What does a shipping clerk do?
A shipping clerk is responsible for ensuring all incoming and outgoing shipments are handled smoothly. A shipping clerk also manages all of a business’s products, supplies and materials and keeps them in order. As a shipping clerk, you’ll work in collaboration with several company teams, including logistics, warehousing and floor managers to process, track, trace, update and confirm delivery and receipt of all outgoing shipments and ensure a streamlined and seamless customer process. You’ll also make sure all incoming shipments are properly handled and distributed within the company.
Other common names for a shipping clerk include:
• Receiving Clerk
• Receiving Manager
• Shipping Coordinator
• Shipping and Receiving Clerk
• Shipping/Receiving Clerk
• Shipping, Receiving and Inventory Clerk
• Traffic Manager
What is the average salary of a shipping clerk?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2020, the mean annual salary for shipping clerks is approximately $37,210 and the median is $35,260. This breaks down to a mean hourly wage of $17.89 and a median of $16.95.
While a shipping clerk is considered an entry-level job, you can potentially increase your pay as you gain hands-on experience.
You can earn a higher salary working in certain industries than others. The highest-paying industries for shipping clerks include industrial and utility companies, and federal agencies.
Which end of the pay scale a shipping clerk job offers can depend on where the employer is located.
Wages in metropolitan vs. non-metropolitan areas
Wages for shipping clerks employed by companies located in metropolitan areas trend toward the higher end of the salary range for this position. Companies in non-metropolitan areas tend to pay closer to the lower end of the range.
Wages by state
Certain states pay shipping clerks more than others. In the 2020 BLS report, the states in which employers pay shipping clerks the most are:
- District of Columbia
Certifications help increase your shipping clerk salary
To increase your income potential and pave the way for career advancement, there are certain certifications relevant to a shipping clerk's role that you can pursue, most notably:
- Certified Professional in Inventory Management (CPIM) - From the Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS)
- Certified Professional in Supply Management - From the Institute for Supply Management (ISM)
- Certified Supply Chain Professional - From the Association for Operations Management
What industries hire shipping clerks?
Fortunately, you can find shipping, receiving and inventory clerks on the payrolls of most major corporations in virtually all industries.
Highest number of shipping clerks
According to the BLS, industries that hire the greatest numbers of shipping clerks include:
- Storage and warehousing
- Merchant wholesalers of durable goods
- Employment services
- Express delivery services and couriers
- Food and beverage stores
Industries with the greatest concentration of shipping clerks include:
- Allied product and leather manufacturing
- Local delivery and local messengers
- Mail-order houses and electronic shopping
- Apparel, notions and piece-goods merchant wholesalers
Industries that pay shipping clerks the highest wages include:
- Natural gas distribution
- Federal postal services
- Aerospace parts and product manufacturing
- Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)
- Electric power generations, distribution and transmission
Working as a shipping clerk
Working as a shipping clerk gives you an opportunity to work with others in a fast-paced environment. A shipping clerk role gives you the freedom to function independently without micromanagement. It does, however, require you to take accountability for all of a company’s incoming and outgoing shipments and its inventory. If any issues arise with a shipment, it is your responsibility to resolve those issues.
What are the responsibilities of a shipping clerk?
As a shipping clerk, many of your responsibilities will tie directly to the particular job and circumstances. However, all shipping clerks are accountable for ensuring every package is properly shipped in a timely manner, no missed deliveries or loss of goods occur, and that all incoming shipments are accurate and properly distributed in-house. To this end, most shipping clerk positions involve a few similar duties, which can be broken down into shipping duties and receiving duties.
Shipping duties include:
- Obtaining and processing product orders
- Recording all order details on the computer, such as weight, available space, charges and discrepancies
- Preparing routing documents
- Labeling packages with all necessary information
- Maintaining the stockroom, including keeping it clean, organized and properly cataloged
- Monitoring supplies and replenishing them as needed
- Managing any shipping or inventory issues that arise, such as documenting any damage to inventory
Receiving duties include receiving, registering and distributing incoming letters and packages throughout the company and ensuring current staff on hand can handle all shipments coming in. They also involve examining the contents of all shipments and comparing them with records to ensure accuracy.
