Below, we explain how to become a warehouse operative and what the job involves. You will also find a round-up of the skills required and the potential salary for warehouse operatives.
What is a warehouse operative?
Warehouse operatives are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of goods within designated storage areas. If you are seeking a job in warehousing, most vacancies are in logistics and distribution – especially the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) supply sector.
Duties and responsibilities
Typically, warehouse worker duties involve the following:
- Assisting with storing, picking and packing goods.
- Loading and unloading lorries and trailers.
- Moving items around a warehouse, often on pallets.
- Keeping track of stock levels, typically using hand-held devices such as PDAs.
- Stocking shelves with products.
- Complying with safe working practices and company procedures.
- Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety hats when necessary.
Warehouse operatives often need to be able to operate a forklift truck. Therefore, some warehouse jobs require previous experience or completion of a training course in driving and operating a forklift before starting work in the new position.
Read more: How Long Does a Forklift Licence Last?
When unloading, moving and loading goods, an awareness of recommended safe working practices (SWP) is crucial. Workplaces throughout the UK are subject to Health & Safety regulations. For this reason, warehouse operative responsibilities usually include keeping the work area tidy and free of trip hazards.
Depending on the company, work hours may include early mornings, late evenings or night shifts. Some warehouse operative jobs require long hours, so reasonable physical fitness is a prerequisite. Apart from standing or moving around for extended periods, the role often involves lifting heavy objects over head height.
In this role, employees might also be responsible for organising stock for easy retrieval by other staff members or customers. Experienced warehouse staff might manage customer orders. In addition, they may have to maintain stock records and ensure that inward deliveries arrive on time.
Read more: Is forklift driving a good job?
Skills and qualifications
As outlined above, a working knowledge of Health & Safety legislation is essential. Warehouse operative skills include operating machines, lifting heavy weights and using forklift vehicles safely.
Warehouse operative qualifications vary from company to company. However, recruiters often require applicants to have an NVQ Level 2 certificate in forklift truck operation. The job also requires well-developed verbal and written communication skills to liaise with other members of staff and customers effectively.
A thorough approach with attention to detail is crucial. Warehouse staff may also need good IT skills if they are responsible for updating databases or creating reports based on daily or weekly activities.
As well as possessing a good level of motivation and initiative when the situation demands, warehouse operatives must also be able to work well in teams. Businesses often have multiple tasks to complete at the same time, so it is essential to be able to work under occasional pressure and meet set deadlines.
Characteristically, product picking, packing and movement involve considerable manual handling. Therefore, sufficient mobility and physical flexibility are fundamental to working safely without undue strain when reaching, stepping and lifting.
How much do warehouse operatives earn?
According to information published by the UK National Careers Service, average salaries for warehouse workers start from £16,000 per year. However, once qualified, the pay rates for experienced warehouse pickers and operatives increase.
Staff are usually eligible for career advancement opportunities. Senior warehouse workers could expect to earn up to £24,000 per annum, subject to regional variations.
Read more: How Much Do Forklift Drivers Earn?
Where to find warehouse jobs
Jobs for warehouse workers are temporary or permanent, depending mainly on seasonal fluctuations and the employers concerned. In addition, some companies offer intermediate apprenticeships to school leavers with GCSEs in English and maths.
Invariably, businesses and warehouse managers seek committed staff who can contribute to the smooth operation of the supply chain. You will need your own means of transport to get to work if the warehouse is some distance away and not served by public transport, taking hours of work and shifts into account.
Finally, if working as a warehouse operative is for you, we suggest you visit jobs pages or your local job centre. You will find more details there, including the available positions by location.
Premier Fork Lifts sell a wide range of new and used forklifts for a variety of uses and environments. Contact us today at 01254 583 533 to discuss your needs and we will find the perfect lift truck for you.