Hand Laborer or Material Mover
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Salary Range: $30,000 to $39,999
Average Hourly: $ 14.43
Number of Jobs: 6215000
Jobs Added to 2029: 406500
Growth: As fast as average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Hand Laborers and Material Movers Do
Hand laborers and material movers typically do the following:
- Manually move material from one place to another
- Pack or wrap products by hand
- Keep a record of the material they move
- Signal machine operators to help move material
- Clean cars, equipment, and workplaces
In warehouses and in wholesale and retail operations, hand laborers and material movers work closely with material moving machine operators and material recording clerks. Some workers are employed in manufacturing industries, loading material onto conveyor belts or other machines.
The following are examples of types of hand laborers and material movers:
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment wash automobiles and other vehicles, as well as storage tanks, pipelines, and related machinery. They use cleaning products, vacuums, hoses, and brushes. Most of these workers clean cars at a carwash, an automobile dealership, or a rental agency. Some clean industrial equipment at manufacturing firms. Some—for example, those who work at a carwash, also known as carwash attendants—interact with customers.
Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers move materials to and from storage and production areas, loading docks, delivery trucks, ships, and containers. Although their specific duties may vary, most of these movers, often called pickers, work in warehouses. Some workers retrieve products from storage and move them to loading areas. Other workers load and unload cargo from a truck. When moving a package, pickers keep track of the package number, sometimes with a hand-held scanner, to ensure proper delivery. Sometimes they open containers and sort the material.
Hand packers and packagers package a variety of materials by hand. They may label cartons, inspect items for defects, and keep records of items packed. Some of these workers pack materials for shipment and move them to a loading dock. Hand packers in grocery stores, also known as grocery baggers, bag groceries for customers at checkout.
Machine feeders and offbearers process materials by feeding them into equipment or by removing them from equipment. The equipment is generally operated by other workers, such as material moving machine operators. Machine feeders and offbearers help the operator if the machine becomes jammed or needs minor repairs. Machine feeders also track the amount of material they process during a shift.
Refuse and recyclable material collectors gather garbage and recyclables from homes and businesses to transport to a dump, landfill, or recycling center. Many collectors lift garbage cans by hand and empty them into their truck. Some collectors drive the garbage or recycling truck along a scheduled route and may use a hydraulic lift to empty the contents of a dumpster into the truck.
Stockers and order fillers receive, unpack, and track merchandise. Stock clerks move products from a warehouse to store shelves. They keep a record of items that enter or leave the stockroom and inspect for damaged goods. These clerks also use handheld radio frequency identification (RFID) scanners to keep track of merchandise. Order fillers retrieve customer orders and prepare them to be shipped.
Most hand laborers and material movers work full time. Because materials are shipped around the clock, some workers, especially those in warehousing, work overnight shifts.
Work Environment Details
|Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand||2,821,700|
|Stockers and order fillers||2,223,000|
|Packers and packagers, hand||599,700|
|Cleaners of vehicles and equipment||367,200|
|Refuse and recyclable material collectors||140,500|
|Machine feeders and offbearers||63,000|
The largest employers of hand laborers and material movers were as follows:
|Transportation and warehousing||21%|
|Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services||14|
Hand laborers and material movers lift and carry heavy objects, and their work is usually repetitive and physically demanding. They bend, kneel, crouch, or crawl in awkward positions.
Injuries and Illnesses
Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers and refuse and recyclable material collectors have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Moving heavy objects around warehouses or onto trucks, or bending while cleaning a vehicle, may lead to sprains, strains, or overexertion.
Most hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers work full time.
Shifts longer than 8 hours are common, and sometimes overtime is available. Because materials are shipped around the clock, some workers, especially those in warehousing, work overnight shifts.
Overall employment of hand laborers and material movers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 941,100 openings for hand laborers and material movers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Hand Laborer or Material Mover
There are no formal educational requirements to become a hand laborer or material mover.
Most positions for hand laborers and material movers require less than 1 month of on-the-job training. Some workers need only a few days of training, and most training is done by a supervisor or a more experienced worker who decides when trainees are ready to work on their own.
Workers learn safety rules as part of their training. Many of these rules are standardized through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Refuse and recyclable material collectors who drive trucks that exceed a certain capacity—such as vehicles with the combined weight of the vehicle, passengers, and cargo exceeding 26,000 pounds—must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Obtaining a CDL requires passing written, skill, and vision tests.
Customer-service skills. Hand laborers and material movers who work with the public, such as grocery baggers or carwash attendants, must be pleasant and courteous to customers.
Hand–eye coordination. Most hand laborers and material movers use their arms and hands to manipulate objects or move objects into specific positions.
Listening skills. Hand laborers and material movers follow instructions that a supervisor gives them.
Physical stamina. Hand laborers and material movers need the endurance to perform strenuous tasks, such as moving or cleaning objects, throughout the day.
Physical strength. Some hand laborers and material movers must be able to lift and carry heavy objects.