Warehouse associates are responsible for performing many of the physical tasks that contribute to the smooth operation of their company’s warehouses. They might spend their days moving boxes, packing supplies or inventory into trucks, or loading and unloading vehicles with inventory.
Warehouse associates may also be responsible for maintaining equipment such as conveyor belts or forklift trucks that help move materials throughout the warehouse. They may also be called upon to perform basic repairs or maintenance on these machines when necessary.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a warehouse associate and what it takes to become one yourself.
Warehouse Associate Job Duties
Warehouse associates are responsible for a wide range of duties, such as:
- Receiving and storing incoming goods, such as boxes of new merchandise or supplies for a store
- Scanning items into inventory using a computer system organized by barcode to track the location of each box of merchandise
- Moving inventory from storage to a staging area before it is shipped out to customers
- Packing and shipping orders using a computerized ordering system
- Shipping items to customers via an automated shipping system or by hand, if needed
- Recording information about warehouse inventory levels to help plan for future supply needs
- Scheduling deliveries of incoming shipments to be sure that they arrive on time
- Working with other team members to load trucks with outgoing shipments based on delivery schedules
Warehouse Associate Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for warehouse associates is $40,769. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the wholesale trade industry, and the highest earners of this profession are making over $68,000 per year.
The need for warehouse associates is expected to grow at an average pace over the next decade. As the economy grows and consumer spending increases, companies will need more help with shipping products and processing orders.
Warehouse Associate Job Requirements
The requirements for warehouse associates are as follows:
Education: Most companies require their associates to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This education gives associates the basic communication skills and critical thinking skills necessary to work in this role. To do the job, however, associates must be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment, carrying heavy loads and operating machinery.
Training: Warehouse associate jobs generally require on-the-job training. This training allows warehouse supervisors to give employees the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. During this training, supervisors can teach new employees how to complete all of their duties within a specific time period. They may also teach employees how to operate equipment like forklifts and loaders.
Certification: Warehouse workers may need to be certified by OSHA if they use certain equipment. Some employers may require forklift certification.
Warehouse Associate Skills
The following skills are required for this job:
Organizational skills: Warehouse associates must be able to organize the incoming and outgoing inventory of items.
Ability to stand for long periods of time: This is a physically demanding job that requires long hours on your feet.
Knowledge of safety procedures: Warehouse associates must know how to follow safety procedures in order to avoid accidents on the job site.
Physical stamina: Warehouse associates must have good physical stamina because they often have to lift heavy boxes, work long hours, and stand for extended periods of time.
Strong communication skills: Warehouse associates must be able to communicate well with customers, co-workers, and management.
Problem-solving skills: Warehouse associates must solve problems quickly and accurately in order to help customers get their orders filled correctly and quickly.
Warehouse Associate Work Environment
Warehouse workers typically spend their workday on their feet, moving around the warehouse. They often focus on one or two tasks throughout the day, such as loading or unloading trucks, stacking packages onto pallets, and pulling inventory for delivery personnel.
Some warehouses are noisy, with potentially dangerous equipment that operates continuously. The work may be physically demanding, requiring lifting heavy boxes, running between locations, and working in difficult weather conditions.
Overtime is common during busy seasons. Many warehouses operate on a 24-hour basis and will admit workers at all hours of the day and night. Part-time jobs and jobs with flexible schedules usually exist.
Warehouse Associate Career Path
The first two years on the job are a process of learning. Associates become familiar with their employers’ standards and procedures and must learn how to use various types of equipment. The hours are long, but new employees receive some benefits, such as paid holidays and vacations, insurance, and a retirement plan. About half of the new associates who get hired leave their jobs in the first year, either because of lack of advancement or lack of interest.
Five Years On The Job
In these years, warehouse associates often assume supervisory responsibilities over more junior workers, who they will train to do the job right. Associates may have to work on evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. Benefits increase with seniority; some firms pay for tuition toward an advanced degree or pay retirement fund contributions on behalf of employees. In some companies, managers take pride in promoting from within, so warehouse jobs can lead to substantial advancement.
Ten Years On The Job
Ten-year veterans are responsible for overseeing several warehouses’ operations. They supervise large groups of people and handle budgets for those under their charge. They may supervise outside vendors who operate warehouses for them or oversee parts of the production process involving large amounts of inventory or complicated transportation arrangements. Ten-year veterans usually feel satisfied with their jobs; they see themselves as having achieved promotion potential within the company and expect to continue moving up through supervisory positions within it. Most also feel that their jobs are important to the company’s well-being and its success in serving customers.
Warehouse Associate Trends
Here are three trends influencing how warehouse associates work. Warehouse associates will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
High Importance of Data Analytics
Many warehouse and supply chain managers are now investing in tools that help them track and optimize the performance of their teams.
This trend is likely to increase as warehouse and supply chain managers become more aware of the value of data analytics and how it can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs, ultimately saving money for businesses and increasing profit margins.
Increased Importance of Automation
Warehouse workers have historically relied on physical strength and endurance to perform their jobs, but automation is making this aspect of the job less relevant.
As companies move towards automated solutions for tasks like moving boxes around or lifting them into place, warehouse workers will need to focus on more specialized skills that can’t be automated.
Increase in E-Commerce
While traditional retail jobs are seeing a decline, jobs within the e-commerce industry are growing rapidly.
Today, online sales have reached an all-time high of 8.5% of total retail sales in the United States, up from 7.7% last year.
This means that warehouse associates will have to work more efficiently to keep up with an increasing demand for products.
How to Become a Warehouse Associate
1. Planning Your Career
Warehouse workers are the unsung heroes of e-commerce. Without their efforts, products would never reach customers’ doorsteps in a timely manner. Warehouse associates must be able to efficiently organize and move large quantities of inventory; if you enjoy problem solving and working with your hands, this might be the job for you.
As is true with many warehouse jobs, it is important to have strong physical endurance for this position. Strong lifting skills will come in handy when moving boxes, so take advantage of free weights at the gym or at home to build up your strength.
In addition to being physically fit, successful warehouse workers also need to be able to follow instructions and pay attention to detail. Warehouse work can get repetitive, so having the ability to stay focused on the task at hand is critical.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for warehouse associates emphasize their physical abilities, problem solving skills, and strong work ethic. To highlight your problem solving skills, it is useful to provide brief examples of situations where you had to think on your feet and improvise. For instance, if there was a problem with a client delivery or a discrepancy in inventory, be sure to include these examples. When describing your previous job experience, be sure to give specific details such as what equipment you used and how many people you supervised during peak hours.
3. Applying for Jobs
Reaching out to a recruiting agency that specializes in warehouse positions can be the most effective way to make yourself visible to employers. You can also search directly on job boards, LinkedIn, and other online job portals. Look out for both large distribution centers near you and small companies that may need someone to manage a smaller operation.
Remember that the ideal application will include your resume, cover letter, references, and any additional materials that might be necessary (e.g. copies of certifications or licenses). To be sure that you are hitting all of the right points in your application, look over job descriptions carefully and tailor your application materials accordingly.
4. Ace the Interview
When you’re preparing for a warehouse associate interview, it is important to review the job description for the position and research the company’s website. The interviewer will want to know whether you have knowledge of the duties and responsibilities associated with the job as well as your interest in working for this particular company.
Be sure to be confident and enthusiastic throughout your interview, as those qualities will help you build rapport with your interviewer. Answer questions directly and concisely, and do not be afraid to elaborate when the interviewer asks follow-up questions. Be sure that any information that you include in your resume or cover letter is included in your answers as well—this will help reinforce the points that you are trying to make.