By-Hand Packers and Packagers
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OverviewSalaryAboutEducationWhere are the jobsEmploymentGenderRace/Origin
Pack or package by hand a wide variety of products and materials.
Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Hand laborers and material movers typically do the following:

  • Manually move material from one place to another
  • Pack or wrap products by hand
  • Keep a record of the material they move
  • Signal machine operators to help move material
  • Clean cars, equipment, and workplaces

In warehouses and in wholesale and retail operations, hand laborers and material movers work closely with material moving machine operators and material recording clerks. Some workers are employed in manufacturing industries, loading material onto conveyor belts or other machines.

The following are examples of types of hand laborers and material movers: 

Cleaners of vehicles and equipment wash automobiles and other vehicles, as well as storage tanks, pipelines, and related machinery. They use cleaning products, vacuums, hoses, and brushes. Most of these workers clean cars at a carwash, an automobile dealership, or a rental agency. Some clean industrial equipment at manufacturing firms. Some—for example, those who work at a carwash, also known as carwash attendants—interact with customers.

Hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers move materials to and from storage and production areas, loading docks, delivery trucks, ships, and containers. Although their specific duties may vary, most of these movers, often called pickers, work in warehouses. Some workers retrieve products from storage and move them to loading areas. Other workers load and unload cargo from a truck. When moving a package, pickers keep track of the package number, sometimes with a hand-held scanner, to ensure proper delivery. Sometimes they open containers and sort the material.

Hand packers and packagers package a variety of materials by hand. They may label cartons, inspect items for defects, and keep records of items packed. Some of these workers pack materials for shipment and move them to a loading dock. Hand packers in grocery stores, also known as grocery baggers, bag groceries for customers at checkout.

Machine feeders and offbearers process materials by feeding them into equipment or by removing them from equipment. The equipment is generally operated by other workers, such as material moving machine operators. Machine feeders and offbearers help the operator if the machine becomes jammed or needs minor repairs. Machine feeders also track the amount of material they process during a shift.

Refuse and recyclable material collectors gather garbage and recyclables from homes and businesses to transport to a dump, landfill, or recycling center. Many collectors lift garbage cans by hand and empty them into their truck. Some collectors drive the garbage or recycling truck along a scheduled route and may use a hydraulic lift to empty the contents of a dumpster into the truck.

Median salary: $28,050 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $24,180 and $32,920.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for by-hand packers and packagers
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About By-Hand Packers and Packagers
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of by-hand packers and packagers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (91%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (66%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health (57%)
  • Hazardous Equipment (56%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of By-Hand Packers and Packagers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Customer-service skills
Hand laborers and material movers who work with the public, such as grocery baggers or carwash attendants, must be pleasant and courteous to customers.
Hand–eye coordination
Most hand laborers and material movers use their arms and hands to manipulate objects or move objects into specific positions.
Listening skills
Hand laborers and material movers follow instructions that a supervisor gives them.
Physical stamina
Hand laborers and material movers need the endurance to perform strenuous tasks, such as moving or cleaning objects, throughout the day.
Physical strength
Some hand laborers and material movers must be able to lift and carry heavy objects.
Injury and Illness
About 100 by-hand packers and packagers become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 81% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Bruises and contusions
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by by-hand packers and packagers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by-hand packers and packagers typically hold no formal educational credential.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as by-hand packers and packagers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for by-hand packers and packagers

There are no formal educational requirements for anyone to become a hand laborer or material mover.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for by-hand packers and packagers

Refuse and recyclable material collectors who drive trucks that exceed a certain capacity—such as vehicles with the combined weight of the vehicle, passengers, and cargo exceeding 26,000 pounds—must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Obtaining a CDL requires passing written, skill, and vision tests.

Education level of By-Hand Packers and Packagers
Only 5% of by-hand packers and packagers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by by-hand packers and packagers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of By-Hand Packers and Packagers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most by-hand packers and packagers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as by-hand packers and packagers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where by-hand packers and packagers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for by-hand packers and packagers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for by-hand packers and packagers.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which by-hand packers and packagers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for By-Hand Packers and Packagers (ACS)
22% of By-hand packers and packagers are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 22% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of by-hand packers and packagers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$22K$22K$21K$25K$43K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Federal governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
By-hand packers and packagers and gender
With 57% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 70% of careers.
Gender of By-hand packers and packagers
Men (43%)
Women (57%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for by-hand packers and packagers, with the median salary for men 12% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of By-hand packers and packagers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as By-hand packers and packagers.
Race/origin of by-hand packers and packagers
White (53% )
Black (18% )
Other (17% )
Asian (7% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
$21K$22K$22K$22K$22K$23K$23K$27K$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50KOtherBlackHispanicWhiteMultiracialAmerican IndianAsianPacific Islander
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.