A receiving clerk checks and unloads incoming shipments at a warehouse, distribution center, or a large retail store. He or she verifies that the correct types and amounts of items were shipped and inspects the goods to ensure their quality. After examining the order, the receiving clerk stocks or stores the items in their appropriate places. Many receiving clerks are responsible for keeping careful records and contacting shippers directly if a problem or discrepancy is found.
Receiving clerks at large, busy facilities are primarily responsible for manual labor duties. They unload shipments from trucks, operate forklifts and hand trucks, remove and dispose of packaging material, and stock items. In general, a receiving clerk needs to be in good physical condition and have excellent vision. Organizational skills are essential to ensure receiving tasks run smoothly and that items can be found easily when they are needed.
Clerks who work at smaller facilities often handle a larger set of responsibilities, such as thoroughly checking shipments against original order forms to ensure the accuracy of orders. A clerk often opens boxes in the presence of delivery persons to make sure all items are present and undamaged. He or she often signs for shipments and makes payment arrangements as well.
Some receiving clerks, especially those who work at smaller warehouses, also perform shipping duties. They generally review purchase orders, gather and package the appropriate quantities of goods, and place them on outgoing trucks. After loading a truck, a shipping clerk often fills out a standard form and notes any missing items from the original order. The form is sent along with the shipment for receiving clerks at the destination to follow.
The education and training requirements to work as a receiving clerk vary between employers and job settings. Most companies require applicants to possess high school diplomas, or the equivalent, and be able to demonstrate basic math and organizational skills. Some employers prefer to hire clerks who have previous experience in customer service or inventory checking positions. A hopeful worker may also need to pass training courses to earn a forklift operator certification before he or she can start the job. New receiving clerks typically receive extensive on-the-job training from experienced workers for several days or weeks to learn about specific techniques, company policies, and procedures.
A successful receiving clerk may have the opportunity to advance to a supervisory position with enough time and experience on the job. A supervisor oversees all daily activities of the receiving department and develops new policies to improve efficiency. Some workers choose to pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in business, inventory management, or accounting to improve their credentials and qualify for administrative positions.