Job Descriptions, Definitions Roles, Responsibility: Material Recording, Scheduling, Dispatching, and Distributing Occupations

Workers in this group are responsible for a variety of communications, recordkeeping, and scheduling operations. Typically, they coordinate, expedite, and track orders for personnel, materials, and equipment.

Cargo and freight agents route and track cargo and freight shipments, whether from airline, train, or truck terminals or from shipping docks. They keep records of any missing or damaged items and any excess supplies. The agents sort cargo according to its destination and separate items that cannot be packed together. They also coordinate payment schedules with customers and arrange for the pickup or delivery of freight.

Couriers and messengers deliver letters, important business documents, or packages within a firm to other businesses or to customers. They usually keep records of deliveries and sometimes obtain the recipientís signature. Couriers and messengers travel by car, van, or bicycle, or even by foot when making nearby deliveries.

Dispatchers receive requests for service and initiate action to provide that service. Duties vary with the needs of the employer. Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called public safety dispatchers, handle calls from people reporting crimes, fires, and medical emergencies. Truck, bus, and train dispatchers schedule and coordinate the movement of these vehicles to ensure that they arrive at the appointed time. Taxicab dispatchers relay requests for cabs to individual drivers, tow-truck dispatchers take calls for emergency road service, and utility company dispatchers handle calls related to utility and telephone service. Courier and messenger service dispatchers route drivers, riders, and walkers around a (usually urban) designated area. They distribute work by radio, e-mail, or phone, making sure that service deadlines are met.

Meter readers read meters and record the consumption of electricity, gas, water, or steam. They serve a variety of consumers and travel along designated routes to track consumption. Although numerous meters still are read at the house or building that receives the utilityís service, many newer meters can be read remotely from a central point. Meter readers also look for evidence of unauthorized utility usage.

Production, planning, and expediting clerks coordinate and expedite the flow of information, work, and materials, usually according to a production or work schedule. They gather information for reports on the progress of work and on production problems. They also may schedule workers or shipments of parts, estimate costs, and keep inventories of materials.

Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks track all incoming and outgoing shipments of goods transferred among businesses, suppliers, and customers. These clerks may be required to lift cartons of various sizes. Shipping clerks assemble, address, stamp, and ship merchandise or materials. Receiving clerks unpack, verify, and record information on incoming merchandise. Traffic clerks record the destination, weight, and cost of all incoming and outgoing shipments. In a small company, one clerk may perform all of these tasks. (Postal Service workers sort and deliver mail for the United States Postal Service. While these workers are classified as material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distributing workers and are included in the estimate of employment for this occupational group, they are discussed in detail elsewhere in the Handbook.) Stock clerks and order fillers receive, unpack, and store materials and equipment, and maintain and distribute inventories. In wholesale and retail establishments, inventories may include merchandise; in other kinds of organizations, inventory may include equipment, supplies, or materials. In small firms, stock clerks and order fillers may perform all of the preceding tasks, as well as those usually handled by shipping and receiving clerks. In large establishments, stock clerks and order fillers may be responsible for only one task.

Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers check and record the weight and measurement of various materials and equipment. They use scales, measuring and counting devices, and calculators to compare weights, measurements, or other specifications against bills or invoices. They also prepare reports on inventory levels.

(This introductory section is followed by sections that provide more detail on cargo and freight agents; couriers and messengers; dispatchers; utility meter readers; production, planning, and expediting clerks; shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks; stock clerks and order fillers; and weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers.)