How can I become a material handler?

Material handlers are responsible for loading materials.

Material handlers are responsible for loading and moving materials to the factory yard, warehouse or other job site. Material handling requires a very high level of physical stamina, organizational skills, and the ability to record and inventory materials. To become a material handler, it is helpful to gain entry-level warehouse experience and obtain a technical degree in material handling or distribution management.

Shipping employees ensure that the stock is stored at the right location for distribution.

Many material handlers begin their careers by securing an entry-level position as a transport worker or forklift driver. Shipping personnel are responsible for assembling and distributing the materials and then ensuring that the items are properly located for distribution. Forklift operators move materials onto trucks or into warehouse storage. These entry-level positions provide employees with on-the-job training and are often easy to obtain with a high school diploma.

Material handlers may have to pack items in boxes secured with tape.

Starting out as an entry-level warehouse worker allows employees to learn first-hand what it takes to become a material handler. Transport workers and forklift operators will easily get used to the various equipment needed to handle materials, learn to read packing instructions, and gain exposure to the tasks required to successfully handle and distribute materials. To become a material handler and excel in the industry, it is advisable to earn a technical degree while working part-time in a distribution warehouse.

A technical degree or certification in materials management or distribution will often give employees a competitive edge in becoming materials handlers. A certification program will typically cover procedures for hazardous materials handling, route mapping and equipment safety. Students can also learn management skills and supervisory tactics to supervise warehouse employees.

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Most vocational certificates take about a year to complete. It can be an added advantage to earn a two-year associate’s degree in industrial systems technology. An associate degree will give you more competitive advantage and negotiation leverage when applying for material handler positions.

Promotion opportunities may become available through the current workplace or may be pursued through external resources. Many vocational and technical schools have job placement programs that help workers find secure jobs with competitive pay. Other material handlers may approach their employer after obtaining a degree and several years of work experience and applying for a promotion to material handler or distribution manager.

Material handlers may be required to attend regular workshops or seminars on warehouse safety procedures. These workshops train employees on how to safely operate equipment and lift heavy materials without causing injury. As technological equipment advances, material handlers may be required to attend training courses on the operation and repair of new equipment.

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