Warehouse managers are tasked with overseeing the inner-workings of a warehouse operation, a complex set of functions and processes that work cohesively to maintain the optimal flow of goods in and out of the facility. A warehouse is a critical hub in the supply chain, and productivity lags and interruptions in a warehouse can have far-reaching impacts on the supply chain as a whole. Managers oversee the people, processes, and systems that ensure smooth operations and keep the supply chain running efficiently.
But what makes a great warehouse manager? What are the skills and characteristics shared by the most successful warehouse leaders? What educational backgrounds and experience are needed for success in the field? We took a deep dive into data on backgrounds, experience, salary information, and essential skills required for success as a warehouse manager today to answer these questions and more.
In this guide, we’ll discuss:
- An Overview of Warehouse Managers
- Educational Background and Work Experience
- Where Warehouse Managers Work
- Salary Information for Successful Warehouse Managers
- Who Are Today’s Top Warehouse Managers
- Traits and Characteristics of the Most Successful Warehouse Managers (with infographic)
An Overview of Warehouse Managers
Directing receiving, warehousing, and distribution services, supervising staff, and a variety of other responsibilities; it’s all in a day in the life of today’s warehouse managers. It takes a professional with leadership experience, a strong business acumen, and the ability to remain calm and composed under pressure to succeed in the field of warehouse management. Warehouse managers are responsible for myriad processes and procedures, many of which are outlined by Monster.com in a sample job description:
- Coordinating and enforcing operational and personnel policies and procedures.
- Ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local regulations and guidelines pertaining to warehouse operations. This requires warehouse managers to stay up-to-date on changing regulations, guidelines, and best practices, and implementing new policies and procedures to ensure continued compliance.
- Overseeing inventory control, including implementing processes such as physical inventory counts and reconciling inventory data with data management systems.
- Establishing and monitoring security procedures to ensure the safety of the warehouse operation, personnel, inventory, and other warehouse assets.
- Optimizing the warehouse layout, inspecting equipment, and ensuring ongoing maintenance procedures are followed.
- Preparing an annual budget, managing expenses, and implementing changes to ensure the warehouse operates within the established budget.
- Overseeing the recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of warehouse staff, as well as scheduling, ongoing employee monitoring, disciplinary measures, coaching, and other human resources and quality assurance functions.
- Staying up-to-date with technology advancements and trends in warehousing, logistics, supply chain, and related fields through ongoing professional education, attending industry events, and networking.
As you can see, it takes a professional with a varied skillset to effectively meet the myriad responsibilities of a warehouse manager, who is essentially responsible for ensuring a continuous, efficient operation by overseeing every department and function within a warehouse. Salaries for warehouse managers vary pretty widely, ranging from about $30,000 per year to about $75,000 per year, based on factors such as location, the size of the warehouse operation, the manager’s background and experience level, and other variables.
Educational Background and Work Experience
According to Learn.org, all warehouse management positions require a minimum of a high school diploma; however, not all companies will consider candidates who do not have an undergraduate degree, or at minimum, an Associate’s degree or certificate. Several years of experience is always required, and for candidates with no higher education, experience is even more imperative. Most warehouse managers with a high school diploma have worked their way up through the ranks, starting their careers in lower warehouse positions and gradually earning promotions to supervisor roles, eventually to the role of warehouse manager.
Experience in lower-level positions is valuable to have regardless of a candidate’s education level. Warehouse managers should know how to perform most of the jobs in a warehouse, from operating forklifts and other equipment to picking and stocking, shipping and receiving procedures, and even how to operate warehouse management software. Many of these skills are best learned through hands-on experience.
