Warehouse managers oversee the efficient receipt, storage and dispatch of a range of goods

Responsible for a vital part of the supply chain process, a warehouse manager manages people, processes and systems, in order to ensure goods are received and dispatched appropriately and productivity targets are met.

Warehouse managers are also responsible for workplace health and safety standards and for the security of the building and stock. Specialist warehouses involve the storage of temperature-controlled products, such as food and pharmaceuticals, and the storage of hazardous materials.

Responsibilities

As a warehouse manager, you'll need to:

  • liaise with customers, suppliers and transport companies
  • plan, coordinate and monitor the receipt, order, assembly and dispatch of goods
  • use space and mechanical handling equipment efficiently, making sure quality, budgetary targets and environmental objectives are met
  • have a clear understanding of the company's policies and vision and how the warehouse contributes to these
  • coordinate the use of automated and computerised systems where necessary
  • respond to and deal with customer communication by email and telephone
  • keep stock control systems up to date and make sure inventories are accurate
  • plan future capacity requirements
  • organise the recruitment and training of staff, as well as monitoring staff performance and progress
  • motivate, organise and encourage teamwork within the workforce to ensure productivity targets are met or exceeded
  • produce regular reports and statistics on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
  • brief team leaders on a daily basis
  • visit customers to monitor the quality of service they are receiving
  • maintain 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
  • oversee the planned maintenance of vehicles, machinery and equipment
  • where appropriate, oversee the maintenance and operation of warehouse management systems and automated storage and retrieval systems.

Salary

  • Salaries for graduate-training schemes in warehouse management range from £18,000 to £25,000.
  • Junior management roles that are not part of a graduate training scheme usually attract salaries 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 a company car, staff discount, pension, life insurance and private health insurance.

Income data from The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK. Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

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.
  • 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.
  • Freelance consultancy work may become possible with significant experience.

Qualifications

You can gain entry to a career in warehouse management with any degree but the following subjects are particularly useful and relevant:

  • business information systems
  • business with languages
  • business, management or economics
  • operational research
  • retail management
  • supply chain management
  • transport, distribution or logistics.

A foundation degree or HND in a similar subject may be helpful for warehouse management work.

Entry without a degree, HND or 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.

Qualifications offered by the CILT (UK) are suitable for those entering the profession through to strategic management level.

On-the-job experience linked to professional qualifications provides a common entry route for post A-level entrants. Relevant CILT (UK) Level 3 Certificates, such as the Certificate in Logistics and Transport, are particularly useful.

Skills

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
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • the ability to inspire, motivate and lead a team of people
  • analytical ability
  • initiative and decisiveness
  • enthusiasm
  • technical and IT skills, particularly when it comes to database management and spreadsheets
  • problem-solving skills and the ability to work on a tactical and strategic level
  • the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.

Work experience

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.

Employers

Opportunities exist with a range of employers throughout the country, including:

  • academic institutions
  • the armed forces
  • central and local government departments
  • freight forwarders
  • haulage contractors
  • the health service
  • major retail and wholesale companies
  • manufacturing firms
  • warehousing and distribution firms.

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
  • transport and distribution planning
  • warehouse automation.

Lok for job vacancies at:

Vacancies are handled by specialist recruitment agencies such as:

Professional development

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 CILT (UK) offers a range of nationally-accredited qualifications, and also short courses, workshops and lectures, seminars and conferences.

Career prospects

You can progress through the industry by gaining relevant experience in a range of settings and operations of different sizes. There are opportunities to move towards either third-party logistics (3PL) organisations, which provide outsourced logistics services, or in-house operations.

Gaining vocational and professional qualifications will help your career development.

As you gain experience, you can move into other management posts throughout the wider logistics/supply chain management sector.

There are also opportunities for experienced managers in Europe and other emerging global markets. Being able to speak a foreign language would be useful if you are looking for opportunities abroad.