Hand laborers and material movers manually move freight, stock, or other materials. Others feed or remove material to or from machines, clean vehicles, pick up unwanted household goods, and pack materials for moving.Duties
Hand laborers and material movers typically do the following:
In warehouses and 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, where they load material onto conveyor belts or other machines.
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 car wash, an automobile dealership, or a rental agency. Some clean industrial equipment at manufacturing firms. Some—for example, those who work at a car wash—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. Many hand packers are employed by grocery stores, where they 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 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. When collecting materials from a dumpster, drivers use a hydraulic lift to empty the contents of the dumpster into their truck.
Formal education is not usually required to become a hand laborer or material mover. Employers typically require only that applicants be physically able to perform the work.Education
There are no formal education requirements to become a hand laborer or material mover.Training
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 & 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.Important Qualities
Customer-service skills. Hand laborers and material movers who work with the public, such as grocery baggers or car wash 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 workers must be able to lift and carry heavy objects.
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As you move along in your career, you may start taking on more responsibilities or notice that you've taken on a leadership role. Using our career map, a machine feeder can determine their career goals through the career progression. For example, they could start out with a role such as machine operator, progress to a title such as driver and then eventually end up with the title superintendent.
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Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a machine feeder. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island. Machine feeders make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $37,703. Whereas in Illinois and Iowa, they would average $34,989 and $34,627, respectively. While machine feeders would only make an average of $32,665 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.