A material handler processes all goods received or shipped by a company. She is in charge of the physical receipt, distribution and storage of all products from office supplies to raw materials, parts and tools. Her work may take place in a large or small company. Depending on the size of the business, she may work alone or as part of a team of material handlers.
Good organizational skills are typically imperative to the success of a material handler. As goods are received from outside sources, she is commonly expected to log their receipt, place them in appropriate storage areas or distribute them the correct departments. Her authority generally allows her to sign bills of lading, so it is important that her review of the shipment is detailed and accurate.
If she is required to ship materials, the handler is commonly required to follow a similarly meticulous process. She generally reviews the accompanying documents for accuracy and confirms special shipping details and instructions. If problems arise concerning the destination of the goods or shipping methods require alteration, she is customarily expected to keep all involved parties informed of the changes.
Since she normally interacts with all of a company’s departments, her communication skills are typically expected to be clear and concise. If a production manager requires expedited shipment on materials to keep the manufacturing processes on schedule, the material handler is ordinarily expected to make sure the order is given top priority. If there are problems with a contractor or vendor, the material handler is normally the person designated to resolve the issue.
Other departments that depend on the accuracy and efficiency of the material handler are accounting and inventory control. The accounting department relies on the material handler to efficiently validate and transfer invoices to them for payment. Inventory control personnel generally expect to be readily notified of items on back order to advise appropriate departments of necessary adjustments to work or delivery schedules.
In addition to being organized, a material handler is usually required to have good math and computer skills. Discretion and honesty are important, as she is frequently required to handle sensitive goods and materials. Good writing abilities are generally needed to compile reports and summaries for management.
A high school diploma or equivalent is normally required for this position. College courses or other formal training is preferred by some employers. However, most of these jobs are awarded to those with solid experience in related positions, regardless of educational background.