Warehouse managers are a vital part of the supply chain process. They oversee the efficient receipt, storage and dispatch of a wide range of goods including:
- healthcare products;
- manufacturing parts;
- household items.
They must manage people, processes and systems and make sure productivity targets are met. They also oversee the maintenance of warehouse and labour-management systems and may be involved in operating automated storage and retrieval systems.
Warehouse managers are responsible for workplace health and safety standards and for the security of the building and stock. In a large operation, they manage teams of workers through the use of team leaders and supervisors and deal with personnel issues such as the recruitment, training and discipline of staff.
Specialist warehouses involve the storage of temperature-controlled products, such as food and pharmaceuticals, and the storage of hazardous materials.
Work activities depend on the size of the operation.
In large storage operations, managers have a more strategic role and deal with planning, coordinating, administration and general management issues, which include the day-to-day supervision of staff and overseeing work organised by team leaders (who then report to the manager). In a small operation, a manager deals with more practical, 'hands-on' work.
Specific tasks carried out by a warehouse manager can include:
- liaising with customers, suppliers and transport companies;
- planning, coordinating and monitoring the receipt, order assembly and dispatch of goods;
- using space and mechanical handling equipment efficiently and making sure quality, budgetary targets and environmental objectives are met;
- having a clear understanding of the company's policies and vision and how the warehouse contributes to these;
- coordinating the use of automated and computerised systems where necessary;
- responding to and dealing with customer communication by email and telephone;
- keeping stock control systems up to date and making sure inventories are accurate;
- planning future capacity requirements;
- organising the recruitment and training of staff, as well as monitoring staff performance and progress;
- motivating, organising and encouraging teamwork within the workforce to ensure productivity targets are met or exceeded;
- producing regular reports and statistics on a daily, weekly and monthly basis;
- briefing team leaders on a daily basis;
- visiting customers to monitor the quality of service they are receiving;
- maintaining standards of health and safety, hygiene and security in the work environment, for example, ensuring that stock such as chemicals and food are stored safely;
- overseeing the planned maintenance of vehicles, machinery and equipment.
- Salaries for graduate-training schemes in warehouse management range from £18,000 to £25,000.
- Supervisor or junior management roles not part of a training scheme are usually in the region of £17,000 to £20,000.
- Experienced warehouse managers can earn £22,000 to £35,000, while senior managers can earn in excess of £40,000.
Salaries may be part of a package with a range of benefits including company car, staff discount, pension, life insurance and private health insurance.
Salaries vary depending on employer, sector, size of organisation and geographical location.
Income data from The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours typically include early starts, late finishes, weekends and shift work. Senior managers often work a more conventional week but may do long hours when necessary.
Working hours for most managers are heavier in high seasons; planning for Christmas within the retail sector begins during the summer and rises to a peak in December.
What to expect
- Work is divided between the shop floor, warehouse and the office, though this depends on the size of the operation.
- Freelance consultancy work may become possible with significant experience.
- Opportunities are available throughout the UK, commonly located within easy reach of motorways and rail, sea and air terminals.
- It may occasionally be necessary to travel during the working day.
- Overnight absence from home and overseas work or travel is uncommon, though there is scope to undertake overseas placements.
Graduates from any subject can enter warehouse management but the following subjects are particularly useful and relevant:
- transport, distribution or logistics;
- supply chain management;
- business, management or economics;
- retail management;
- operational research;
- business information systems;
- business with languages.
A foundation degree or HND in a similar subject may be helpful for warehouse management work.
Entry without a degree or HND/foundation degree is possible. Industry experience is still an important factor in recruitment, but employers increasingly prefer applicants with a degree. Some large companies offer graduate-training schemes for which a good first degree will typically be required.
Although a postgraduate qualification is not needed prior to entry, a Masters in logistics and supply chain management may help give you the edge with some employers, especially if the course provides placement opportunities to give you practical experience. Search for postgraduate courses in logistics and supply chain management.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK offers a range of qualifications for those entering the profession through to strategic management level. These qualifications range from a Level 1 Award to Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Transport and an online Masters degree offered in partnership with the University of South Wales. For more details, see CILT UK Qualifications.
On-the-job experience linked to professional qualifications provides a common entry route for post A-level entrants. Relevant CILT (UK) Level 3 Certificates are particularly useful.
