and may require long hours, overtime, and shift work. Material handlers typically work full time and may have to work weekends and holidays.

Material Handler Trends

Here are three trends influencing how material handlers work. Material handlers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Automation

The use of automation is becoming increasingly common in the workplace, as businesses look for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. This trend is having a significant impact on the material handling industry, as more and more companies are turning to automated solutions to move their products.

Material handlers can stay ahead of the curve by learning how to operate and maintain these systems. In addition, they should focus on developing skills that will make them more valuable to employers, such as customer service or sales.

More Collaboration Between Supply Chain and Logistics Teams

As supply chains and logistics teams become more collaborative, material handlers will need to be able to work well with others.

This trend is being driven by the increasing complexity of supply chains, which requires all members of the team to work together in order to ensure that products are delivered on time and without error. Material handlers can capitalize on this trend by developing strong communication and collaboration skills.

Greater Focus on Green Initiatives

Green initiatives are becoming increasingly popular among businesses, as they are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. This is leading to an increased focus on recycling and other environmentally-friendly practices.

Material handlers can take advantage of this trend by becoming experts in recycling and waste management. They can also help to promote green initiatives within their company by educating coworkers about the benefits of recycling and composting.

How to Become a Material Handler

There are many different paths you can take to become a material handler. You could start off as a warehouse worker and work your way up the ranks, or you could get certified in order to move into a supervisory role. You could also choose to specialize in a particular area of material handling, such as shipping and receiving, order picking, or materials management.

No matter which path you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and developments. Read industry publications, attend conferences and webinars, and connect with other professionals online. This will help you keep pace with the changing world of material handling and ensure that you have a long and successful career.

Related: How to Write a Material Handler Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many opportunities for advancement for material handlers. With experience, they may move into supervisory or management positions, or they may become lead workers responsible for a team of material handlers. Some material handlers may become certified forklift operators or other specialized equipment operators. With further education and training, material handlers may become industrial engineers, purchasing managers, or transportation managers.

Material Handler Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are looking for a detail-oriented and hardworking material handler to join our team. The ideal candidate will have experience working in a warehouse or manufacturing environment and be able to lift heavy objects. He or she will be responsible for receiving and stocking materials, as well as loading and unloading trucks. The material handler will also be responsible for keeping the warehouse clean and organized.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Unload inbound shipments safely and move product to storage locations
  • Efficiently pick customer orders for shipment, ensuring that the correct products are selected and carefully packaged for safe delivery
  • Load outbound trucks according to shipping schedules, while following all company safety regulations
  • Report any discrepancies or damaged product to a supervisor
  • Conduct regular inventory of all products in stock, and report any shortages to a supervisor
  • Keep work areas clean and organized at all times
  • Follow all company policies and procedures
  • Adhere to all safety standards
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to work well with others

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience as a material handler or warehouse worker
  • Forklift certification
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to lift heavy objects
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree in logistics, business administration, or related field
  • 1-2 years of supervisory experience
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems
  • Working knowledge of ERP/MRP systems
  • Bilingualism

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