Active work, good benefits, no training required
Watch video: Working at a Target distribution center
From the clothes you buy online to the food you pick up at the grocery store, all the merchandise you buy has spent time in a warehouse. Warehouse employees are responsible for getting the goods from storage facilities (also known as distribution or fulfillment centers) to stores or directly to your home. If you like active work that requires little training to get started, then warehouse work could be for you.

What is Warehouse?

In 2014, Amazon sold 2 billion items worldwide. That's 2 billion products stored inside Amazon's fulfillment centers that were sorted and wrapped by warehouse workers. Source

Warehouse work is a huge industry that includes many different positions. But ultimately everyone is responsible for the same thing: getting the right product to the right person or store at the right time. Here are some of the most common jobs and what they do:

Job Duties Common industries
Order filler
(Also known as: order selector, packager, picker, fulfillment associate)
Select or pack a variety of products into a package or order.
  • Food & Beverage Stores
  • Warehousing and storage
Freight, stock, material movers Move freight, stock, or other materials, usually with a pallet jack or forklift.
  • Warehousing and storage
  • Merchant wholesalers
  • Trucking & transportation
Machine feeders and offbearers Feed into or remove materials from equipement. For example, taking packed boxes off a conveyor belt.
  • Warehousing and storage
  • Printing
Stock clerks Receive and issue materials and equipment from stockroom or warehouse. Keep records and compile stock reports.
  • Warehousing and storage
  • Food & beverage stores
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbooks
A day in the life of a US Foods order selector

Why Warehouse?

Bright Outlook

Nationally, warehouse jobs are expected to grow around 5% from 2016‐2026 which is above average. But some jobs and areas are expected to see even faster growth:

Area Job Projected change 2016‐2026
Oregon Stock clerk 15%
Oregon Order filler 15%
Oregon Freight, stock, material movers 17%
Washington Stock clerk 7%
Washington Order filler 7%
Washington Freight, stock, material movers 11%
Source: Career One Stop

Career Growth Potential

Your career doesn't have to stop at order filler. There's always an opportunity to grow into management positions with higher salaries and more responsibility. A first line supervisor earns up to $116,000 a year. And warehouses generally prefer to promote from within the organization.

No previous training required

Most warehouses provide training on day one and don't require a high school diploma. So, once you find a job, you can get started right away.

Rising Pay

Warehouse associates were among the top nine jobs with the fastest wage growth in 2017, 6.7% median wage increase. Source: CBS News/Glassdoor

The average pay for an order filler in the US is $25,410 a year, but warehouse salaries are growing rapidly. Thanks to heavy demand from online retailers and high turnover rates at warehouses, competition for reliable warehouse workers is fierce. And this has driven salaries up.

More Reasons

Active work. Warehouse workers are on their feet for a 10‐12 hour shift. Some walk up to 15 miles per shift. Sounds exhausting, right? But there are some excellent health benefits associated with being active like reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Some warehouses even start their shifts with calisthenics to limber up.
Part time or full time—your choice. As of 2016, over 2 million Americans worked as order fillers and about 30% of those jobs were part time. So whether you're looking to make extra money while you're in school or have other commitments, warehouse work could be a good part time option.
Good benefits. Many warehouse jobs are part‐time or seasonal. But if you get a full time job at a major company like Walmart or Fred Meyer, you can expect a range of good benefits like health care, paid time off, and a 401(k).

Is Warehouse right for me?

You need a lot of energy to work in a warehouse. Order fillers move very quickly, sometimes work in extreme hot and cold, and are constantly bending and lifting. Sound okay so far? Then ask yourself:

  • Do you want a very physically active job?
  • Can you work a 10‐12 hours shift on your feet?
  • Are you comfortable learning to use machinery like a pallet jack or forklift?
  • Can you deal with extreme hot and cold temperatures (you could be packing food in a freezer)?
  • Are you comfortable using computerized tools like an RFID scanner?

How would I get started in Warehouse?

"Throughout my first week, I learned how to safely operate a forklift, to pick, check and palletize orders... I had no previous experience working in any type of warehouse environment, but I adapted, although it wasn't always easy."
— Taylor Bennet, My Experience Working in a Warehouse

You don't need any formal education for the majority of warehouse jobs. Just listening skills, physical strength, and stamina. Most positions require anywhere from a few days to a few weeks on‐the‐job training, usually with a supervisor or more experienced worker. So you can get started right away.

More Warehouse FAQs

That depends on the company and type of job. Usually you fill out an online application. If you make it past the first stage, you'll be called for either a phone or in‐person interview. The whole process often takes 2‐3 weeks, but that depends on the company.

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