For undergraduate students interested in a warehouse management career, there are several worthwhile majors to consider:
- Business Administration and Management
- Supply Chain Management/Logistics
- Human Resource Management
- International Business/Trade/Commerce
- Management Science
- Public Administration
- Retail Management
There are many educational institutions offering programs of study in these and related fields which are well-suited for students interested in pursuing a warehouse management career. According to LinkedIn, the top 10 universities among warehouse manager members on the platform include:
- University of Phoenix
- DeVry University
- Penn State University
- Community College of the Air Force
- University of South Africa/Universiteit van Suid-Afrika
- RMIT University
- Texas A&M University
- Tecnológico de Monterrey
- TAFE NSW
- Villanova University
Here’s a closer look at a few of the common fields of study pursued by today’s top warehouse managers and some of the leading educational institutions offering such programs.
Business Administration and Management
Business Administration and Management is a broad field of study, and many programs offer specialization options, such as finance or marketing. Students can also supplement a Business Administration and Management degree with a minor related to their career interests. One of the biggest perks of earning a degree in Business Administration is that it can be applied to a variety of careers in many different industries, making the career prospects especially promising for graduates. Business Administration and Management degrees are offered by most four-year undergraduate institutions as well as through some schools as Associate’s degrees. A few examples of universities and colleges offering top-quality programs include:
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Temple University
- University of Maryland University College
- University of Washington
- University of California – Berkeley
- North Carolina State University
- Boston University
Supply Chain Management/Logistics
Supply Chain Management and Logistics programs are an excellent choice for students interested in pursuing careers in the warehousing, supply chain, and logistics fields. Warehouses are the hub of the supply chain, so the knowledge gained in a Supply Chain Management undergraduate program is directly relevant to the job of a warehouse manager, making these graduates attractive candidates to warehouse operations. Some of the leading educational institutions offering programs in Supply Chain Management and Logistics include:
- Rutgers University
- Penn State University
- Arizona State University
- Michigan State University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (graduate programs)
- Iowa State University
- Franklin University
Human Resource Management
Warehouse managers must ensure that the people, processes, and systems work together like a well-oiled machine, and a degree in Human Resource Management provides essential background expertise for handling the people component with ease. What’s more, a Human Resource Management degree can be applied to a variety of roles in various employment settings, making it a versatile educational path. A few of the educational institutions offering programs in Human Resource Management include:
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Florida State University
- Indiana University Bloomington
- Western Governors University
- Colorado State University
- Ashford University
- Oakland University
Because warehouse managers are tasked with creating and overseeing operational budgets, a degree in Finance is a valuable stepping stone, and it’s also a degree with wide applicability in the workforce. A few educational institutions offering programs in Finance include:
- University of Pennsylvania – Wharton
- MIT Sloan
- New York University – Stern
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Virginia Tech
- Missouri State University
- Minnesota State University
International Business/Trade/Commerce degrees prepare students to enter the field prepared to tackle the prominent business challenges facing organizations today. Graduates are equipped with the skills needed to engage in the global business environment, making these programs a valuable educational experience for warehouse managers. A few of the schools and universities offering programs in International Business/Trade/Commerce include:
- Florida Atlantic University
- Loyola University Chicago
- Berkeley College
- Linfield College
- University of San Diego
- Ohio State University
- Houston Community College
Where Warehouse Managers Work
Warehouse managers work for logistics and distribution companies, manufacturers, retailers, major commercial enterprises, or even for military and government agencies. Many industries rely on warehousing either directly or through distribution channels, resulting in ample opportunities and good overall job prospects for warehouse managers.
LinkedIn identifies the top industries employing warehouse managers based on LinkedIn members holding the job title of warehouse manager, including:
- Logistics and Supply Chain – 35,948 members
- Warehousing – 21,896 members
- Retail – 15,508 members
- Information Technology and Services – 14,550 members
- Construction – 9,132 members
- Automotive – 8,490 members
- Food & Beverages – 7,814 members
- Consumer Goods – 6,843 members
- Oil & Energy – 6,622 members
- Transportation/Trucking/Railroad – 6,422 members
According to LinkedIn, the top companies employing warehouse managers include:
- DHL – 734 members
- PepsiCo – 725 members
- Amazon – 693 members
- Tesco PLC – 517 members
- Kuehne + Nagel – 454 members
- DHL Supply Chain – 398 members
- The Coca-Cola Company – 386 members
- CEVA Logistics – 328 members
- IBM – 291 members
- Procter & Gamble – 281 members
Here’s a look at some of the major industries employing warehouse managers and some of the most influential companies in each.
