Freight Mover: Job Description & Career Requirements

Mar 12, 2019

See what a career as a freight mover entails. Learn what common duties are, how to become a freight mover, and what the job prospects and earning potential are. Keep reading to explore alternative jobs, too.

Career Definition for Freight Movers

A freight mover plays an important part in the shipping and storage of goods. From loading freight to preparing freight for pick-up, a freight mover is responsible for safe and timely delivery or proper storage of many types of products and materials. A freight mover might move freight by hand, or use equipment like pallet jacks, forklifts, hand carts, hand trucks and dollies. They work generally on shipping docks and cargo ports or in warehouses and storage facilities. A freight mover might load and unload freight from flatbed trucks, vans, boats and shipping containers. A freight mover will also be responsible for maintaining paperwork detailing freight movement, such as number of pieces, type and weight.

Education High school diploma or GED; training program may be required
Job Skills Physical fitness, mechanical aptitude, communication skills, mathematics proficiency, coordination
Median Salary $27,040 (2017) Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers
Career Outlook 8% (2016-2026) Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

No college degree is needed to become a freight mover. A high school diploma is preferred, and most employers require a drug screening and background check. A freight mover may need to complete an employer training program, which usually lasts a few months or up to a year, and may include inventory control methods, forklift or pallet jack operation and loading and unloading techniques.

Skills Required

A freight mover should have good oral and written communication, coordination, and organizational and basic math skills. Mechanical skills are also important, as a freight mover is likely to employ the use of hydraulic pallet jacks and forklifts on a daily basis. A freight mover needs to be in good physical condition, as the job requires lifting, carrying and bending.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job growth for freight movers is expected to increase by 8% from 2016-2026; however, projecting the outlook for freight movers is somewhat difficult, simply because of the variety of industries in which they work and the types of products or materials they are moving and storing. Turnover rates are typically high due to the physically demanding nature of the work, which creates many opportunities for those interested in the field. The median pay among hand laborers and material movers was reported by the BLS to be $27,040 as of May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Careers related to freight moving are:

Delivery Truck Driver

Delivery truck drivers collect and deliver items to commercial and residential locations within a specified geographic area; the maximum truck size they're allowed to operate is 26,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight (GVW). They are typically also responsible for handling pick-up/drop-off paperwork, mapping their route, maintaining the neatness and cleanliness of their truck and following all traffic laws. Licensed drivers who have completed high school may be eligible for hire; on-the-job training is common and usually lasts a few weeks. Delivery truck driver jobs are predicted to increase 4% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The median wage was $29,250 in 2017, per the BLS.

Material Moving Machine Operator

Material moving machine operators are responsible for transporting items from one place to another in a variety of settings, from construction sites to warehouses or mining sites. Depending on the job, material moving machine operators may operate cranes, excavators, hoist and winch machinery, tractors and dredging machinery.

While there isn't any required education or training required prior to employment in general, in some states, specialized licensing may be required depending on the machinery operated. In other cases, an apprenticeship may be available. Previous work experience is sometimes preferred. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 6% from 2016-2026, per the BLS, while these jobs paid a median wage of $34,830 as of May 2017.

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