Warehouses are busy venues that store and ship items for retailers, wholesalers, consumer products manufacturers and industrial equipment producers. Warehouses employ many types of workers to ensure proper storage of the merchandise received, and the accuracy and timeliness of receipts and shipments. Salaries for warehouse workers vary, depending on their job titles and experience.
Hand laborers, who transport boxes from warehouse floors or shipping rooms to storage areas, earned $29,630 a year as of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A high school diploma is not required, but some companies may prefer workers who have one. Laborers undergo on-the-job training, and physical strength, good listening skills and strong hand-eye coordination are important qualifications for the job. The BLS estimates an average growth rate for hand laborers and material movers from 2012 to 2022, largely based on anticipated increases in consumer spending.
Forklift operators drive forklift trucks to transport crates of boxes to and from shipping rooms. The average annual salary for forklift operators was $32,170 in 2013, the BLS reported. Eighty-four percent of forklift operators had high school diplomas, according to ONET Online. Most forklift operators have one or more years of experience in warehouses, often starting as hand laborers. It takes dexterity, precision and multi-limb coordination to secure loads from trucks and lift and drive heavy crates around busy warehouses. Other essential requirements are good depth perception and reaction time. ONET forecasts a 3 percent decline in jobs from 2012 to 2022 for industrial tractor and truck operators, as warehouses become more automated.
Shipping and Receiving Clerks
Shipping and receiving clerks examine contents, and review packing slips and shipping invoices as they ship or receive merchandise in warehouses. In 2013, the average salary for a shipping and receiving clerk was $31,210, according to the BLS. They enter the items and number of units into computers to ensure the accuracy of inventory. Warehouses usually prefer hiring shipping and receiving clerks who have high school diplomas. Some warehouse experience is also preferred. Key qualifications for this job are attention to detail, dependability, stress-tolerance, and computer and math skills. ONET predicts little to no change in employment for shipping and receiving clerks from 2012 to 2022.
Storage and Distribution Managers
Storage and distribution managers made an average salary of $83,480 a year, according to 2013 BLS data. Storage and distribution managers select, hire and train warehouse employees, such as shipping and receiving clerks; manage warehouse budgets; and create strategies to improve the timing and efficiency of shipments. They also ensure the safety of all warehouse workers, establish relationships with vendors and determine when vehicles and warehouse buildings need repairing. More than half of all storage and distribution managers had bachelor's degrees. Jobs for storage and distribution managers is expected to increase 3 to 7 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to ONET, as fewer are needed with the technological advances in warehouses.