Logistics and Supply Chain/Warehousing
Warehouses are the cornerstone of the logistics and supply chain industry, serving as a central hub for the storage, shipping, and receipt of goods. There is no shortage of opportunities for warehouse management professionals in this industry. A few of the leading companies in this sector include:
“Where are you headed? If you’re ready to get what you want out of your job — out of your life — the smart route is at UPS. As a growing, dynamic Fortune 50 organization, we have the kind of opportunities that will help you go as far as your ambition will take you. So if you’re looking to start on a rewarding future, we’ll get you moving in the right direction.”
“Supply chain customers and professionals from around the world say our people offer the best service, reliability, and communication in the industry (Inbound Logistics). If you are the type of person who only wants to work for the best and settle for nothing less, look no further.”
“Yusen Logistics is committed to developing employees that deliver consistent quality and service to our customers, and providing them with the skills, training, support, and opportunities they need to be successful.”
“At Expeditors, we recruit, train, and retain the very best logistics and technical experts the world over. We love to promote from within—more than 27 percent of our staff of 16,000 employees has been at Expeditors 10 years or more. Our high retention rate is influenced by a unique compensation program for positions that are more than just jobs—they’re chances to grow, thrive, and do what you love.”
“There’s never been a better time to work at Ryder. We are committed to hiring extraordinary people and engaging them with challenging and rewarding opportunities and careers. We have a long history of investing in our employees by providing a collaborative team-based environment that encourages growth across all levels and positions.”
“Career opportunities within DHL are as diverse as our teams all over the world. With over 480.000 employees in the Deutsche Post DHL Group in over 220 countries and territories, we connect people, improving their lives.”
“Transport and Logistics form a key sector in the world economy. As a major international player on this sector, GEODIS is geared to full satisfaction of all stakeholders, starting with its workforce, more than 39,500 men and women worldwide who share the same values of commitment, innovation, trust, solidarity and passion that form the pillars of GEODIS corporate strategy.”
“FedEx Corp. provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. Our networks operate independently to deliver the best service to customers without compromise. They compete collectively as a broad portfolio of customer solutions and are managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand.”
Retailers are one of the biggest employers for warehouse professionals, and the market is growing thanks to the increasing number of online retailers maintaining their own warehouses. Here are a few of the biggest names in the retail space offering opportunities for warehouse managers and other warehousing staff.
“We’re a company of pioneers. It’s our job to make bold bets, and we get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers. Success is measured against the possible, not the probable. For today’s pioneers, that’s exactly why there’s no place on Earth they’d rather build than Amazon.”
“Culture is the foundation of everything we do at Walmart. We define culture as our values in action. It’s how we deliver superior customer service, create a great front-line work environment and improve performance in order to achieve our common purpose of saving people money so they can live better.”
“At Wayfair, we’re always looking for curious, analytical, and adaptable people to join our home team. Whether you work in one of our global offices, in one of our warehouses, or at our Boston headquarters, you’ll find a dynamic environment where learning and growth opportunities are abundant and hard work and results are rewarded. If you’re looking for a challenging and fulfilling career, make yourself at home.”
“At Zappos our 10 Core Values are more than just words, they’re a way of life. We know that companies with a strong culture and a higher purpose perform better in the long run. As we continue to grow, we strive to ensure that our culture remains alive and well. Check out our core values and see if they speak to you.”
“Our Associates make a difference in the lives of our customers. Let us make a difference in yours. Welcome to Kohl’s.”
