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How do I Become a Warehouse Assistant?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Warehouse assistants perform a variety of tasks in distribution centers, storage facilities, and large standalone retail product warehouses. They store and retrieve items, take inventory, prepare shipments, and clean facilities. The education and training requirements to become a warehouse assistant can vary depending on the setting, but most people are able find jobs with high school diplomas and little or no previous work experience.

In general, a person who wants to become a warehouse assistant needs to be in good physical shape. Walking, bending, and lifting are regular elements of the job, and it is important to be fit enough to accomplish daily tasks without getting injured or taking frequent breaks. Good vision with or without the aid of glasses is essential in order to accurately read order forms and quickly find items. In addition, warehouse assistants usually need strong basic math skills to take inventory and calculate weights and quantities of incoming and outgoing shipments. Finally, an individual must be able to communicate effectively with coworkers, truck drivers, and managers to ensure efficient operations.

Forklift training and certification are often needed to become a warehouse assistant in some facilities. Many companies provide training to new workers in their first few weeks of employment, but obtaining certification beforehand can significantly improve a person's chances of finding work. Many organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the United States offer in-person, correspondence, and online training courses and exams.

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An individual who believes he or she is qualified to become a warehouse assistant can look for job openings by browsing newspaper ads, visiting job search websites, and talking to current warehouse workers. It is important to put together a professional-looking resume when applying for jobs to maximize the chances of landing an interview. During an interview, a person should be honest about his or her abilities and experience. An interviewee who speaks confidently and shows real interest in the job is likely to be rewarded with an entry-level position.

Once a person is able to become a warehouse assistant, he or she can expect to spend one to two weeks in training. Experienced workers can explain policies and demonstrate procedures. Some warehouses require new assistants to be work under close supervision or probation for several weeks to make sure they can handle the responsibilities of the job. With ongoing experience and proven skills, an assistant may be able to become a warehouse manager or obtain an administrative office position.

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starrynight
Post 7

@ceilingcat - A friend of mine worked in a warehouse right out of high school with no college education completed! She wasn't particularly muscular, but she was still able to get the warehouse job.

I believe she drove a forklift most of the time. After she learned, she said it was a lot of fun! One thing she really like though, was not having to deal with customers!

ceilingcat
Post 6

@nony - I read about those protests too, and they were protesting a lot more than lifting heavy boxes. I believe they were subjected to some fairly unacceptable working conditions and required to work very long hours. They were also told they were participating in a cultural exchange program!

Protests aside, I'm glad to hear there are still some decently paying jobs you can get with just a high school education. These days it seems like even having a bachelors degree isn't enough! It's refreshing to hear about a job that doesn't involve retail that you can do with just a high school diploma.

OceanSwimmer
Post 5

I'm probably getting in this conversation at the end but I wanted to contribute my opinion. My son is 17 years old. He attends Alabama School for the Blind due to a visual impairment. For the past two summers, he has worked as a warehouse assistant, even with his visual disability.

I don't think that anyone is discriminated against for their disability or the amount of weight that they can lift. My son has learned a lot about warehouse work and had no problems while working there. He knew he could do the job before he applied.

I agree with NathanG. Before you apply for a job, you should have all of the information about the specific duties

expected of you. If those duties, such as lifting heavy boxes, are not something that you can do, apply somewhere else. There were recently a couple of postings for warehouse supervisor jobs posted in our local paper. I'm sure that whoever applies will know what is expected of them before they walk in.
NathanG
Post 4

@nony - Sorry, I can’t offer much sympathy for these kids. Everyone needs to start somewhere and I am sure that there would be plenty of people who would be happy to take those jobs – especially if there is high unemployment in that area.

I don’t believe stipulating that you need to be able to lift heavy boxes is a form of discrimination; it’s just a statement of the facts on the ground.

If you can’t do the job, don’t apply. There are other jobs with comparable wages, in my opinion, that don’t involve heavy lifting.

nony
Post 3

@NathanG - Let me ask more of a philosophical question in this regard. Do you think that the restriction about having certain physical brawn, as you say, represents a form of discrimination?

The reason I ask is that I heard a story in the news about foreign exchange students who worked in a warehouse for a popular candy company in America. Many of these exchange students were from Asia; as such, they had smaller physical builds.

Well, they wound up lifting boxes that were about half their weight in some situations. Do you know what they did? They took to the streets, picketing.

I’m not sure what they were demanding: lighter boxes, better wages, I have no idea. But somehow they felt more entitled so they started protesting.

NathanG
Post 2

@Charred - Actually the hourly wages depend on what part of the country you live in and for whom you work.

If you work for a major nationwide distribution center, I think that you can make well above minimum wage, and you may even be eligible for benefits.

However you are correct that you need some physical brawn and you probably need to be willing to work various shifts.

Charred
Post 1

Warehouse jobs are certainly not for everybody. The physical demands can be quite strenuous. I never worked in a warehouse myself but I knew a guy who did, and he did a lot of heavy lifting of boxes and also worked the forklift a couple of times a week.

That being said, this guy had a pretty heavy build and worked out regularly lifting weights. My problem is that I’ve spent most of my career working cushy jobs in front of a computer and getting soft in the process.

However, I do think that warehouse jobs are ideal entry level jobs for people just joining the workforce; from what I understand the hourly wages are quite good too.

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