Freight handlers are laborers who handle goods. They play a pivotal role in the economy as they help transport products or raw materials from one point to the next. There is little or no projected growth for freight handlers through 2016.
Freight handlers move freight, stock and other materials and often perform other unskilled labor. Freight handlers may attach identifying labels or mark them with information. They must be able to interpret instruction in a verbal or written manner. They also have to record numbers of units handled. They work with tools, such as dollies, forklifts, hand trucks, jacks, pallet trucks or wrapping machinery. They also may work with computers, such as data entry software or industry management software.
Freight handlers must have physical strength and coordination. They spend long periods of time standing. They may be required to make decisions or solve problems. Freight handlers must be able to work in a group or a team and have the ability to communicate clearly with one another, through verbal or written communication. They must be able to meet deadlines.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), freight handlers "move freight materials to and from storage and production areas." Freight handlers are found in transportation industries, such as airlines, shipping, and railroad companies. They may work specifically as baggage or cargo handlers or truck loaders and unloaders. Their specific duties differ, according to work setting or industry. They may also work in warehouses or storage areas. Freight handlers generally work eight-hour shifts, but longer shifts are not uncommon, especially if they work within an around the clock industry. Freight handlers are susceptible to physical injury, since most of the job involves carrying large or heavy materials. As a safety precaution, they are required to wear safety clothing, such as gloves and hard hats.
Freight handler positions often require little or no formal training. Informal training is typically conducted on the job by a more experienced worker or supervisor. Since freight handlers require physical exertion, a physical examination is usually administered. Other tests that may be required is a drug test or background check. As for education, some employers seek a high school diploma or its equivalent. Other employers only require that the employee is 18 years old and physically able to do the work.
According to a BLS 2008 report, the national mean wage for the career cataloged as "Laborers and freight, stock and material movers" is $11.87 per hour, while the annual mean wage is $24,690. The national annual wage ranges from $16,110 to $37,150.