Making automobiles is a complex process, encompassing a bustling network of manufacturing plants, parts centers, and production and testing facilities, and other operational centers. Some automotive manufacturers rely on 3PLs for warehousing needs, but many have some parts centers and other warehouses that they manage directly. Here are a few of the automotive companies with opportunities for warehouse managers.
“The Power of Dreams drives us. Across many disciplines, the tremendous skills and knowledge of our diverse Honda associates make those dreams a reality.”
“It takes a team of driven and results-oriented professionals in a wide variety of roles to keep a dynamic company like FCA US ahead of the market. We compete in one of the most demanding and fast-paced industries. That’s why we’ll look to you to take initiative, to offer up new ideas and perspectives, and to lead people and lead change. It’s what we expect from every member of our team, in every role, whether you’re tasked with providing reliable IT systems for managing information…ensuring the quality of the materials and services we purchase…or designing and engineering the very products we sell. Every role in our workplace represents a new opportunity to make us stronger and more competitive.”
“Everything we produce is a result of the hard work and commitment of our team members. We strive to create a company with the best and brightest individuals who are empowered every day to innovate and share our know-how in ways that benefit people, society, and the planet. Let’s go places!”
“It’s not quite the yellow brick road, but it is THE NISSAN WAY. At Nissan we rev up skill sets and allow our employees to build careers that put their potential in overdrive.”
“We enable our plants and facilities around the world to produce world-class products for customers everywhere. We ensure flawless and efficient vehicle assembly and the design and installation of the production tooling that makes it possible.”
Food and Beverages
The food and beverages industry is huge, with a number of major players competing alongside thousands of lesser-known and specialty brands. This industry is also in the midst of a shift due to changing regulations and a few big mergers and acquisitions. Nonetheless, the industry isn’t going anywhere, and due to its heavy reliance on warehousing, it offers ample opportunities for warehouse workers and managers. Here are a few of the many companies in the food and beverages space.
“Foods people love. Brands people trust. And a career that nourishes your future like no other. At Nestlé USA, we provide high-quality products that are essential to living well. As individuals and teams, we embrace leadership, make important contributions and support each other’s professional development. Join the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, and deliver the satisfying foods that help people around the world through every phase of life.”
“There’s something special about The Coca-Cola Company. There’s a sense of pride that comes from building brands people love and making the most of ourselves as a company and as individuals. In one way, you’ve known us all your life. Perhaps you even think of Coca-Cola® as an old friend. But old friends can grow in new and exciting ways. Surely you have. And so have we.”
“Being the best beer company starts with finding the best people.”
“The future of PepsiCo will be shaped by our commitment to hiring the best talent and making them even better – learn more about rewarding and challenging careers in Supply Chain.”
“To be the best, we need the best— the best brands, the best processes, and most importantly, the best people. Kraft Heinz is transforming the food industry with bold thinking and unprecedented results. We’re looking for motivated, innovative talent to join our team.”
Salary Information for Successful Warehouse Managers
According to LinkedIn’s data, the median annual salary for warehouse managers is $52,000, with a range of $34,000 to $82,000 per year. Glassdoor has similar findings, estimating the national average salary for warehouse management professionals at $50,000 per year. Indeed provides some salary data for related roles as well, estimating an Assistant Warehouse Manager’s wages at approximately $14.59 per hour and a Senior Warehouse Manager’s salary at about $85,409 per year.
