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Shipping & Receiving Clerk: Career Info & Requirements

Shipping and receiving clerks complete tasks that help a warehouse run smoothly. In addition to tracking inventory and keeping records, they may also package items, inspect merchandise and complete other related duties. Find out about the training, skills, salary and outlook to see if you want to pursue this occupation.

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Career Definition of a Shipping and Receiving Clerk

Shipping and receiving clerks typically work in a warehouse environment and are responsible for tracking inventory levels, handling all aspects of shipping and receiving and keeping accurate records. On the shipping side, they package items, print labels, weigh packages and determine appropriate postage. As receiving clerks, they are responsible for comparing bills of lading against actual merchandise received, inspecting for damaged goods and, once approved, distributing merchandise to the correct departments. Shipping and receiving clerks use hand tools like box cutters and pry bars; they may also operate forklifts or similar vehicles.

Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent
Job Skills Familiar with computers, basic math skills, good organizational skills, ability to follow instructions and work under pressure, and physical ability
Median Salary (2015)* $30,450 (shipping, receiving and traffic clerks)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* -2% (shipping, receiving and traffic clerks)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Since the shipping and receiving clerk position is entry-level, a high school diploma or GED is the only educational prerequisite. Most training for new workers is completed in-house and is provided by senior shipping and receiving clerks. If a shipping and receiving clerk is interested in advancing to a supervisory position, he or she may consider taking continuing education courses in warehousing and logistics, which are offered online by professional warehousing organizations.

Skills Required

The shipping and receiving clerk should be familiar with computers and have basic math skills. The individual should be organized and able to work well under pressure. He or she must be able to understand and adhere to oral and written instructions. Additionally, physical strength is a necessity, since shipping and receiving clerks generally lift heavy packages.

Career and Economic Outlook

The broad category of material recording clerks is projected to have a 3% increase in employment growth from 2014 through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, opportunities are expected to decline 2% for shipping, receiving and traffic clerks during this time period. The BLS indicated that the median hourly rate for shipping, receiving and traffic clerks in 2015 was $14.64, with a median annual salary of $30,450. Over 674,000 of these clerks worked in the United States as of 2015, with the largest employer being the warehousing and storage industry. Postal service shipping, receiving and traffic clerks earn the most per hour, with a mean hourly wage of $27.89.

Alternate Career Options

Job options that use similar skills to those required by shipping and receiving clerks are:

General Office Clerk

Most of these clerks gain their skills on the job, learning to perform varying administrative tasks, including word processing, answering phones, managing schedules and filing. The BLS expected employment growth of 3% for these clerks from 2014-2024. Their median hourly salary in 2015, according to the BLS, was $14.22, or a median annual salary of $29,580.

Hand Laborers and Material Movers

These laborers and movers will learn their skills on the job and may not be required to have a high school diploma, although some employers may prefer that they do. Moving objects without the use of machines, some of these workers also pack materials for moving. A 5% job increase was expected from 2014-2024, which is as fast as the average of all occupations. Per the BLS, hand laborers, freight and stock movers earned a median hourly wage of $12.02 or an annual median salary of $25,010 in 2015.

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