All about SURESTAFF Warehouse and Distribution Center Associates General Labor

SURESTAFF Warehouse and Distribution Center Associate Workers

What do SURESTAFF Warehouse and Distribution Center Associate Workers/General Labor Associates do?

At SURESTAFF, we are dedicated to connecting quality employees with light industrial and manufacturing employers.  SURESTAFF staffing agency offers numerous temp-to-hire, temporary and direct hire warehouse job opportunities for people seeking to jumpstart a new career or build upon existing skills.   SURESTAFF serves manufacturing, warehouse, and distribution center customers, while empowering individuals to maximize basic skills in order to achieve long term career satisfaction in a light industrial setting.  Experience is not necessarily required! Warehouse and distribution center workers are assigned to handle various tasks that involve managing goods and products as they enter and exit warehouses and distribution centers. You can learn more by downloading our free guide.

What is the difference between a warehouse and a distribution center, the light industrial sectors that encompasses and manages the supply chain and distribution of goods and services?  The overarching services of both the warehouse and distribution center involves storing inventory and shipping orders, however, the difference is in whom they serve and how long they store products.

What is a warehouse center vs a distribution center?

A warehouse center is a B2B (Business to Business) inventory storage facility ranging upwards from 10,000 square feet and varying in design to accommodate functional inventory management of goods stored.  These goods are housed for businesses such as retailers, distribution centers and wholesalers that have a long term need for inventory storage.

A distribution center is part of a network that is located near its customers, the retail store.  Distribution centers serve B2B (Business to Business) customers who have a need for inventory storage, however, the difference is in the amount of time the inventory is stored.  A distribution center stores goods (inventory), for short periods of time.  Also, the customer serviced is mostly the retail store and e-commerce fulfilment centers.  A distribution center receives inventory, where products are processed and moved onto pallets by forklift operators and then sent on to the customer.  Distribution centers also ship items to fulfillment centers for e-commerce customers.

What are the job roles for warehouse associates and distribution center associates also known as general labor associates?

Warehouse associates or general labor associates, are involved in the shipping and receiving of goods, quality assurance and inventory control, the essential warehouse staff labor.  Warehouse jobs and distribution job categories involve picking, pulling, and preparing orders for shipment while maintaining an organized area.  Process inbound and outbound shipments.   Load and unload pallets.  Scan items into inventory control systems.  Safely and efficiently use warehouse equipment including forklift, pallet jack, hydraulic jack, RF Scanner, computers, and handheld printers. Perform cleaning and maintenance duties as needed.

Distribution center staffing associates are responsible for operating material handling equipment for the purpose of receiving, moving, locating, relocating, and shipping merchandise.  Load and unload inbound and outbound shipments inside the facility.  Job functions involves verifying the accuracy of quantity and quality of deliveries and shipments. Performs picking/packing duties in an efficient and safe manner while meeting customer service and time standards. Labeling every product and moving them accordingly within the distribution center. Handle returns by completing technical documentation and other required communication.  Keep all material handling equipment in the best condition by conducting regular maintenance.

What are the requirements for becoming a warehouse and distribution center associate or general labor associate?

Previous experience in production, manufacturing, assembling environments, and/or forklift experience is a plus. Forklift operators must have certification and previous experience operating a forklift.  At least one-year experience in a warehouse environment is required.  High attention to detail and safety/compliance is mandatory.  While most entry-level warehouse positions do not have education requirements, a diploma/GED is usually needed to be considered for leadership and supervisory positions.

What is the average salary for a warehouse and distribution center associate or general labor associate?

The average hourly salary range is from $10-$22 per hour, depending on the position requirements and location of the job. Warehouse jobs in Chicago, for example, have a higher average pay rate because cost of living is higher than surrounding suburbs such as East Dundee, Huntley, and DeKalb.

How is performance measured?

A warehouse manager will set specific and personal KPIs (key performance indicators) that will measure job performance such as the picked/packed/delivered items per man/woman per hour, replenishment orders per man/woman per hour.  Volume received per man/woman per hour.  Time taken to process each order/goods/inventory or cycle time.  Accurate receipts percentage.  Receiving dock door utilization percentage and the cost of receiving per line.  These metrics are usually tracked in real time using an inventory control system so managers are able to access employee and team performance quickly.  Other performance measures include adherence to safety standards, attendance, and willingness to work as a team.

Career path/growth opportunities within light industrial warehouse and distribution centers?

Warehouse and distribution center entry level positions can be a path to growth and new career opportunities.  Training and certifications through entry-level positions can lead to a managerial role.  Material mover/handlers associates is one such entry level opportunity that can transform into a bigger role within a warehouse/distribution center.  Material movers/handlers take charge of moving goods and freight.  Material movers/handlers use equipment such as forklifts and pallet jacks to facilitate the movement of inventory, and accept deliveries from trucks. A material mover, assists in packing and loading goods as well as maintaining warehouse layouts.

Warehouse clerks are essential to the supply chain management and help track products, monitor inventory and help with scheduling deliveries. As a material recording clerk, responsibilities includes inspecting deliveries, handle defective products, develop inventory charts and/or analyze supply chain data.

Certifications may help propel an entry level associate to a warehouse managerial position.  In many cases, warehouse managers need certifications to operate heavy equipment like forklifts and aerial lifts. Certification accreditation requires a combination of a written exam and a practical test. Many employers provide these certification programs regularly and it helps to inquire about the possibilities.

Job trends 2021 outlook

According to, most labor market measures are more than halfway back to pre-pandemic levels.  America still faces a long road back to economic recovery despite the strong rebound. The coronavirus recession was different from other downturns, with service jobs suffering most and much of the job loss temporary.  The rebound of the 2021 labor market depends on the path of the virus, politics and policy in the new administration.

How to find warehouse jobs and what you will need to be become a warehouse and distribution center associate

  • Previous warehouse experience and/or training preferred.
  • High attention to detail and safety/compliance.
  • Demonstrate good communication skills, problem-solving skills, and sound judgement.
  • Ability to work overtime as needed.

For job opportunities in light industrial, warehouse, or distribution center, please contact one of our locations in Illinois, Indiana or Wisconsin or call 1-833-SURE-WORK.