Glassdoor’s data is based on self-reports from current and former employees holding certain job titles at any company. Thus, it’s possible to get an idea of the differences in earnings potential at specific corporations. Glassdoor has average salary information for a multitude of companies employing warehouse managers based on dozens of reports from individual employees. A few examples of reported salaries for warehouse managers include:
- Sketchers U.S.A.: $61,926 per year (based on 40 salary reports)
- SolarCity: $56,287 per year (30 salary reports)
- Sysco: $68,507 per year (28 salary reports)
- U.S. Foods: $77,791 per year (20 salary reports)
- PepsiCo: $80,333 per year (18 salary reports)
- Coca-Cola Company: $74,417 per year (12 salary reports)
- Ryder System: $64,455 per year (11 salary reports)
- Aramark: $49,678 per year (10 salary reports)
Additionally, Glassdoor provides the range of all salaries reported for each company (for the role of warehouse manager), as illustrated in the example below:
Indeed offers similar data, including the number of individual salary reports factoring into the average, a graphic illustrating the salary distribution, and the “most reported” salary:
What accounts for the wide range of salaries for warehouse managers? A few factors can impact the salary potential for a professional warehouse manager, including:
- Job location
- Company size
- Size and scale of the warehouse operation
- Hands-on experience
Payscale offers some deeper insight into the specific skills and competencies that can impact earnings potential. Some skills that can lead to higher earnings include:
- Operations Management: 9% higher earnings (compared to average)
- People Management: 5% higher earnings
- Logistics: 4% higher earnings
- Microsoft Office: 1% higher earnings
Years of experience is one of the biggest factors that can impact warehouse manager salaries. Also according to Payscale, the average salary for warehouse managers increases for each career stage:
- Entry Level (0-5 years): $39,000 per year
- Mid-Career (5-10 years): $46,000 per year
- Experienced (10-20 years): $53,000 per year
- Late Career (>20 years): $59,000 per year
Another significant factor contributing to the broad salary range for warehouse management professionals is location. Warehouse managers can expect to earn more working in Chicago (21% above average), New York (16% above average), Denver (12% above average), Houston (11% above average), and Los Angeles (11% above average).
On the other hand, warehouse managers working in cities such as Phoenix (8% below average), Orlando (4% below average), and Portland (4% below average) can expect to earn a bit less than the national average. These differences can be attributed at least in part to factors such as local economy and industry saturation; you’ll find more industrial settings and warehouses in Chicago and New York than you’re likely to find in Phoenix. This creates an increased demand for workers, resulting in more competitive pay.
Who Are Today’s Top Warehouse Managers
Who are today’s most successful warehouse managers? We pulled a few profiles from LinkedIn to showcase some of today’s warehouse management talent and gain more insights into the skills, background, and experience of successful warehouse managers today.
Warehouse Operations Manager at KeHE Distributors
Keith Rajski earned his Associate of Science degree in Business Management from Snow College in 1995, followed by a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management in 1996. Keith has held several roles in the warehousing industry, including shipping manager and receiving manager at Costco, later working as a Warehouse Manager for McLane Company, Inc. before taking his current role as Warehouse Operations Manager for KeHE Distributors.
- Inventory Management
- Operations Management
Warehouse Manager II at The Coca-Cola Company
Yovina Glen has been working for The Coca-Cola Company as a Warehouse Manager II, in the Greater Los Angeles area, since January 2009.
Warehouse Manager(Shipping) at Cool Glow Novelties
Timothy Oliver is currently working toward his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Management and Operations from the University of Phoenix. He’s held a number of positions in the warehousing and operations field, from Forklift Operator/Acting Ops/Warehouseman for Bennett Packaging, to Assistant Warehouse Manager for MBM Corporation, and Operations Supervisor for SIMOS Insourcing Solutions before taking on his current role as Warehouse Manager (Shipping) for Cool Glow Novelties.
- Leadership Development
- Customer Satisfaction
Warehouse Manager, EU Services
Richard Grob has decades of experience in warehouse management, having worked in a management role for Kelstar International, Inc. and Coca-Cola before taking on his current position as Warehouse Operations Manager for EU Services in May 2016.
- Supply Chain
- Operations Management
Warehouse Manager at L&R Distributors
James McDermott has an Associate’s degree in Business Management and Accounting from Essex College of Business and decades of experience in the warehousing industry, having held positions such as Assistant Warehouse Manager, Operations Manager, and Parts Coordinator for several companies prior to his current role as Warehouse Manager with L&R Distributors.