Some shipping clerk responsibilities span both of these categories, such as:
- Keeping files of goods both shipped and received
- Scheduling and logistically planning large outgoing shipments so plenty of storage space exists for incoming shipments
- Regularly preparing shipping and receiving reports for management
- Ensuring the company adheres to environmental standards of systems and operations
What type of equipment do shipping clerks use?
As a shipping clerk, you’ll frequently be operating a computer and postage meter. Depending on the materials being shipped or received, you may also need to use power tools or hand tools to help you pack or unpack packages. You must also know how to operate basic warehouse equipment in case the need arises for you to assist the warehouse team. This equipment may include forklifts, scales and conveyor belts. For internally distributing letters and packages received, you might also work with a sorting bin and hand truck.
What is the work environment of a shipping clerk?
As a shipping clerk, you will mostly work indoors, though you may sometimes work in a warehouse with open doors. Normally, you’ll spend most of your time in an office and the storage room. The working environment for a shipping clerk is fast-paced with lots of communication with people in other departments, floor and warehouse managers, and logistics technicians. The job generally does not require travel or working on the road. It is not a job you can normally do from home or a hybrid context. You can find shipping clerk positions in both the public and private sectors.
Who are your colleagues as a shipping clerk?
As a shipping clerk, you will work closely with the company’s warehouse team to ensure each item for shipment is correctly labeled and packed. You’ll learn how to operate warehouse equipment like conveyor belts and scales in case any warehouse associate colleagues need your assistance. You’ll work with department managers, reviewing invoices and retrieving products. You’ll also work with logistics technicians to track outgoing shipments, trace and update their status and confirm their arrival.
What is the work schedule of a shipping clerk?
Normally a shipping clerk will work standard business operating hours with allowances to work before or after hours as needed to make sure all shipments are properly handled. In some settings, you may find your hours as a shipping clerk more aligned with the hours your carriers operate. Regardless of setting, if you work as a shipping clerk, you must expect you will sometimes have to work erratic hours with changing schedules as the need requires.
A job as a shipping clerk is usually a full-time position. Unless the business itself is open at odd hours like nights and weekends, you will generally not need to work those hours or on those days as a shipping clerk.
What is the career outlook for a shipping clerk?
As long as the need exists for companies to send and receive letters and packages, the need will exist for shipping clerks. Even in the face of increasing automation, human oversight will still be necessary to manage all the moving parts involved in shipping, receiving and inventory management, not least of which is communicating and collaborating with others, both within the company and outside of it. Shipping clerks can be promoted to supervisory positions, purchasing managers and logisticians.
What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a shipping clerk?
When you choose to work with Spherion, you'll enjoy advantages not available anywhere else. Do you want a job that offers the flexibility to work from home and spend more time with your family? Maybe you have a medical condition that prevents you from working in a standard office job. Spherion helps you find positions that use your skills and offer the flexibility you need. You have the chance to sign up for training opportunities to go beyond what you learned in school, plus a contact person who is always ready to answer any concerns or questions you have. At Spherion, you'll find a wide range of shipping clerk positions in cities across the country as well as jobs close to home.
As a Spherion shipping clerk you have a number of advantages, such as:
- Receiving weekly payments
- Scheduling flexibility
- A contact person you can always rely on for assistance
- Many training opportunities
- Access to a wide range of jobs in your area of expertise
What education do you need as a shipping clerk?
Fortunately, there is no educational requirement to get a job as a shipping clerk. However, many employers prefer someone in this role to have at least a high school diploma or its General Educational Development (GED) equivalent, and some prefer you have an associate’s degree. For most positions, you will need verifiable experience working as a shipping clerk or in a similar position.
Skills and competencies
To work as a shipping clerk, you will need to possess certain job-related skills, including:
- Computer skills
- Machine-operating knowledge and abilities
- Understanding of shipping routes and methods and supply chain logistics
- Ability to lift containers and items
- Scheduling flexibility
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
- Ability to keep calm and think clearly under pressure
- Strong organizational skills
- Decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Multitasking capability
- Close attention to detail
Shipping clerks handle all of a company’s incoming and outgoing shipments while managing its inventory. We answer frequently asked questions about becoming a shipping clerk below.