Warehouse operatives receive, store and dispatch goods and products in a warehouse, factory or stockroom.
They ensure that orders are shipped to customers on time and without damage, whilst keeping the supply chain running smoothly and efficiently.
This complete guide includes a full warehouse operative job description and details all you need to know about warehouse operatives, including average salaries, requirements and career progression.
- Warehouse operative job description
- How much do warehouse operatives earn?
- What does a warehouse operative do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs warehouse operatives?
- Which junior jobs progress to warehouse operative roles?
Warehouse operative job description
Warehouse operative | Low-Cost Shop Co
About Low-Cost Shop Co
Here at Low-Cost Shop Co, we’re passionate about serving local shoppers and being a trusted part of the community. We serve thousands of customers every week, across our local shop network and our growing online delivery service.
About the role
As our new warehouse operative, you’ll work within the ambient, chilled and frozen sections of our warehouse. Reporting to the warehouse manager, you’ll work to make sure our stores get what they need on time and that online orders are picked for delivery quickly and efficiently.
- Assisting with the loading and unloading of vehicles using manual handling techniques
- Moving and storing products in the correct warehouse area
- Processing, picking and packing orders in a timely manner, working to targets
- Ensuring all produce is fresh and free from damage and reporting any discrepancies
- Using our computer systems to upkeep necessary records and reports
- Cleaning and maintaining warehouse equipment to set standards
- Moving pallets using a forklift truck (training provided if necessary)
- Consistently working to good standards of health and safety and meeting company warehouse standards and procedures
Location & commitments
- This is a demanding role that requires lifting and moving heavy items and covering a large warehouse on foot — so several miles can be done each day!
- Full-time, shift role: 07:00 – 19:00 or 19:00 – 07:00 — 4 on, 4 off
- Based at our warehouse on an industrial park on the outskirts of Birmingham
- Regular overtime available, paid at time and a half for anything over 37.5 hours
- Able to meet the physical demands of the role
- Able to work in a fast-paced and target-driven environment
- A flexible attitude to work and hours
- Good all-round communication skills
- Own transport, due to the warehouse location
- Previous experience within a fresh produce warehouse environment
- Previous manual handling training or experience
- Forklift/counterbalance license and experience
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to apply for a fast-paced, challenging role with the opportunity to progress within our company, why not apply today? Send a CV and cover letter, letting us know why you’d make a good fit for the job, to our HR manager Bob Smith, at email@example.com.
How much do warehouse operatives earn?
The average warehouse operative salary in the UK is currently £18,579, which is lower than the national average. However, bonuses are often available and, with experience, pay rises and promotions are possible.
Warehouse operative salaries in the UK
- Low: £16,622
- Average: £18,579
- High: £21,000
Warehouse operative salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The industry – Salaries can vary between industries, such as retail, manufacturing and logistics
- The shifts worked – Night shift workers may be paid more due to the unsociable hours involved
- The size of the company – Larger companies with a national or international presence often pay more than small, local businesses
- The location – As with most roles, the region being worked in can affect the salary — for example, those working in London can expect a slightly higher rate of pay
For example, a warehouse operative working night shifts for a global retail business in London will normally earn more than a warehouse operative working day shifts for a smaller, less established company outside of London.
As the figures above are taken from a range of job advert samples, they do not include extra benefits such as performance-based bonuses, overtime and pension contributions.
What does a warehouse operative do?
Duties will vary from role to role, but here are the typical tasks and responsibilities found on a warehouse operative job description:
- Receiving deliveries – Receiving, processing, checking-in and signing-off deliveries from vans and lorries
- Checking deliveries – Checking that deliveries contain the correct items, in the correct quantities, and that none are damaged
- Unloading deliveries – Unloading deliveries from vans and lorries using lifting gear or a forklift truck
- Moving stock – Moving unpacked goods and stock to the correct department and location for storage
- Picking products – Collecting items for orders using a scanner and transporting them to the loading bay or packing station
- Packing products – Packaging products into sleeves, boxes and crates and sealing orders ready for delivery
- Labelling packages – Printing labels for orders and placing them correctly on packages
- Loading goods – Loading goods and packages onto delivery vehicles for transfer
- Maintaining stock control – Making sure that the appropriate amounts of stock are available so that customer demand can be met without delay
- Reporting faulty goods – Recording and reporting any faulty, damaged or missing items found to supervisors or managers
- Keeping records – Maintaining an accurate record of stock coming in and out, so that items can be easily located
- Cleaning working areas – Helping to clean and maintain the housekeeping of the warehouse
What do warehouse operatives need?
A job as a warehouse operative is generally considered a junior role, with low entry requirements.
However, when advertising for roles, employers may still ask for a good standard of general education, certain skills and, sometimes, specific qualifications and training.
Requirements vary between roles and sectors — but speaking generally, here is what is needed:
Warehouse operative roles can be gained without any prior experience; after completing GCSEs or A-Levels, for instance. There is still likely to be some competition for roles, so any experience in a temporary or seasonal warehouse role can be a distinct advantage. As the job involves heavy lifting and using machinery, transferable work experience, such as working on a construction site, is also attractive to employers.
Warehouse operative skills
While the job can be gained without experience, employers will still be keen to hire candidates with the following skills and capabilities:
- Communication: Communicating clearly and confidently with colleagues, managers, suppliers, customers and clients
- Attention to detail: Accurately pinpointing faulty and damaged goods and delivery errors
- Working under pressure: Meeting demanding targets and strict deadlines whilst still performing tasks to high standards
- Physical fitness: Working physically demanding shifts including working at height, bending, stretching and moving heavy objects
- Flexibility: Regularly working irregular hours, including shift work, evenings and weekends
- Manual handling: Safely moving and lifting large and heavy objects, using the correct techniques
- Using machinery: Using forklifts, manual handling equipment and other machinery safely and effectively
- IT: Using computers, scanners and software to keep track of stock and report damages
Warehouse operative qualifications
Warehouse operative roles generally have no predefined education requirements.
