How to become a Warehouse Operative? Female Warehouse Operative scanning boxes

How to become a Warehouse Operative?

Overview

Job Role Warehouse Operative (aka: Picker/Packer, Factory Worker)
Responsibilities Picking and packing stock into boxes, stock management, stacking shelves
Salary

£7.72 per hour / £12,700 - £27,000 per year

What do I need to do to become a Warehouse Operative?

A Warehouse Operative is someone who works in a team that is employed to get goods to customers. This job involves safely unloading items, packing them carefully into boxes, and collecting specific orders to be sent out to people. It can also be called a factory worker or picker/packer job. The rise of online shopping has meant there are lots of opportunities for work, especially during busy retail periods like Christmas. And there are lots of types of businesses you could be working for. These include manufacturers and distributors of goods like food and beverages, electrical items, furniture, clothes and just about everything else you can think of.

Warehouse operatives usually work on a rotating shift schedule. This means that you may be doing early shifts one week, followed by some days off and then onto late or night shifts. So this type of work is great if you need flexibility with when you work, or are looking for some temporary work. However, the hours will depend on the type of company you’re employed by. Not all employers need people to work late or night shifts, so it is possible to find regular hours. 

The average pay for a warehouse worker is between £12,700 and £27,000 a year, depending on your experience and level of responsibility. If you are working full-time this will mean around 38-40 hours a week.

Your day-to-day duties could involve picking and packing stock into boxes or transport areas. These will then be shipped off to customers, retail stores or other warehouses. You may also be counting and recording stock levels, and restocking warehouse shelves. Another important part of this job is accepting deliveries into the warehouse, and loading goods onto vehicles.

To be successful in this role, you’ll need to have good attention to detail, and work accurately, to ensure that the customer orders you put together are correct. Rushing through orders and making mistakes can be costly for the business, and reflect poorly on your team’s performance so it’s key to get things right the first time.

At least basic Maths and English skills will be useful, but there are no requirements for formal qualifications to do this job. It would be useful to have a full UK-issued driving licence, and your employer may require you to do forklift truck training. If you have any experience working in a warehouse, or stocking shelves in a supermarket, for example, this will be a great addition to your CV. Be sure to include it, along with your work experience and education history.

It’s important to come across as a reliable and hard-working employee. So if you’re invited to an interview for this role, make sure you turn up on time (this means 10 minutes before) and bring any documents or identification the employer has asked for. Before you accept a job, make sure you will be able to get to work, even in the evenings and at night. Warehouses are often in remote areas and aren’t always close to public transport.

You are unlikely to need a medical examination to get this sort of job. But bear in mind that it can be very physically demanding, and requires you to be standing up for most of your shift.

This role will suit you if you enjoy working in a team, but are also self-motivated and can work alone without being supervised. Being flexible and able to learn new things on the job will help you do well in this role.

Temporary work as a warehouse operative can be a great stepping-stone into a company you’d like to work for full-time. Showing you have a can-do attitude and are an asset to the team now, could lead to a permanent job in the company. They will also be more willing to invest their time in training you in other areas of the business that you might want to work in. For example, you could move into the transport and logistics side of the business, with extra training such as lorry driving or coordinating incoming and outgoing deliveries.

If you want to move up the ladder within this type of role, one option is to become a Warehouse Manager. This will mean overseeing a section or the whole operation of the warehouse, ensuring that targets and health and safety regulations are met. You’ll also be responsible for looking after your staff and making sure customers are happy. The extra responsibility will, of course, mean a higher salary and you may get shifts that are more regular. You are likely to move into a supervisor or junior management role first, then work your way up to higher positions.

Working in a warehouse is no easy job, but it can be rewarding if you enjoy meeting targets and prefer to be on your feet than at a desk. Warehouses are busy places, so it’s important to be aware that it can be loud and seem hectic at times; but don’t worry, you just need to stay focused on your job and meet health and safety standards at all times. Recently, the media has again highlighted the poor working conditions for staff in warehouses; particularly those of larger online retailers in the UK, but not all employers are the same. Finding a good team to work with and a company that treats its staff well is possible. The interview is a good chance to see what the company is like and what sort of people work there.

This is also a good job for learning and showing future employers that you have good transferable skills for lots of other jobs. For example, it will show you can follow instructions and work safely within health and safety regulations. It will also improve your communication and team working skills. As you progress and gain more responsibility, you can also build up your people and leadership skills, which are great for any job where you manage a team.

If you’re aiming to gain permanent employment from a temporary warehouse operative job, speak to the hiring manager about this in your interview. Ask how likely it is and how many people they normally keep on after busy periods. The festive period like Christmas also gives you the chance to do overtime and pick up extra shifts, if you need the extra cash.

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