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Training, Certifications, Skills, Advancement: Material Moving Occupations




Most material moving jobs require little work experience or specific training. Some employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma, but most simply require workers to be at least 18 years old and physically able to perform the work. For those jobs requiring physical exertion, employers may require that applicants pass a physical exam. Some employers also require drug testing or background checks before employment. These workers often are younger than workers in other occupations—reflecting the limited training but significant physical requirements of many of these jobs.

Material movers generally learn skills informally, on the job, from more experienced workers or supervisors. However, workers who use industrial trucks, other dangerous equipment, or handle toxic chemicals must receive specialized training in safety awareness and procedures. Many of the training requirements are standardized through the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This training usually is provided by the employer. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years.

Material moving equipment operators need a good sense of balance, distance judgment, and eye-hand-foot coordination. For those jobs that involve dealing with the public, such as grocery store courtesy clerks, workers should be pleasant and courteous. Most jobs require reading and basic mathematics skills to read procedures manuals and billing and other documents. Mechanical aptitude and high school training in automobile or diesel mechanics are helpful because workers may perform some maintenance on their equipment. Experience operating mobile equipment, such as tractors on farms or heavy equipment in the Armed Forces, is an asset. As material moving equipment becomes more automated, many workers will need basic computer and technical knowledge to operate the equipment.

Experience in many of these jobs may allow workers to qualify or become trainees for jobs such as construction trades workers; assemblers or other production workers; motor vehicle operators; or vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers. In many workplaces, new workers often work in a material moving position before being promoted to a better paying and more highly skilled job. Some may eventually advance to become supervisors.