A receiving clerk usually has responsibility for two jobs that go hand-in-hand: shipping and receiving. However, if the clerk works in a large company, he may be responsible for only one of these jobs. Receiving clerks accept shipments of products purchased by the employer. Products received range from necessary office supplies, mechanical parts to repair machines used in production or even the raw materials used to make the company's products. The actual duties or job description of a shipping and receiving clerk may vary by company, but general responsibilities remain the same.
A receiving clerk generally works in a factory, a warehouse environment or for a large office that receives and sends items on a daily basis. He accepts and signs for shipments on behalf of the company for which he works. After receiving the items from the carrier, he opens the packages -- unless marked otherwise -- and checks to make sure the items are not damaged and then checks against the package's shipping list to ensure all items were received. If a purchase order was used to buy the received goods, he accesses the purchase order through his computer and compares it against the package's shipment. For damaged items, he does not receive them against the purchase order; he arranges to return them to the sender for replacement or reports them as defective to his immediate supervisor, depending upon internal procedures. He updates the received portion of the purchase order to indicate the date and time, as well as the items and quantity accepted. He could also use bar-code scanning equipment to log in items electronically.
After accepting the shipment and updating the purchase order appropriately, he may need to update the computer inventory for the item if the purchase order doesn't automatically do so. After finishing computer-related receiving tasks, he delivers the items to the appropriate departments or places them in the warehouse or storeroom. For raw materials, he may direct the shipping company to the appropriate location for drop-off and storage until use.
A shipping and receiving clerk makes arrangements for pickup of items that require shipping to customers, clients or third parties through approved carriers. He may receive a shipping requisition order manually or through the computer. He packages items for shipping as required by the carrier and according to the item being shipped. He signs off on shipping documents when the items leave the premises. He indicates the date and time shipped on the appropriate documents, physically, virtually or both.
Education and Experience
Job openings for shipping and receiving clerks generally require a high school education, a familiarity with computer and software systems, a valid driver's license and at least one year of experience in a factory, warehouse or office setting. Basic skills include the ability to read and write in English or the dominant language in the country, the ability to complete basic math problems and computations, as well as the skill to calculate shipping costs by carrier. He must know how to safely and securely package items for shipping to prevent damage.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the May 2012 mean annual wage of shipping and receiving clerks at $30,700 per year. Wages can also vary by region. District of Columbia clerks receive an annual mean wage of $45,260, while clerks in Alaska make $38,680 per year on average. Shipping and receiving clerks also work for shipping companies; department, grocery, hardware or home improvement stores; and fulfillment companies that process orders for online companies or mail-order houses.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.