Despite little or no change in employment, numerous job openings will be created by the need to replace workers who leave this very large occupation.
Employment in material moving occupations is projected to decline by 1 percent between 2008 and 2018. Improvements in equipment, such as automated storage and retrieval systems and conveyors, and in supply management processes, such as automatic identification and data collection (AIDC), will continue to raise productivity and reduce the demand for material movers.
Job growth for material movers depends on the growth or decline of employing industries and the type of equipment the workers operate or the materials they handle. Employment should grow in the warehousing and storage industry as more firms contract out their warehousing functions to this industry. Opportunities for material movers should decline in manufacturing due to productivity improvements and outsourcing of warehousing and other activities that depend on material movers. Opportunities will vary by establishment size as well, as large establishments are more likely to have the resources to invest in automated systems for their material moving needs. Although increasing automation will eliminate some routine tasks, many jobs will remain to meet the need to operate and maintain new equipment.
Despite the projected employment decline, a relatively high number of job openings will be created by the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave this very large occupation for other reasons—characteristic of occupations requiring little prior or formal training. Many industries where material moving workers are employed are sensitive to changes in economic conditions, so the number of job openings fluctuates with the economy.
Material movers held 4.6 million jobs in 2008. They were distributed among the detailed occupations as follows:
|Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
|Packers and packagers, hand
|Industrial truck and tractor operators
|Cleaners of vehicles and equipment
|Refuse and recyclable material collectors
|Machine feeders and offbearers
|Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators
|Crane and tower operators
|Conveyor operators and tenders
|Tank car, truck, and ship loaders
|Pump operators, except wellhead pumpers
|Loading machine operators, underground mining
|Gas compressor and gas pumping station operators
|Shuttle car operators
|Hoist and winch operators
|Material moving workers, all other
About 29 percent of all material movers worked in the wholesale trade or retail trade industries. Another 20 percent worked in manufacturing; 17 percent were in transportation and warehousing; 4 percent were in construction and mining; and 12 percent worked in the employment services industry, on a temporary or contract basis. For example, companies that need workers for only a few days, to move materials or to clean up a site, may contract with temporary help agencies specializing in providing suitable workers on a short-term basis. A small proportion of material movers were self-employed.
Material movers work in every part of the country. Some work in remote locations on large construction projects such as highways and dams, while others work in factories, warehouses, or mining operations.
Job Zone 1 - Little or no preparation needed
No previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience
is needed. For example, you can become a general office
clerk even if you haven't worked in an office.
These occupations may require a high school diploma or GED
certificate. Some may require a formal training course to
obtain a license.
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few days
to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker
could show you how to do the job.
Bus drivers, forest and conservation workers, general office
clerks, home health aides, and waiters/waitresses.
These occupations often involve following instructions and
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Information on training and apprenticeships for industrial truck operators is available from:
- International Union of Operating Engineers, 1125 17th St. NW., Washington, DC 20036. Internet: http://www.iuoe.org
Information on crane and derrick operator certification and licensure is available from:
- National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, 2750 Prosperity Ave., Suite 505, Fairfax, VA 22031. Internet: http://www.nccco.org
Information on safety and training requirements is available from:
- U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 200 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20210. Internet: http://www.osha.gov
- Mine Safety and Health Administration, 1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209-3939. Internet: http://www.msha.gov
For information about job opportunities and training programs, contact local State employment service offices, building or construction contractors, manufacturers, and wholesale and retail establishments.
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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