Material recording clerks keep track of information in order to keep businesses and supply chains on schedule. They ensure proper scheduling, recordkeeping, and inventory control.
Material recording clerks typically do the following:
- Keep records of items shipped, received, or transferred to another location
- Compile reports on various aspects of changes in production or inventory
- Find, sort, or move goods between different parts of the business
- Check inventory records for accuracy
As warehouses increase their use of automation and computers, clerks will become more adept at using technology. Many clerks use tablets or hand-held computers to keep track of inventory. New sensors and tags enable these computers to automatically detect when and where products are moved, making clerks’ jobs more efficient.
Production, planning, and expediting clerks ease the flow of information, work, and materials within or among offices in a business. They compile reports on the progress of work and on any production problems that arise. These clerks set workers’ schedules, estimate costs, keep track of materials, and write special orders for new materials. They perform general office tasks, such as distributing mail, sending faxes, or entering data. Expediting clerks maintain contact with vendors to ensure that supplies and equipment are shipped on time. They also may inspect the quality of products.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks keep track of and record all outgoing and incoming shipments and ensure that they have been filled correctly. Many of these clerks scan barcodes with hand-held devices or use radiofrequency identification (RFID) scanners to keep track of inventory. They may ensure that orders were correctly processed in their company’s computer system. They also compute freight costs and prepare invoices for other parts of the organization. Some of these clerks move goods from the warehouse to the loading dock.
Stock clerks and order fillers receive, unpack, and track merchandise. Stock clerks move products from a warehouse to shelves in stores. They keep a record of all items that enter or leave the stockroom and inspect for damaged goods. These clerks also use hand-held scanners to keep track of merchandise. Order fillers retrieve customer orders and ready them to be shipped.
Material and product inspectors weigh, measure, check, sample, and keep accurate records on materials, supplies, and other equipment that enters a warehouse. They verify the quantity and quality of items they are assigned, checking for defects and recording what they find. To gather information, they use scales, counting devices, and calculators. Some inspectors decide what to do about a defective product, such as to scrap it or send it back to the factory to be repaired. Some clerks also prepare reports on warehouse inventory levels.
Material recording clerks held about 2.9 million jobs in 2012. They work in a variety of industries.
Stock clerks and order fillers held about 1.8 million jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most stock clerks and order fillers in 2012 were as follows:
|General merchandise stores||29%|
|Food and beverage stores||24|
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks held about 695,500 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks in 2012 were as follows:
|Transportation and warehousing||12|
Production, planning, and expediting clerks held about 284,700 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most production, planning, and expediting clerks in 2012 were as follows:
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||9|
|Administrative and support and waste management
and remediation services
Material and product inspectors held about 72,200 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most material and product inspectors clerks in 2012 were as follows:
|Administrative and support services||19%|
|Transportation and warehousing||10|
Most material recording clerks spend significant time in warehouses.
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks; production, planning, and expediting clerks; and material inspectors usually work in an office inside a warehouse or manufacturing plant.
Production clerks spend more of their time in their office, on the computer or telephone, setting up schedules or writing production reports.
Although shipping clerks and material inspectors prepare reports in an office, too, they also spend time in the warehouse, where they sometimes handle packages or automatic equipment such as conveyor systems.
Stock clerks and order fillers usually work in retail settings and sometimes help customers. They move items from the back room to the store’s shelves, a job that can involve frequent bending and lifting. However, automated devices usually transport heavy items.
Production, planning, and expediting clerks; shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks; and material inspectors usually work full time. Many have standard Monday-through-Friday shifts, although some work nights and weekends or holidays when large shipments arrive.
About one third of stock clerks and order fillers worked part-time in 2012. Evening and weekend work is common because these clerks work when retail stores are open. They sometimes work overnight shifts when large shipments arrive or it is time to take inventory.
Most workers must have a high school diploma and are trained on the job in under 6 moths.
Most material recording clerks must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Production, planning, and expediting clerks need to have some basic computer skills. Candidates who have taken some business classes may be given preference over those who have not.
Stock clerks and order fillers generally are not required to have a high school diploma.
Material recording clerks usually learn their work on the job. Training for stock clerks, shipping clerks, and material inspectors may last less than a month. The more complex the automatic equipment and sensors used in warehouses, the longer on-the-job training can take. For production clerks, training can take up to 6 months.
Typically, a supervisor or more experienced worker trains new clerks.
Clerks first learn to count stock and mark inventory and then move onto more difficult tasks, such as recordkeeping. Production clerks need to learn how their company operates before they can write production and work schedules.
With additional training or education, material recording clerks can advance to other, similar positions within their firm, such as purchasing agent. For more information, see the profile on purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents. Clerks in retail establishments can move into the sales department.
Clerical skills. Typing, filing, and recordkeeping are common tasks for most material recording clerks.
Communication skills. Production, planning, and expediting clerks are frequently in contact with suppliers, vendors, and production managers and need to be able to communicate the firm’s scheduling needs effectively..
Customer-service skills. Stock clerks sometimes interact with customers in retail stores and may have to get the item the customer is looking for from the storeroom.
Detail oriented. Material inspectors check items for defects, some of which are small and difficult to spot.
Math skills. Some types of material recording clerks are required to have basic math skills. For example, they might use math to calculate shipping costs or take measurements.
The median annual wage for material recording clerks was $24,810 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,340 and the top 10 percent earned more than $44,850.
Median wages for material recording clerk occupations in May 2012 were as follows:
- $43,740 for production, planning, and expediting clerks
- $29,010 for shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks
- $27,920 for material and product inspectors
- $22,050 for stock clerks and order fillers
Production, planning, and expediting clerks; shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks; and material inspectors usually work full time. Many have standard Monday-through-Friday shifts, although some work nights and weekends or holidays when large shipments arrive or inventory is taken.
About one third of stock clerks and order fillers are part-time employees. Evening and weekend work is common because these clerks work when retail stores are open. They sometimes work overnight shifts when large shipments arrive or it is time to take inventory.
Employment of shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks and employment of stock clerks and order fillers are both projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022.
An expected increase in the use of radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags will enhance the productivity of these two occupations. RFID tags allow stock clerks to locate an item or count inventory much faster than they previously could. In warehouses, both RFID tags and increased automation will affect shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks because each of these technologies will make it easier to keep track of material. The resulting increases in productivity will allow fewer clerks to do the same amount of work.
Employment of material and product inspectors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. RFID tags are expected to increase accuracy in shipping, reducing the number of times a product needs to be weighed, checked, or measured and, in turn, reducing the demand for material inspectors; however, these workers will be less affected than shipping or stock clerks. In addition, certain types of automation may do some of the job functions of material and product inspectors.
Employment of production, planning, and expediting clerks is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. These clerks are less likely to be affected by RFID or automation because they spend more time doing office work than shipping or stock clerks do. However, production clerks are employed mostly by slow-growing or declining manufacturing industries, a factor that will limit their growth.
There should be favorable job opportunities for material recording clerks because of the need to replace workers who leave these occupations. The increase in RFID and other sensors will enable clerks who are more comfortable with computers to have better job prospects.