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What is a Material Handler?


What is a material handler’s job description?

A Material Handler is a warehouse associate that is responsible for handling, moving, and storing varying kinds of materials. They may also load and unload delivery items, maintain and record inventory, clean machinery and keep loading and docking areas clear.

Material Handlers play an essential role in logistics and the supply chain as they work to get products from the companies that make them to the consumers that need them.

What is a Material Handler’s Salary?

Salaries can vary significantly based on multiple factors, but in general, the hourly pay will range from $14/hr up to $21/hr, with the national average being around $17/hr. While, yearly income rates will range from $29,600 up to $44,500, with the national average being around $36,000.

Some of the factors that can contribute to the earning potential of material handlers are location and experience. Alaska, Washington D.C., and California currently offer the highest average wages.

What does a material handler do?​

One potential benefit to working as a material handler is the amount of different tasks they accomplish throughout their work weeks. Those tasks can include:

  • upkeep and maintenance on moving equipment
  • labeling and sorting products as they come in and get prepped to leave
  • determining the accuracy of incoming shipments
  • maintaining accurate inventory documentation and finding any missing products
  • moving and storing products in different locations throughout the warehouse
  • loading and unloading products to be stored or shipped

Material Handlers enjoy an active work environment where they are continually on their feet and using their hands and moving equipment to send products throughout the warehouse. You will need to be able to stand most of your shift as well as move, rotate, and carry heavy items. Job descriptions will provide the specifics around what the weight you need to be able to lift.

How to become a material handler

Most Material Handler positions will require an applicant to have a High School Diploma. If you are looking for entry level positions, that is most likely the biggest requirement you will have to meet. Entry level positions will be trained on the job, so don’t let you lack of work history stop you from pursuing those types of positions.

Higher paying Material Handler positions will require proven work history and the skills you developed in those positions. You may also need to show that you can lead a shift of other workers and that you have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with others.

Interested in looking for open Material Handler positions near you?

Material handlers career path

A potential career path for a Material Handler could look something like this:

  1. Material handler – contribute to the teams work
  2. Shift supervisor – supervise your team during your shift
  3. Team leader – lead the entire team, including the shifts you do not work
  4. Operations manager – oversee the operations for your department
  5. Warehouse supervisor – supervise the operations of the entire warehouse and manage the leaders of each department

This particular career path won’t be for everyone. Some Material Handlers will gain certification in fork-lift driving to forge their career in that area. Others may pursue gaining their CDL so they can drive the trucks that carry products across the country, instead of loading and unloading them. Others still will use their Material Handler position as a way to get into a company’s culture and find a new role working in the office and business side of the company.

The point is this, being a Material Handler provides you with the opportunity to learn skills vital to the success of any warehouse, gives you a great view of all that it takes for logistics to run smoothly, and gives you multiple options for career advancement.

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