Warehouse Supervisor Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a warehouse supervising career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a warehouse supervisor is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Warehouse Supervisor

Warehouse supervisors help coordinate and manage the personnel, inventory and workflow within warehouses. Here are the pros and cons of becoming a warehouse supervisor:

Pros of a Warehouse Supervising Career
High school diploma is sufficient for most positions**
Solid earning potential for education requirements (median salary of about $52,000)**
Diversity of job tasks (loading orders, training employees, record keeping)*
On-the-job training is usually provided by the employer***

Cons of a Warehouse Supervising Career
Higher-than-average risk of injury***
High pressure to ensure employees are properly trained***
Complex set of responsibilities (required to do labor of normal employees plus management work)***
Strenuous physical work (lifting and carrying heavy objects)*

Sources: *Iowa Department of Administrative Services, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Graziadio Business Review

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Warehouse supervisors have more responsibilities than just overseeing personnel. These supervisors coordinate loading operations, keep track of inventory and inspect shipments to ensure accuracy. They're generally required to maintain an efficient operation while also meeting tight deadlines.

A supervisor is typically expected to lead by example, which means working harder and longer than the workers he or she supervises. Many of the supervisors' duties are similar to those of managers' and include disciplining workers, making schedules and evaluating the performance of employees. Due to the hazards that are present in a warehouse, supervisors must also be able to train employees how to properly operate machinery and to make sure all safety precautions are taken to minimize the risk of injury.

Salary and Career Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of first-line supervisors of helpers, laborers, and material movers (the general group which also lists warehousing and storage supervisors) in 2014 was $52,070. The BLS predicted a 9% growth over the decade of 2012-2022, which is about equal to the national average for all jobs. You may qualify for some additional benefits on top of your base pay, such as healthcare, a pension and paid time off.

Career Paths

Since so many different businesses utilize warehouses, a warehouse supervisory position is not restricted to a particular industry or field. Some of the common industries that need warehouse supervisors include transportation, logistics, food service, retail, manufacturing and auto parts. Although the work may be similar in most of these fields, you may need to have some training that is specific to the particular industry you work in.

Career Skills and Requirements

Education

You need a high school diploma to become a warehouse supervisor. Most employers will train you after you've been hired. If you're interested in formal training, there are several associate's and bachelor's degree programs that could teach you the fundamental skills of warehouse supervision. Some of the programs you may want to check out include supply chain management and logistics. If an entire degree program seems too extensive (not to mention the high costs of a full program), you could take a course that teaches you management skills for warehouses.

Useful Skills

There are some skills that you'll need regardless of the particular industry or field you choose. Since supervising positions require a tremendous amount of coordination and organizing, you'll need to be able to handle stressful situations and to communicate effectively. Supervisors who are adept at quickly learning new technologies and have great problem-solving skills will likely have the best opportunities for jobs. Other qualities that employers are looking for include the ability to adapt to different working conditions and tasks, to work effectively in a team, to lead a team of workers in a pressure-packed environment and to exhibit strong interpersonal skills.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers generally prefer candidates who have several years of supervisory experience in warehousing and are flexible enough to work in a fast-paced environment. Although this is not a complete picture of the job market, here is a sample of advertisements posted by actual employers in March 2012:

  • A Montana logistics company advertised for a warehouse supervisor to coordinate storage, shipping and receiving activities. Applicants should have had at least three years of experience in distribution and have strong communication skills.
  • A distribution company advertised for an experienced warehouse supervisor with a forklift certification at its Chicago branch. Candidates must have had a high school diploma, although a bachelor's degree was preferred.
  • A global logistics company in Indiana looked for a warehouse supervisor who would lead up to 35 employees. Responsibilities included completing inventory reports, training employees and maintaining a safe work environment. Applicants needed a bachelor's degree in logistics or a sufficient combination of work experience and education.

How to Stand Out

Get More Education

One way to get an edge over the crowd of other aspiring warehouse supervisors is by completing a bachelor's degree in logistics, supply chain management or a related field. Keep in mind that a bachelor's degree does not guarantee a job, and you'll want to consider all of your options before you spend the time and money it takes to get a degree. Some colleges and universities offer seminars specifically tailored for warehouse supervisors. A typical course on warehouse supervision covers a variety of topics, such as employee motivation, development of a discipline policy and maximizing productivity.

Get Certified

In addition to postsecondary education, you could pursue a number of professional certifications that could give you an edge. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the Association for Operations Management (APICS) both provide an array of designations to individuals seeking expertise in a specialized area of logistics and supply chain management. Designation options include the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional, the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management and the Certified in Supply Management from ISM. Some designations only require experience, while others are designed for professionals who have a bachelor's degree.

Other Careers to Consider

Expediting Clerk

If the physical strain of working in a warehouse seems like too much for you, consider becoming an office clerk. These professionals are responsible for a variety of tasks, including ordering materials, answering phones and maintaining inventory systems.

With only a high school diploma, you should have solid job prospects. The BLS projected that office clerks would see a 17% increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020. Although the education requirements are low and the job outlook is good, the BLS found that these workers only earned an average salary of about $29,000 in 2011.

Truck Driver

If you're looking for a job similar to warehouse supervisor but you're interested in traveling as well, then perhaps you should check out becoming a truck driver. Truck drivers typically travel long distances to deliver products. You'd be responsible for loading and unloading cargo, keeping a daily log and inspecting inventory. You might be required to work nights, weekends and holidays, but you typically only need a high school diploma and a Commercial Driver's License.

According to the BLS, truck drivers should have good job prospects, with a projected job growth of 21% from 2010-2020. In 2011, the BLS reported that truck drivers earned an average salary of approximately $40,000.

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George Mason University

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Grand Canyon University

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  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
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Herzing University

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American InterContinental University

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