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A Career in Warehouse Management

The handling, storage and onward movement of goods and materials around the country (and even overseas) is a vast and complicated business.  To ensure that, for example, supermarket shelves are kept full and clothing stores receive their new season’s fashion stocks, warehouses operate by storing all sorts of products and then despatching them to where they are needed. 


The work

Most goods at some point need to be stored in a warehouse, so warehouses receive goods, store them securely and despatch to customers when requested.  Warehouses store a variety of goods such as chemicals, electrical goods, textiles, foodstuffs, building materials and furniture.  To keep goods at optimum quality the warehouses may need to be temperature-controlled or maintain certain light levels, or have special security such as bonded warehouses that store imported goods that have yet to be assessed for customs purposes. 

Computer technology has changed the way that warehouses operate increasing their flexibility and agility to respond to customer demands.  All items entering a warehouse will be recorded on the warehouse management systems and some warehouses are so large that computer-controlled cranes and lift trucks are used to move between the racks and automatically select the goods.

People management will be a key part of a warehouse manager’s day-to-day activity, including drawing up shift rotas, and possibly recruiting and training operative-level staff as well as taking responsibility for health and safety and security.


The skills

Working in warehouse management requires a wide range of skills:

  • Accuracy
  • IT literacy – many warehouses have sophisticated warehouse management systems
  • Numeracy skills – for stock management
  • Planning and organisation skills – for effective stock management
  • Teamwork skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Flexibility – many warehouses operate shift patterns so this may not be the right job for those seeking a regular 9-5 working routine.

Entry requirements

There is plenty of warehouse work at all levels, from jobs that require few or no qualifications for entry positions through to formal graduate training schemes.

It is possible to enter the profession straight from school or college either via direct entry to an employer or by taking up one of the apprenticeship opportunities that exist in warehousing and related occupations, so it is worth visiting the Apprenticeship websites to see what is available (there are separate sites for each of the four nations):


Salary and career development

Salary levels will vary according to the job role.  On qualification, apprentices will earn around £13,500 depending on the occupational pathway followed, and the salary for graduate schemes is in the range £18-25,000.  

Salaries for non-graduate supervisory or junior managements roles can be from £17,000 to £20,000 a year, while experienced warehouse managers can earn between £22,000 and £35,000 and more senior managers attract salaries £40,000 and more per year.

There is a wide range of roles from warehouse assistant through to lift truck driving and customer care assistants with plenty of opportunity for progression. With experience and qualifications employees can work their way up the ladder to supervisory and managerial positions.  There are plenty of examples of senior level staff having worked their way up from warehouse operative roles but some of larger organisations prefer to recruit candidates with degrees or Higher National Diplomas for trainee management jobs due to the demanding natures of the work.

Membership of a relevant professional body will support people as they progress up the career ladder and provide a variety of opportunities to network and to acquire professional qualifications.  There are specialist degrees at undergraduate and post-graduate level, which provide the academic background to support and inform practical experience.


Employers

Warehouse management roles exist across a range of employers:

  • Manufacturing companies
  • Construction
  • Supermarkets and retailers
  • Public sector – such as NHS and armed forces
  • Specialist warehousing companies
  • Wholesaler
  • Online retailers


Contacts

There is a number of professional bodies and trade associations relevant to the sector:

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