Material Handler Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Material Handler, or Package Handler moves and distributes products, stock and other materials for a business. Their primary duties include transporting materials, waste disposal and record-keeping.


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Material Handler duties and responsibilities

Material Handlers perform several tasks when handling materials. While the duties of Material Handlers vary between industries, they may include:

  • Receiving and unpacking material deliveries
  • Extracting and loading materials for transport
  • Cycle counting to ensure orders match materials received
  • Transporting materials in a warehouse or factory, often using forklifts and other material handling equipment
  • Inspecting material handling equipment and reporting any required repairs or maintenance
  • Entering material movements in enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
  • Responding to material requests from other business departments
  • Disposing of waste materials safely and legally


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What does a Material Handler do?

Material Handlers receive materials and move them to the places they need to be. They also maintain materials records to make sure the business’ stock is always accurate. Material Handlers make sure materials are handled and disposed of safely. They also make sure all the company’s departments have the materials they need to work productively with and fulfil the customer needs. Material Handlers are a key part of a business supply chain.

There are Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Material Handlers. Hazardous Material Handlers handle hazardous materials including toxic chemicals and radioactive materials. Non-Hazardous Material Handlers handle materials that are not dangerous, such as steel and products.


Material Handler skills and qualifications

Material Handlers use a variety of skills to handle materials safely and legally. A successful Material Handlers will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that typically include:

  • In-depth understanding of health, safety and environmental requirements for material handling
  • Attention to detail for the accurate fulfillment of material requests and record-keeping
  • Computer literacy, including using ERP systems
  • Verbal and written communication skills for understanding requests and responding to material requests
  • Basic computer literacy, including familiarity with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, or similar word processing and spreadsheet  programs
  • Numeracy skills for accurate record keeping and calculations


Material Handler experience requirements

Material Handlers do not need any experience for this role. However, some businesses may prefer hiring Material Handlers with warehouse experience. Candidates with this experience are usually comfortable completing materials documentation and using ERP systems. Businesses in technical fields, such as pharmaceutical or medical sectors, may prefer candidates with industry experience. Experience handling hazardous materials is also usually preferred in roles requiring hazardous material management.


Material Handler education and training requirements

Material Handlers do not need extensive education as most of the training  takes place on the job. Some businesses ask for candidates with GCSEs Grade C or above, as this shows an aptitude for learning. In addition, candidates usually need a clean driving licence to safely transport materials. A forklift licence is also helpful. However, most businesses will help the right candidate acquire this.

Businesses employing Material Handlers have mandatory training programs. These initiatives teach new recruits health, safety and environmental requirements for material handling. Hazardous Material Handlers need additional HAZMAT training. These programmes may be run internally or outsourced. Some programmes qualify participants for accreditation. Employers can feel confident candidates with qualifications such as Materials Handling and PLANT Equipment Training Accreditation are already competent.


Material Handler salary expectations

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Material Handler job description FAQs


What qualities make a good Material Handler?

As they have active jobs, Material Handlers should be physically fit. Their fitness gives them strength for lifting heavy materials and endurance for walking and standing. They should also be self-motivated as they often work alone. They also need to be respectful of material handling guidelines and work methodically, rather than taking risks.


What is the difference between a Forklift Operator and a Material Handler?

While their work can sometimes overlap, Material Handlers perform a much broader range of tasks than Forklift Operators. While they may perform other duties as required, Forklift Operators focus on operating forklifts. Material Handlers move materials by hand and also by material handling equipment, including forklifts. Material Handlers also keep material records and dispose of materials. Forklift Operators are not responsible for these duties.


Who does a Material Handler report to?

Material Handlers report to Warehouse Managers or Shift Supervisors. They get tasks from these people and alert them of any concerns. For example, a Material Handler tells their Warehouse Manager about any incorrect or damaged orders and report any  equipment that needs repairs or maintenance.

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