When you typically think of any company, your mind probably goes to a memory of its physical store, or perhaps, its customer website if it is an online retailer. Just as important as the store itself, however, is the warehouse.
While stores are where customers go to get the items and goods they need, these stores first get their supplies from a much larger warehouse that typically supplies items to several stores within the city, state, or even region. Warehouses play the critical behind-the-scenes part of the business world.
Of course, a warehouse can’t be run without workers. So, while warehouse jobs might not jump to the forefront of your mind when you think of potential employment with a large company, you definitely should not neglect this area of employment. Millions of Americans work in warehouses, and they typically earn a higher wage than their retail counterparts, too.
Think a warehouse job might be right for you? Below, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know about what’s typically expected in a warehouse position, as well as popular sources of employment and tips on how to land the job.
What Do You Do in a Warehouse Job?
General Overview of Roles and Responsibilities
So, what do you actually do when you work in a warehouse?
A large portion of your responsibilities will be geared toward the receiving and sending of stock. The goods inside the warehouse don’t just magically appear. Just as how stores get their supplies from warehouses, warehouses get their items from the company’s various suppliers, which can sometimes be quite numerous.
Most warehouses hold hundreds if not thousands of different products. With so many different items, it would be easy for things to quickly devolve into chaos. That’s why order and organization is so highly important to the functional operation of a warehouse. When a shipment comes in, the warehouse workers ensure that it is given the proper identification number and stored exactly where it should be.
Things are only meant to stay within the physical space of the warehouse for so long, however. Soon after items arrive, they will likely be divided up and shipped to their appropriate stores. It is therefore also the role of the warehouse worker to ensure that these items get where they’re going.
Since items typically arrive from suppliers in bulk, these large groupings must be broken up into smaller segments appropriate for each store’s delivery load. Therefore, warehouse jobs entail the splitting up and packing of goods, including the necessary divisions of them all into each store’s load.
A large part of all this organizing, storing, division, and packing is the lifting and carrying of these items themselves. Depending on the types of goods and how they are stored and delivered, a forklift may sometimes be used in their transport. More often than not, however, you’ll be putting some good old-fashioned back power into your work.
Aside from this physical aspect of the job is the organizational aspect that keeps everything running smoothly. When you work in a warehouse, you’ll likely play a role in keeping track of the organizational system, printing stock requests, and sometimes even counting the physical inventory.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a job that requires both mental and physical work, a warehouse job might be right for you.
Compensation and Hours
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how warehouse jobs typically function, let’s get into what we know you’re really interested in: the pay.
Warehouse workers are typically paid hourly rather than salaried. The national average of this hourly rate is $13.50, roughly 30% higher than the average retail position, which pays $10.09 per hour. This rate is considerably higher than the minimum wage in some states.
This pay rate varies, of course, and is largely dependent upon region, company, and experience level/years worked with the company.
As for hours, employees will typically work sometime between the hours of 6 am and 5 pm, though this is not a set in stone range. Rather than later, however, it is far more likely that employees will work earlier, sometimes starting shifts at 4:30 am or earlier.
Shifts will typically last somewhere between 8-10 hours, though warehouse jobs are also typically accommodating for their employees that need to work part-time hours. Many employees also choose to work longer 12-hour days and so only work three or four days a week.
f you’re looking for a seasonal job, warehouses are a great place to look. Retail, in general, is typically busier than ever during the holiday season, so more workers are necessary. This is especially true of shipping companies like Amazon and UPS.
You now know what they are how they pay, but what are the actual requirements of warehouse jobs?
For starters, you must be 18 years or older—this likely has to do with liability issues concerning the physical nature of the job.
Speaking of physique, the other key requirements revolve around how you can handle physical exertion. Mainly, that you must be able to remain on your feet for 8-10 hours a day, and you must be able to lift and carry at least 50 pounds.
These are the basic requirements of most warehouse jobs—different companies may impose their own standards and desires.
Popular Companies with Warehouse Jobs
Warehouses are a necessary part of almost all businesses and companies that provide retail or item distribution services. Listed below are some of the largest companies that can be found nationwide and that you can typically expect to find warehouse jobs with.
Shipping companies perhaps the largest warehouse of all. Companies such as UPS, FedEx, and Amazon deliver packages throughout the nation and the world at large, and they, therefore, need a place to stow them as the items make their way from point A to point B.
Furniture stores are sometimes even generally referred to furniture warehouses themselves. Behind the polished front of the customer store, many furniture establishments actually house their own warehouse right in the back. This is especially apparent in companies such as IKEA.
And then, of course, there’s traditional retail. From more general stores such as Target to more specified clothing stores like Urban Outfitters, warehouses are a necessary part of product storage and distribution, and you’ll find many warehouse jobs for these types of establishments.
Warehouses are especially important for large online retailers. Because they have no physical store, warehouses will often serve as the sole home of the items between their delivery from the suppliers to their new owners. Amazon again makes an appearance here, as both a shipping company and an online retailer.
Interview Questions to Expect When You Apply for a Warehouse Job
Once you’ve found the company (or even companies) that you would like to work for applied to their open positions, the next step is to hope for an interview. When that interview is granted, as with any job, you must do all that is in your power to put your best foot forward.
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is, of course, to make yourself knowledgeable about the company and the position, so that you can demonstrate that you actually know and care about what you’ll be doing. The next is to prepare for interview questions.
By prepping for interview questions, you can be sure that your mind won’t go blank at the inopportune moment and that you can show off the best side of yourself. You, of course, don’t want to sound too rehearsed and thereby disrupt the flow of natural conversation, but it will certainly help to have a few talking points in mind.
To help you prepare for the big interview, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common interview questions asked by many of the largest companies out there when interviewing individuals for warehouse jobs. You’ll find them below:
Name a time you observed or were involved in a safety-related situation.
How well can you handle long hours? (12- or 10-hour shifts)
Are you able to lift 50 pounds?
Tell us about a time you made a mistake at work and how did you recover?
Any previous warehouse experience?
What did you least like about your former position? Why should we hire you?
What does inventory shrinkage mean to you?
Can you start tomorrow?
What hours are you available to work?
Why do you want to work here?
Can you drive a forklift?
These are, of course, simply a sampling of the possible interview questions you could be asked. The actual questions you wind up answering will vary based on the company you apply to and the individual who is conducting the interview.
Nevertheless, practicing for these types of general questions will not only ensure you have things to say, but also the confidence to say them. You’ll soon be on your way to working from your pick of warehouse jobs!