The majority of employers will value a hard working mindset, relevant skills and any experience far more than academic qualifications.
With that said, a good standard of general education is often preferred — for example, GCSEs in English, Maths and IT at Grade C or above — though not always essential.
There are also a number of relevant training opportunities, certificates and qualifications that can help candidates to land jobs, in addition to helping them gain promotions and achieve higher earning potential.
NVQ in Warehousing and Storage
There are three levels of NVQ available within warehousing:
- Level 1: For those new to warehousing and storage who would like to start, or have recently started, working in this area
- Level 2: For those who have gained experience in the field and want to have their skills recognised by a national qualification
- Level 3: For those working as a team Leader or supervisor within a warehouse operation
These qualifications provide recognition of the skills and knowledge needed to work in the profession, such as operating equipment safely, processing and fulfilling orders and managing goods.
While not essential to gaining employment, they can help warehouse operatives to build upon their skills, stand out to managers and become a better candidate for roles at a more senior level.
Employers legally have to provide manual handling training for any situation where staff are required to do any lifting, lowering, pulling or pushing that carries any level risk, such as a warehouse. Training is generally provided on the job, but job seekers also have the option of taking a manual handling course independently. These courses can help warehouse operatives to prove their commitment to health and safety and better protect their health within their role.
Forklift operators play a crucial role in the smooth running of a warehouse by quickly and efficiently moving goods and deliveries. Gaining forklift experience or training is a fantastic way for warehouse operatives to stand out for competitive roles and improve their future earning potential.
First aid training
Warehouses are of potential health and safety risks, making it vital that there are staff in the premises who have gained the appropriate training. For this reason, candidates who’ve taken a first aid course can be at a significant advantage during the hiring process.
What is expected of warehouse operatives?
Warehouse operatives will be typically be expected to commit to the following:
- Full or part-time hours – Contracts are available on a range of contracts, either full-time (35 – 40 hours per week) or part-time (anywhere from 4 – 30 hours per week)
- Shift work – Entry-level workers normally work on a shift basis, with a mix of early starts, late finishes and weekends
- Long hours – Shifts are long and demanding — sometimes 10 or 12 hours
- Overtime – Depending on the employer, overtime may be optional or essential during busy periods, such as the run up to Christmas
- Location – Normally based at one warehouse or factory, with no travel required
Warehouse operative benefits
The benefits that warehouse operatives receive will vary depending on the company and the type of contract. However, some of the most common benefits include:
- Bonuses – Often based on performance, such as the number of items packed on a shift
- Extra pay – At the discretion of the employer, overtime hours and night shifts may be uplifted to a higher rate of pay
- Pension scheme
- Company discounts
Who employs warehouse operatives?
Companies who deliver large amounts of physical products to customers (like online retailers) generally tend to have large warehouses, and therefore need plenty or staff to run them.
With multinational e-commerce giants like Amazon experiencing increasing demand for shipments and more online shopping spend happening than ever, the warehousing industry is growing fast.
So much so, that warehousing employment has risen by 90% since 2000. It’s also predicted that warehousing and storage employment will grow by an additional 195,700 people in the next ten years. With such significant growth, a career in warehousing makes for a sensible and secure path.
Typical employers of warehouse operatives and assistants include companies within:
- Armed forces
- Warehouse & distribution
Opportunities exist throughout the UK in towns, cities and even rural areas. However, due to their size, warehouses are often located slightly out of the town and city-centres, making access to a car or public transport a must.
Warehouse operatives usually work within the warehouse of a specific company — for example, Tesco or Amazon. However, opportunities are also available in independent warehousing & distributing companies, who provide a range of storage and delivery facilities to many of the leading names across retail and manufacturing.
Which junior jobs progress to warehouse operative?
A job as a warehouse operative can normally be gained without any prior experience, making it a junior role in itself.
With that said, gaining a temporary or seasonal role is an ideal way for new starters to develop the skills and experience needed to progress into a permanent role. These roles are often advertised on job websites or can sometimes be gained through a local staffing or recruitment agency.
Additionally, warehouse operative apprenticeships are increasingly available and allow candidates to earn while they learn, gain nationally recognised qualifications and develop skills and behaviours to equip them for work in any type of warehousing and storage environment.
Which senior jobs do warehouse operatives progress to?
One of the best things about a job as a warehouse operative is that, with experience and hard work, there is plenty of opportunity to move up the ladder into higher-paying, senior-level roles.
The most common promotion opportunities include:
Warehouse team leader/supervisor
With a few years of experience as a warehouse operative, promotion into a team leader of shift supervisor role is in reach. These jobs offer a higher hourly rate but pose an increased level of responsibility, including the day to day management of staff and ensuring that they consistently comply with health, safety and standard operating procedures.
For those who gain experience in a team leader or supervisory role, working up to an assistant manager or manager position is possible. With an average salary of £32,500, warehouse managers are responsible for overseeing a department of a warehouse — or, sometimes, the entire operation of a warehouse. They ensure that health and safety standards are adhered to, that supply-chain targets are met and that staff and customers are happy.
With the correct training, it’s also common for warehouse operatives to side-step into roles in other areas, such as quality control, distribution, freight planning or HGV driving.
Warehouse operative job description – conclusion
Gaining a job as a warehouse operative is available without any prior experience, yet offers the chance to develop transferable skills and move up the ladder into higher-paying jobs.
The job often requires long, unsociable hours and shift work in order to keep distribution centres operating around the clock, every day of the week.
However, the warehouse industry is growing rapidly, making a career in the sector a secure and potentially rewarding choice.