Warehouses are where all types of goods and products - both perishable and non-perishable - are stored, ready for distribution. Warehouse workers make sure that stock is stored in the right place, safely, securely and in the correct conditions. They then ensure that the required stock is ready for collection when it is needed.
Warehouse managers are responsible for the efficient running of the warehouse and are in charge of the workforce.
The job of a warehouse worker may include:
Warehouse managers are responsible for making sure the warehouse runs smoothly and without interruption. Their work can vary from season to season depending on the amount of stock to be moved in and out of the warehouse.
Their job covers:
Most warehouses now use computerised stock control systems, so both workers and managers are likely to use computer equipment including handheld systems.
Some goods need to be kept in closely monitored environments, for example where the humidity or temperature is controlled. Workers and managers need to make sure that these conditions are maintained.
Both warehouse workers and managers usually work 37 to 40 hours a week. This is likely to involve shift work, including nights and weekends, as most warehouses operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are often opportunities for overtime during busy periods in the warehouse.
Most modern warehouses are light and airy. Some goods, such as certain types of food, have to be stored under special conditions at a low temperature, which means the warehouse can be a cool place in which to work. Loading and unloading may involve working outdoors in all weathers.
The work in a warehouse involves lifting, bending, stretching and carrying. Protective clothing is likely to be worn.
Warehouse managers work in the warehouse, but are also likely to spend time in an office.
The basic starting salary may be around £14,000 a year for a warehouse worker and around £22,000 for a manager.
There are around 360,000 warehouse workers employed in the UK. Employers include logistics and distribution companies, supermarkets and high street shops, wholesalers, mail order companies, distribution companies, manufacturers, government departments, the NHS and the Armed Forces. There are around 76,000 warehouse managers in the UK.
Some warehouse managers and workers look after the storage and warehousing for their company whose business may be, for example, retail or manufacturing. Other companies, known as 3PL or third party logistics, have warehousing as their main business and operate storage and distribution on behalf of other companies.
Jobs are advertised in local newspapers and Jobcentre Plus offices. Jobs are also advertised on recruitment websites. Many warehouse worker jobs are filled through agencies and are temporary jobs based on casual labour.
There are no minimum qualifications to become a warehouse worker, but basic maths, English and IT skills are required by most employers. In some warehouses, goods are colour coded, so colour vision tests may be given during job interviews.
There are no set entry requirements for warehouse managers. It is possible to enter as a warehouse worker and progress to a management position.
Employers may require qualifications such as A levels, and a growing number of companies are recruiting graduates as management trainees. Degree courses are available in business related subjects such as logistics, supply chain management and transport management.
A fork lift licence - for those aged 16 or over - can be helpful in getting warehouse work. Training courses lasting around three to five days are offered by independent training providers.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees have adequate training in the safe use of fork lift equipment before they can start using such equipment. Fork lift training is offered by many employers for those who do not already hold a licence.
Warehouse workers and managers can work towards NVQ's. These include Distribution, Warehousing and Storage Operations or Storage and Warehousing at Level 2 and 3, as well as Supply Chain Management which is available at Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) offers professional qualifications for warehouse managers ranging from short introductory courses to a distance learning Masters degree.
The Institute of Export offers courses in international trade at advanced certificate and diploma level.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) offers a range of professional qualifications including a graduate diploma. Courses leading to qualifications are available by modular training and flexible learning methods.
The European Certification Board for Logistics (ECBL) offers a supply chain/logistics qualification at strategic, senior and supervisory/operational levels.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Warehouse workers need to:
Warehouse managers need to:
There may be opportunities for a warehouse worker to progress to team leader, supervisor and warehouse manager.
There may be openings for warehouse managers in more senior positions. Promotion to such positions may involve moving to a different company.
There may be opportunities for warehouse managers with ECBL European accreditation to find work abroad. To do this it would be helpful to speak a foreign language.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK),
Logistics and Transport Centre, Earlstrees Court,
Earlstrees Road, Corby,
Northamptonshire NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740100
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS),
Easton House, Easton on the Hill,
Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 3NZ
Tel: 01780 756777
Institute of Export, Export House,
Minerva Business Park, Lynch Wood,
Peterborough PE2 6FT
Tel: 01733 404400
Skills for Logistics,
14 Warren Yard, Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360
United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA),
Walter House, 418-422 Strand,
London WC2R 0PT
Tel: 020 7836 5522
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.