Learn About Being an Inventory Specialist
Updated January 26, 2023
What does an inventory specialist do?
An inventory specialist is a supervisory stocking and inventory management role for retail or a department store. Some of the duties inventory specialists typically have are:
Conducting inventory counting processes to ensure a shipment’s accuracy
Evaluating and managing stock rotation procedures
Maintaining inventory storage space in the store’s warehouse
Training store staff in stocking procedures and product dating methods
Planing store warehouse space usage
Placing inventory restock orders
Communicating with store management about any inventory issues that arise if products are missing or damaged within a shipment
Managing and maintaining inventory records using an inventory management software system
Inventory specialists are typically paid on an hourly basis, but some businesses do pay their inventory specialists a salary. The exact wage of an inventory specialist will depend on the employee’s prior experience working in a warehouse or with logistics, where the store’s location is and what company they’re working for.
Common salary in the U.S.: $14.58 per hour
Some salaries range from $7.25 to $27.30 per hour.
Inventory specialist requirements
Becoming an inventory specialist may involve a combination of the following:
Inventory specialists are almost always required to have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent. Post-secondary education is not required for an inventory specialist to acquire their position, but an employer may have a hiring preference for a candidate with a stronger academic history. Earning an Associate’s Degree in Logistics or a related field can provide a route for an inventory specialist to seek advancement in their career path.
Inventory specialists receive between two and four weeks of on-the-job training when they start their position. This training is to educate the inventory specialist on specific store policies and to familiarize the inventory specialist with the store’s stocking procedures and the inventory management software used by the store. Inventory specialists who earn their position as a promotion from a stocker position at the same location may be able to skip some or all of this training. Generally, employers hiring inventory specialists prefer that their candidates have prior experience working with inventory management.
Inventory specialists do not require any certifications to earn their position. However, some certifications can help an inventory specialist advance through the logistics career path. The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) offers a number of useful optional certifications to help an inventory specialist grow their inventory management experience into a career working in logistics and supply chain management.
Additionally, an inventory specialist holding a valid license to operate a forklift will be a much more competitive candidate during the hiring process. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers examinations and courses to earn a forklift license for professionals in all industries.
Some of the most important skills for an inventory specialist to master are:
An inventory specialist will spend much of their time working with inventory management spreadsheets and software. They will be comparing shipment costs and numbers with a store’s budget and will be required to balance several different financial and storage factors when determining how to organize a store’s warehouse and how much inventory to order.
One of an inventory specialist’s primary responsibilities is to determine how a store’s inventory warehouse is arranged and how products are cycled and purchased periodically for the store. An organized inventory specialist will have the skills required to complete these tasks swiftly and efficiently.
The inventory specialist is a supervisory position over the inventory and stocking team. An inventory specialist with strong leadership skills can motivate their stockers and inventory managers and represent their collective interests when communicating with a company’s management.
The inventory specialist is the key user of the store’s inventory management software. An inventory specialist uses this software for almost every aspect of their role, from determining order quantities to maintaining a store’s inventory budget. Having strong computer skills will enable an inventory specialist to use their software to its greatest extent.
Inventory specialists spend large portions of their shifts moving throughout the warehouse and assisting stockers in maneuvering inventory shipments to the store’s sales floor. Spending extended periods of time assisting the inventory team with shipment rotation requires that an inventory specialist has significant physical stamina.
Inventory specialist work environment
Inventory specialists typically work in larger retail and department stores. An inventory specialist will spend most of their shift moving around the store’s warehouse area and supervising stockers as they maneuver product to the sales floor, logging shipment information and product details as they inspect the warehouse contents.
An inventory specialist will then take this shipment and warehouse data to their computer, where they log it in their inventory management software and begin to determine what products will need restocking during the next shipment cycle. Depending on the size of a store’s warehouse and whether they have a license, an inventory specialist may also spend portions of their shift operating a forklift to make maneuvering large quantities of product in the warehouse easier.
Inventory specialists typically work full time, though it is possible to work as an inventory specialist part-time. Inventory specialists may work after business hours, but this depends on the scheduling preferences of a specific store. Larger stores may receive product shipments on a daily basis, whereas smaller stores may only receive product shipments once or twice a week.
How to become an inventory specialist
You can follow these general steps to become an inventory specialist:
1. Earn a high school diploma or an equivalent
Becoming an inventory specialist requires at least a high school level education. For candidates without a high school diploma, the General Education Development test (GED) can be taken to earn a nationally recognized credential equivalent to a high school degree.
2. Earn an associate’s degree
Post-secondary education is not a requirement for working as an inventory specialist. However, an associate’s degree in the field of logistics can make you a more competitive candidate when applying to inventory specialist positions and can provide you with a foundation for advancing into the warehouse and logistics industry.
3. Spend time working in inventory management
Spend a year or two working as a stocker or in another entry-level inventory position in the retail industry. Most inventory specialist positions require at least a year of prior professional experience working in retail warehouses.
4. Advance to the role of inventory specialist
After working as an entry-level stocking or inventory position, ask your supervisor if there are any openings for advancement to the role of an inventory specialist. If there aren’t, search for open inventory specialist positions in other locations.
Inventory specialist job description example
The Transistor Town electronics superstore in Thompson Creek is looking for someone to come onto our staff as an inventory manager. The inventory specialist will be responsible for supervising the store’s warehouse staff, as well as placing orders for inventory according to the store’s needs and budgetary restrictions, checking in inventory shipments on the store inventory management system, reporting and communicating any issues with the store’s shipments and assisting the stocking team with distributing the shipment throughout the store’s warehouse and onto the sales floor.
All new hires must complete a two-week-long integration training before starting their position to become familiar with our inventory management software and our store policies. As an inventory specialist, stockers will report to you before reporting to management, and you will report directly to the store’s general manager. At least one year of prior warehouse experience is required. A valid OSHA issued forklift license is preferred but optional.
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