What is a picker/packer?

If you’ve ever considered warehouse work, you may have seen the job title “picker/packer.”  You may also have found job titles that just say “packer” or “picker.” If you found yourself asking, “What is a picker/packer?” you’re not alone — it’s not easy to tell what it means by the name itself.

At a high level, a picker/packer is a person in a warehouse who “picks” the products to fulfill an order, then packs them to be delivered. These can be items shipped to a customer, or a different part of the business (like a manufacturing plant or retail store).

In this article, we'll answer questions like what is a picker/packer, what does it take to become one, and how much money do pickers/packers make? And if you’re interested in being a picker/packer or other warehouse work, check out Instawork to find plenty of shifts, often at above-average pay.

What does a picker/packer do?

The short answer to “what is a picker-packer” is that it’s an entry-level position in a warehouse. A picker/packer is a person who fulfills each order by hand. 

A typical shift for a picker/packer might start by receiving a printed or digital list of orders that need to ship. Then, they’ll go through the warehouse to find the specific items (and numbers of items) requested. Once they’ve assembled the order, it will be time to pack the items. This might involve adding cushioning materials like bubble wrap or packing peanuts, then taping the package shut and adding the right label or labels so it’s ready to ship. As the last step, they will update the records to show that the order has been fulfilled.

Skills you’ll need to be a picker/packer

If you’ve been asking “what is a picker packer,” you may also want to know what it takes to become one. As a picker/packer, you’ll be on your feet all day, so you’ll need to be able to stand for long periods of time. You’ll also need physical strength to lift and carry boxes without too much difficulty. But the bulk of your work will be selecting the correct items and preparing them for shipment.

Here are a few other skills and qualities that make for a good picker/packer:

  • Detail-oriented: As a picker/packer, you need to see to it that every item in the order is correct. You’ll need to pay attention to details like item sizes, colors, or features depending on the product.
  • Basic technical skills: Don’t worry — you won’t need to code or spend all day on the computer. But you should be able to enter data, and use tools like a scanner and inventory management system to locate items.
  • Strong work ethic: Picker/packer shifts can be long, especially around the holidays. You’ll need to stay focused and on your feet for hours at a time.
  • Teamwork: Good communication and collaboration is essential to keep warehouses safe and productive. Being able to talk to your team and asking for help when needed will help keep you safe, and help you do your job better.
  • A critical eye: A picker/packer is in direct contact with the products the company sells, so they’re in the position to spot and report any manufacturing and quality issues, as well as problems others might miss. Plus, you don’t want to send an order with a faulty item.

Being certified to operate warehouse machinery could also make you a more attractive candidate, but it’s not strictly necessary to be a picker/packer.

And as with any other job, you’ll need to be reliable, show up on time, and stay organized. Other than that, you’ll want to have strong soft skills. These include clear communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. Many warehouses are fast-paced, so you’ll need to think on your feet and achieve your quotas without having your handheld the whole time.

Requirements & qualifications to be a picker/packer

It always varies from warehouse to warehouse, but picker/packer jobs may have particular requirements. You might see the job description list requirements like:

  • A high-school diploma or GED certificate
  • A driver’s license
  • Warehouse-specific training, including safety or compliance
  • Ability to lift a certain amount of weight, often anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds 

You also want a good understanding of warehouse basics to feel confident going in.

Other warehouse roles 

What’s great about being a picker/packer is that you don’t need a lot of experience to get started. And every industry with a warehouse is an opportunity for you. Since being a picker/packer is an entry-level job, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain experience and work your way up if you’re interested in warehouses. 

Another common warehouse role is the warehouse clerk. A clerk is a person who keeps the warehouse organized for everyone else. Clerks enter the inventory into the system, which needs to be updated any time an order is prepared. They also pass down placed orders to the picker/packer for packaging.

There’s also the warehouse associate position. What is the difference between a picker/packer and a warehouse associate? In some warehouses, they may mean the same thing. At others, a warehouse associate might manage the whole order versus just individual products. So instead of picking products for the fulfillment, they might coordinate with suppliers or picker/packers and organize the stock within the warehouse.

Another position is a warehouse supervisor. A warehouse supervisor is usually someone who oversees a shift and works with the team to keep things running smoothly. For example, they may receive large orders or other instructions from the warehouse manager, then drill those instructions down to the team.

And depending on the size of the facility, there might be a warehouse manager. A manager is often college-educated or has several years of experience. It’s their job to come up with guidelines and standard processes as well as handle communication with the higher-ups.

There are also more technical roles in a warehouse. These can include roles like forklift driver, a licensed worker who uses heavy machinery to move products around the warehouse. A warehouse technician or mechanic, on the other hand, is a specialized worker who handles the maintenance or repair of equipment in the warehouse. For these jobs, you’ll need formal training, but it may be worth the investment if you’re interested in a long-term career.

What is a picker/packer’s average pay?

The next question people have after “what is a picker/packer?” is usually “what does a picker/packer make?”

According to Salary.com, the average picker/packer pay breaks down to about $16 per hour. That said, things like your location and the size of the warehouse might affect your pay. Big fulfillment centers may pay higher rates than smaller mom-and-pop facilities. Your experience and skills can influence your pay rate as well.

If you’re interested in working as a picker/packer, but want to work on your own terms, try searching shifts on Instawork. On Instawork, you can pick up as many or as few shifts as you like, according to your schedule and income goals. And as a bonus, shifts on Instawork often pay above the industry average.

You can find jobs as a picker/packer year-round, but a lot of businesses hire extra picker/packers around the holidays to handle all the extra gift orders coming in. This is great news if you’re looking for extra cash for holiday gifts or a nice dinner, or simply hustle on the side to supplement your income.

The bottom line

Picker/packers are the people who assemble orders and get them ready to ship. They’re the ones who fold the clothes you ordered, wrap the electronics you purchase and scan for quality to make sure you get top-notch products every time. It’s an entry-level job that has plenty of room for advancement, allowing you to gain valuable experience as you work your way up the ladder. 

And now that your question “what is a picker/packer?” has been answered, you’re ready to find a shift! Whether you want to pick up shifts as a side hustle or make it your full-time job, Instawork makes finding warehouse work a snap.


Long text 24