Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks
- Many shipping, receiving, and traffic clerk positions are
at the entry level and do not require more than a high school
- Slower-than-average employment growth is expected, as a result
of increasing automation and the growing use of computers to
store and retrieve shipping and receiving records.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks keep records of all goods
shipped and received. Their duties depend on the size of the establishment
they work for and the level of automation used. Larger companies
typically are better able to finance the purchase of computers
and other equipment to handle some or all of a clerk’s responsibilities.
In smaller companies, a clerk maintains records, prepares shipments,
and accepts deliveries. In both environments, shipping, receiving,
and traffic clerks may lift cartons of various sizes.
Shipping clerks keep records of all outgoing shipments.
They prepare shipping documents and mailing labels and make sure
that orders have been filled correctly. Also, they record items
taken from inventory and note when orders were filled. Sometimes
they fill the order themselves, obtaining merchandise from the
stockroom, noting when inventories run low, and wrapping or packing
the goods in shipping containers. They also address and label
packages, look up and compute freight or postal rates, and record
the weight and cost of each shipment. In addition, shipping clerks
may prepare invoices and furnish information about shipments to
other parts of the company, such as the accounting department.
Once a shipment is checked and ready to go, shipping clerks may
move the goods from the plant—sometimes by forklift—to the shipping
dock and direct their loading.
Receiving clerks perform tasks similar to those of shipping
clerks. They determine whether orders have been filled correctly
by verifying incoming shipments against the original order and
the accompanying bill of lading or invoice. They make a record
of the shipment and the condition of its contents. In many firms,
receiving clerks either use hand-held scanners to record barcodes
on incoming products or manually enter the information into a
computer. These data then can be transferred to the appropriate
departments. The shipment is checked for any discrepancies in
quantity, price, and discounts. Receiving clerks may route or
move shipments to the proper department, warehouse section, or
stockroom. They also may arrange for adjustments with shippers
whenever merchandise is lost or damaged. Receiving clerks in small
businesses may perform some duties similar to those of stock clerks.
In larger establishments, receiving clerks may control all receiving
platform operations, such as scheduling of trucks, recording of
shipments, and handling of damaged goods.
Traffic clerks maintain records on the destination, weight,
and charges on all incoming and outgoing freight. They verify
rate charges by comparing the classification of materials with
rate charts. In many companies, this work may be automated. Information
either is scanned or is entered by hand into a computer for use
by the accounting department or other departments within the company.
Traffic clerks also keep a file of claims for overcharges and
for damage to goods in transit.
Most jobs for shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks involve
frequent standing, bending, walking, and stretching. Some lifting
and carrying of smaller items also may be involved. Although automated
devices have lessened the physical demands of this occupation,
their use remains somewhat limited. The work still can be strenuous,
even though mechanical material-handling equipment is employed
to move heavy items.
The typical workweek is Monday through Friday; however, evening
and weekend hours are common in some jobs and may be required
in other jobs when large shipments are involved.
|Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Many shipping, receiving, and traffic clerk positions are at
the entry level and do not require more than a high school diploma.
Employers, however, prefer to hire those familiar with computers
and other electronic office and business equipment.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks usually learn the job
by doing routine tasks under close supervision. They first learn
how to count and mark stock, and then they start keeping records
and taking inventory. Strength, stamina, good eyesight, and an
ability to work at repetitive tasks, sometimes under pressure,
are important characteristics. Shipping, receiving, and traffic
clerks who handle jewelry, liquor, or drugs may be bonded.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks check items to be shipped
and attach labels to them, making sure that the addresses are
correct. Training in the use of automated equipment usually is
done informally, on the job. As these occupations become more
automated, however, workers in them may need longer periods of
training to master the use of the equipment. Advancement opportunities
for shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks vary with the place
of employment. Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks are promoted
to head clerk, and those with a broad understanding of shipping
and receiving may enter a related field, such as industrial traffic
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks held about 751,000 jobs
in 2004. Almost three out of four were employed in manufacturing
or by wholesale and retail establishments. Although jobs for shipping,
receiving, and traffic clerks are found throughout the country,
most clerks work in urban areas, where shipping depots in factories
and wholesale establishments usually are located.
Employment of shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks is expected
to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through
2014. Job growth will continue to be limited by automation as
all but the smallest firms move to reduce labor costs by using
computers to store and retrieve shipping and receiving records.
Methods of handling materials have changed significantly in recent
years. Large warehouses are increasingly becoming automated, with
equipment such as computerized conveyor systems, robots, computer-directed
trucks, and automatic data storage and retrieval systems. Automation,
coupled with the growing use of hand-held scanners and personal
computers in shipping and receiving departments, has increased
the productivity of shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks.
Despite technology, job openings will continue to arise because
of increasing economic and trade activity and because certain
tasks cannot be automated. For example, someone needs to check
shipments before they go out and when they arrive, to ensure that
everything is in order. In addition, openings will occur because
of the need to replace shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks
who leave the occupation. Because this is an entry-level occupation,
many vacancies are created by a worker’s normal career progression.
Median annual earnings of shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks
in May 2004 were $24,400. The middle 50 percent earned between
$19,600 and $30,720. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,290,
and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,610.
These workers usually receive the same benefits as most other
workers. If uniforms are required, employers generally provide
them or offer an allowance to purchase them.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks record, check, and often
store materials that a company receives. They also process and
pack goods for shipment. Other workers who perform similar duties
are stock clerks and order fillers; production, planning, and
expediting clerks; cargo and freight agents; and Postal Service
|Sources of Additional Information
Information about job opportunities may be obtained from local
employers and local offices of the State employment service.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition