Companies that sell merchandise or who require a lot of supplies in order to conduct business sometimes use warehouses to store their goods. In order to track everything that the company keeps in these warehouses, businesses get help from inventory clerks. An inventory clerk is a worker who has physical and administrative duties related to tracking warehouse items. Their work benefits companies because it allows the companies to stay organized and have enough resources.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and a job description from Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc., warehouse inventory clerks process any incoming shipments to the warehouse, including keeping the receiving area clear. They compare what was received to the invoices the company has and put pricing and identification markers on the stock.
Warehouse inventory clerks put the stock in its proper place within the warehouse, retrieve it from those places as needed and prepare it for shipment (if applicable).
They may consult with administrators to complete purchase orders and make suggestions on what stock to purchase. Data entry and inventory logs are standard. In some cases, the warehouse inventory clerk may contact vendors to resolve inventory issues. It also is the responsibility of the warehouse inventory clerk to keep the warehouse clean for operation.
According to the BLS, stock clerks and order fillers such as warehouse inventory clerks don't need more than a high school diploma or equivalent. Because the position is entry-level, many warehouses train their inventory clerks on the job, but employers often look for warehouse inventory clerks who have some experience (anywhere from a month to five years) in inventory work. Warehouse inventory workers who need to operate machinery such as forklifts may need to take training courses on that equipment and procure appropriate licenses.
Warehouse inventory clerks work with numbers constantly because they have to keep accurate counts of the stock. They also have to be able to calculate the costs of the inventory and verify pricing shown on receipts. Thus, warehouse inventory clerks should be proficient in basic math. They should be knowledgeable in computers, especially database programs such as Excel. Warehouse inventory clerks need to be physically fit, as well, since they may be required to manually move stock.
Warehouses often are noisy and dusty. Warehouse inventory workers have to deal with this on top of the fact warehouses often lack air conditioning. Hazards such as stock stacked well overhead and shipping machinery malfunctions exist. Warehouse inventory clerks have to bend, stoop, twist, reach and lift routinely.
Stock workers like inventory workers can expect to make a median annual salary of $20,800 based on 2008 BLS data. This may not include perks such as health benefits.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.