Material Handler Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Material Handler, or Warehouse Associate, handles, moves and stores various non-hazardous and hazardous materials within a warehouse. Their main duties include loading and unloading different transport items, recording inventory statuses and making sure deliveries properly match purchase orders.

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Material Handler duties and responsibilities

A Material Handler in large corporations is required to work with and supervise a team of people and direct them with efficiency. Some of their typical day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Verifying the accuracy of quantity and quality of incoming deliveries
  • Labeling every product and placing them accordingly
  • Identifying and locating the right products during the delivery process
  • Keeping a well-maintained and updated account of stock and inventory
  • Handling returns by completing technical documentation and other required communication
  • Keeping all material handling equipment in the best condition by conducting regular maintenance
  • Conveying purchasing requirements and keeping data on the availability of products in short supply
  • Collaborating with internal departments to locate missing packages, fix incorrect deliveries and replace damaged products
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What does a Material Handler do?

Material Handlers work within a company’s warehouse, moving, handling and storing different materials. They track the stock within the warehouse, record orders and store the company’s merchandise. Material Handlers are regularly on their feet loading and unloading inventory, supplies and other packages from various locations, like storage and production areas, delivery trucks and loading docks. 

Before loading up trucks for delivery, the Material Handlers check their files and records to make sure all of the incoming deliveries follow what’s written in their purchase orders. They’re also in charge of storing cargo in various assigned locations, using materials like pallets and cargo boards. After moving different units, they log the total number they’ve moved for the day in their production sheet.

Material Handler skills and qualifications

In order to be a successful Material Handler, a candidate should be able to work with minimal supervision, be proactive and manage other workers effectively. Some of their other essential skills include: 

  • Certification in forklift operation
  • Knowledge of operating other warehouse machinery
  • Data entry, math and computer skills
  • Physically fit with the ability to lift objects weighing between 50-100 pounds
  • Effective leadership and team management skills
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills

Material Handler salary expectations

A Material Handler makes an average of $13.70 per hour in the United States. This pay rate may vary based on a candidate’s skills, experience and educational qualifications.

Material Handler education and training requirements

In order to work as a Material Handler in any company, candidates should have a high school diploma or equivalent GED certificate. However, some employers may also look for applicants who have earned an associate degree or certification in warehouse management through technical or vocational institutes or online learning programs. Someone with an advanced degree will not only be prepared to perform the everyday tasks of a Material Handler, but they will possess managerial expertise and knowledge of accounting, purchasing and expense analysis. This education may not be as necessary for an entry-level position, however.

Material Handler experience requirements

Most employers look for Material Handler candidates with 1-5 years of experience operating heavy equipment and working in a warehouse setting. They also prefer candidates who are physically fit and certified to drive a forklift. Experience in record keeping, data entry and stock management is also a plus. Most entry-level roles provide on-the-job training, so candidates may need less experience for these positions.

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Frequently asked questions about Material Handlers


Who does a Material Handler report to?

Material Handlers typically report to Warehouse Managers, who supervise the storage, movement and handling of different goods, supplies and materials. They also receive their daily job assignments from the Warehouse Managers. Material Handlers provide regular updates on production progress and daily reports to Warehouse Managers. If Material Handlers encounter a challenging delivery or package handling issue, they state this to the Warehouse Manager, who helps resolve the problem. 


What settings do Material Handlers typically work in?

Most Material Handlers work within a warehouse, conducting inventory storage and moving goods to their necessary locations. Some Material Handlers work in a general role, where they complete a wide variety of tasks each day within the warehouse and travel to different loading docks to move and load packages. 

There are also some Material Handlers whose primary job responsibilities are to visit various storage and production areas to load different materials. Other Material Handlers who work solely in the warehouse, making sure the proper materials are being shipped, scanned and accounted for. 


Do Material Handlers have different responsibilities in different industries?

Most Material Handlers operate in the supply chain industry, moving large numbers of goods to and from various storage and production areas. Some Material Handlers may work for retail stories, where they specialize in moving specific types of non-hazardous items, like clothing and various consumer goods. 

Some work for laboratories or companies who need hazardous chemicals transported. In this instance, Material Handlers are typically specially trained to move certain hazardous materials. They learn how to use motorized equipment, like forklifts, to safely and efficiently move these items back and forth to their respective locations.


What makes a good Material Handler?

A great Material Handler should have impressive physical stamina, coordination and strength to regularly move and transport large, heavy items. It’s also beneficial for ideal candidates to have effective problem-solving and critical thinking skills to quickly solve any issues that may appear on the production line.

Collaboration and teamwork abilities are also important and regularly used on the job, as Material Handlers work as a team to find new and efficient ways to handle and move various items. Material Handlers are often in charge of keeping different work areas neat and tidy and must track and file daily production records, so organization skills are needed to effectively handle these tasks.  

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