what is a material handler?

As a material handler, your responsibilities span numerous warehouse areas. You primarily are responsible for shipping and receiving goods, stocking shelves, retrieving stock as orders are placed, packaging goods, and loading vehicles. You are also responsible for processing returns and restocking the correct shelving when the warehouse receives products.

Typically, forklift, pallet vehicle, and stacker operators hold valid licenses. You are responsible for adhering to all safety procedures, using the equipment effectively, and performing routine maintenance checks to keep it in working order.

If a parcel is damaged during shipment, you and the office collaborate to resolve the problem and issue a refund or replacement shipment. In addition, you document issues such as unanticipated deliveries and missing inventory. You also keep the workplace free of clutter and other potential safety hazards. After your duties, you clean the area by sweeping, dusting, arranging the shelves, and storing the equipment.

Would working as a material handler suit your skill or interest? Then read on to discover what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a material handler role.

view jobs near you

average material handler salary

Material handler salaries in the United States vary depending on criteria, including location, years of experience, and the industry in which one works. Material handlers earn a median yearly salary of $30,320 with the lowest 10% earning less than $23,560 and the highest 10% earning more than $46,930, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Your expertise and experience determine your pay as a material handler. Although companies do not typically require postsecondary education, it does give you an edge in the job market. For instance, if you have a forklift license, you can negotiate a higher wage — your potential salary rises as you gain work experience. Most material handling jobs are beyond the knowledge and expertise of newly hired workers. However, with over five years under your belt, you deserve a raise.

The size of the company and the industry in which it operates are other factors. For instance, the complexity of a job in a busy industry hub can result in a better salary than a job in a small warehouse.

Would you like to know what a material handler earns? Where the highest salaries are paid to material handlers? Then check out this salary page and find out all about the salary of a material handler in the USA.

three people talking
three people talking

types of material handlers

As a material handler, you are classified according to the materials you handle. There are various types of material handlers, including:

  • manual material handlers: Your responsibility involves manually loading, unloading, and transporting materials in a warehouse or industrial environment.
  • forklift operators: Your role as a forklift operator revolves around moving materials within a warehouse using specialized equipment designed for lifting and transporting heavy objects.

working as a material handler

As a material handler, you must multitask and work well with others to complete your work on time. Below are the required skills, typical projects, and potential advancement opportunities for you as a material handler.


material handler skills and education

A formal bachelor's degree is not required to pursue a career as a material handler. Instead, acquiring specific qualifications and training is emphasized. Typically, you are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge through on-the-job instruction. Nevertheless, there are prerequisites and requirements to consider.

You must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid driver's license. Depending on the specific job requirements, a commercial driver's license may be required. In addition, you must pass a physical examination to ensure you fulfill the position's needs.

A license is required to handle potentially dangerous substances, which is the case when handling hazardous materials. Additionally, voluntary certifications such as the OSHA Safety and Health Fundamentals Certificate program or the Certified Supply Chain Professional certificate  are accessible in the field, allowing you to enhance your professional standing and to demonstrate your expertise.

Material handlers can benefit from continuing education programs and courses because they provide skills development opportunities and remain abreast of the latest industry standards. These programs include warehouse management, logistics, and supply chain operations.

By focusing on acquiring the required licenses, certifications, and on-the-job experience, you can enter the material handling profession and investigate avenues for advancement. This includes specialized certifications that can expand your career opportunities within the industry.

skills and competencies

To excel as a material handler, there are vital skills and competencies you should possess:

  • effective communication: As a material handler, your ability to communicate with your team, suppliers, and supervisors is crucial.
  • problem-solving aptitude: Challenges may arise from miscommunication or improper storage, requiring your problem-solving skills to address and resolve issues efficiently.
  • physical prowess: Manual material handling and machine operation require physical stamina and capabilities.

FAQs about working as a material handler

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about material handlers.

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.