You will need to have:
- excellent oral and written communication skills;
- numeracy and an understanding of finance;
- knowledge of the legal requirements of operating a warehouse;
- people management skills, including the ability to lead and motivate others, delegate work and explain ideas;
- planning and organising skills;
- teamworking ability;
- ability to inspire, motivate and lead a team of people;
- analytical ability;
- initiative and decisiveness;
- technical and IT skills, particularly database management and spreadsheets;
- problem-solving skills and an ability to work on a tactical and strategic level;
- the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.
Knowledge of foreign languages is becoming increasingly useful throughout the industry.
Although pre-entry experience is not needed, experience of working in a team and dealing with people in a warehouse setting will improve your chances. Retail experience and experience of working in a supervisory role may also be useful.
Try to get some vacation work or an industrial placement in a warehouse to test your suitability for this area of work. Consider a general warehouse position when starting out, for example, as a trainee supervisor with a smaller organisation. Experience in these jobs can lead to line-management positions.
Opportunities exist with a wide range of employers throughout the country, including:
- major retail and wholesale companies;
- manufacturing firms;
- warehousing and distribution firms;
- haulage contractors;
- freight forwarders;
- academic institutions;
- central and local government departments;
- the health service;
- the armed forces.
Increasingly, a number of companies across all these sectors, including the NHS, contract out their logistics activities to firms of specialist logistics service providers (LSPs) to manage all or part of their supply chain. These companies provide storage premises, materials, handling equipment and vehicles.
There are some opportunities for freelance consultancy work with small practices. This gives you the chance to work with many different organisations, and at various levels, depending on the nature of the project. Consultants may specialise in areas such as:
- supply-chain modelling;
- warehouse automation; and
- transport and distribution planning.
Lok for job vacancies at:
- Careers in Logistics
- CILT Logistics and Transport Jobs
- Logistics Manager
- Supply Chain Recruit
- Careers service vacancy lists.
- Local, national and trade press.
Vacancies are handled by specialist recruitment agencies such as:
Training varies from company to company. Some larger companies offer comprehensive graduate-training schemes. These usually last up to two years, with periods spent on rotation in various departments and locations, learning on the job and often studying at the same time for relevant professional qualifications.
Warehouse management can be seen as a specialism within the wider context of logistics, transport and supply chain management. This means that training, (especially with a large operator), is likely to include other areas, such as transport management and administration.
If you are not on a formal graduate-training scheme, you will typically learn on the job under the guidance of experienced supervisors and managers.
Many companies encourage their employees to take professional qualifications and there are many relevant courses available. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK offers the following, nationally accredited, qualifications:
- Level 3 Certificate in Logistics and Transport - to provide a solid foundation for a career within transport and supply chain management.
- Level 5 Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport - to enhance new and existing expertise and develop core management skills.
- Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Transport - to provide strategic management skills for professional development.
They also offer short courses, workshops and lectures, seminars and conferences. Find out more at CILT UK Qualifications.
Personal skills and qualities are highly valued in this area of work. Time spent developing communication, teamworking and negotiating skills, through in-house training courses and/or as part of continuing professional development (CPD), is likely to help career progression.
It is largely up to individuals to take responsibility for their own development, although companies often offer support in terms of secondments with partner organisations or by supporting additional relevant learning, qualifications or higher degrees.
Membership of a professional institute such as CILT (UK) demonstrates commitment to the profession and to lifelong learning.
It is possible to progress through the industry by gaining relevant experience in a range of settings and operations of different sizes. You will need to develop the key personal skills and qualities relevant to this area of work. There are opportunities to move towards either third-party logistics (3PL) organisations or in-house operations.
Vocational and professional qualifications will help in career development.
Opportunities for networking, professional development and access to the latest industry news is offered by The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK. Membership of a professional body such as this is useful for career development.
Career progression is generally through existing line-management structures. Willingness to relocate usually increases opportunities for progression. Senior positions involve business development and overseeing the efficient management of an organisation's other resources.
Experienced managers can move into other management posts throughout the wider logistics/supply chain management sector. Those with relevant qualifications and experience can use their skills in related sectors, such as retail or manufacturing.
There are also opportunities for experienced managers in Europe and other emerging global markets.