Material Handler

Being a material handler is the ideal career for someone who likes to be active while also keeping the wheels of the economy churning. A material handler works in production facilities, warehouses and other similar places in a fast-paced environment.

During the typical workday, a material handler can expect to be moving and on their feet for much of their working time. They must be able to lift a certain weight quickly and easily enough to meet the requirements of the company. In some cases, a material handler will work with sensors, machines or other types of automated devices in order to fulfill orders. This is especially true for large companies that maintain huge warehouses in order to efficiently meet the demands of their customers. 

Material Handlers Keep the Economy Moving

Because they are a vital connection between manufacturers and consumers, material handlers might unload trucks or shipping containers before putting the products or materials on the correct shelf location. A material handler might also find a particular material or product on its shelf and properly wrap it for shipping and delivery before putting it on the correct delivery truck. Picking up products that aren’t wanted from homes or businesses and keeping vehicles clean are examples of other job duties that a material handler might perform during a typical workday. 

In most cases, individuals working as a material handler work full time. Because materials are shipped 24 hours a day, some employers offer overnight shifts and/or overtime hours and pay while others might require this type of commitment from its employees. 

Requirements to Become a Material Handler

In most cases, companies don’t require material handlers to have any college. Some employers, though, might state in their job listing that they prefer an applicant that is a high school graduate or the holder of a GED. On-the-job training ensures that each material handler has the knowledge needed to follow that particular company’s established methods. 

Individuals interested in becoming a material handler will also need to have good listening and comprehension skills. They’ll need to listen to the orders they need to fulfill and comprehend the right brands, sizes and amounts so they’ll be able to fill the orders quickly and precisely. 

Because a material handler is a fast-paced working environment, an individual needs a great deal of strength to quickly move boxes and other types of materials from one place to another. Stamina is another key element that a material handler must have. 

Outlook for Material Handlers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), material handlers are expected to experience growth of about seven percent from 2016 to 2026. This rate is about as fast as average. The demand for individuals in this career should remain strong because new employees will be needed to replace those who are retiring or moving to different jobs. This translates into an additional 271,700 material handlers needed by the year 2026. 

Jobs That are Similar to Material Handlers

Hand laborers, material movers, dock workers and forklift operator are some examples of different names that employers might call material handlers, depending on the industry and their particular needs. In some cases, such as with forklift operators, additional training might be required, but this is often provided by the employer on-site.

Similar jobs include delivery truck driver and salesperson, construction laborer and helper, water transportation worker, tractor-trailer driver, material recording clerk and material moving operator. Again, some of these jobs could require additional training or certification in order to meet legal requirements. In some cases, for example, a tractor-trailer driver is required to hold a commercial drivers license (CDL) in order to meet the minimum job standards that the local or federal government has in place for that particular type of career. 

Salary for Material Handlers

According to the BLS, in May 2018, the median wage for material handlers was $27,270 annually. Regional differences throughout the country could affect this amount though.

There could also be the potential for advancement and raises. For example, a material handler might experience an increase in pay if he or she undergoes forklift training offered by the employer. In other cases, there could be different grades of material handlers, such as senior level, that a person can be promoted to. 

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