- Inventory Management
- Distribution Center Management
Warehouse Manager at Magnum Logistics, Inc.
Nathan Yoder earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain from the University of Indianapolis School of Business in 2011. Since earning his degree, he’s been putting his knowledge to use for Magnum Logistics, Inc., where he first started in Dispatch/Customer Service prior to his current role as Warehouse Manager.
Warehouse Operations Manager
Denis Marroquin studied Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration at Judson College in Illinois and has worked in a variety of supervisory roles, from Customer Service Supervisor at Motorola Mobility, to Manager of Operations at Cinram, and Supervisor at Inram Micro prior to her current role as Warehouse Operations Manager with Penguin Patch Holiday Shop.
- Operations Management
- Cross-Functional Team Leadership
Warehouse Manager with Sysco
Marc Schultz earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business/Managerial Economics from the University of Phoenix in 2003. He’s held a number of supervisory roles for companies such as Sara Lee Coffee & Tea, Coastal Foods, and Labatt Food Service prior to his current role as Warehouse Manager for Sysco, which he’s held since August 2015. Marc also served as Chief Operating Officer for Arandas Franchises from April 2014 to May 2015.
- Team Building
- Inventory Management
- Customer Service
Warehouse Manager at Toyota USA
Arturo Esquivel earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) from San Diego State University (California State University) and has held a variety of positions with Toyota USA and Toyota Motor Sales, including Operations Group Leader, Operations Manager, Warehouse Operations Manager, and his current role, Warehouse Manager at Toyota USA.
- Continuous Improvement
- Operations Management
Warehouse Manager Coca Cola Refreshments Downey Distribution Center
Vince Santillan has worked in the beverage industry for 25+ years, first working as a Sales Representative for Coca-Cola Enterprises, then as a Full Service Supervisor, prior to his current role as Warehouse Manager for Coca Cola Refreshments Downey Distribution Center. Vince earned an Associate of Arts degree in Business/Corporate Communications from Cypress College in 1987, followed by additional studies in Business/Corporate Communications through 1989 at the University of California-Los Angeles.
- Consumer Products
- Inventory Management
Traits and Characteristics of the Most Successful Warehouse Managers (with infographic)
We’ve created an infographic to illustrate the most commonly-shared skills among the world’s top warehouse managers. To get this info, we reviewed the profiles of the 100 most influential warehouse managers on LinkedIn.com.
Feel free to share it, but please credit Camcode as the source.
Even though strong management and warehousing are some of the top traits in our graphic, a team-oriented and customer service-focused mindset are also valuable. Demonstrating strong leadership is an important characteristic for not only warehouse managers but any professional in a supervisory role. Warehouse managers should have in-depth knowledge of the supply chain, distribution, and logistics, as warehouses serve as important links in the supply chain, and they must possess exceptional communications skills in order to interface with their direct reports, higher-ups, and representatives from third-party entities with which their warehouse conducts business.
Contributors to the Indeed.com forum say that organizational and time management skills are a must for warehouse managers. Many also cite various skills necessary for working in several warehouse functions, such as shipping and receiving, inventory management and cycle counts, and computing skills, such as Microsoft Excel, warehouse management software, the like. This points to the need for warehouse managers to be cross-functional team players who are willing to get their hands dirty and gain an understanding of every function and process within the warehouse. Gaining this depth of expertise enables warehouse managers to readily understand the various constraints warehouse staff are under, better manage their human capital, and be an empathetic leader.
As one contributor points out, companies are no longer seeking warehouse managers with the basic warehousing skills but are looking for leaders who can build and manage teams and handle the many pressures and demands that the job entails. Warehouse managers serve as the backbone of a warehouse operation, playing a crucial role that takes the right professional to manage both efficiently and effectively. At the end of the day, it’s a rewarding, fulfilling career with never a dull moment, making it an ideal career path for those who enjoy a bustling atmosphere and a daily challenge.