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Career profile Dock Worker

Also known as Dock Worker, Laborer, Line Tender, Loader, Material Handler, Merchandise Pickup/Receiving Associate, Receiver, Receiving Associate, Shipping and Receiving Materials Handler, Warehouse Worker

Dock Worker

Also known as Dock Worker, Laborer, Line Tender

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$22,790 - $48,650 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Coordination
  • Operation and Control
Knowledge Areas
  • Mathematics
  • Transportation
  • Mechanical
Core tasks
  • Move freight, stock, or other materials to and from storage or production areas, loading docks, delivery vehicles, ships, or containers, by hand or using trucks, tractors, or other equipment.
  • Sort cargo before loading and unloading.
  • Stack cargo in locations, such as transit sheds or in holds of ships as directed, using pallets or cargo boards.
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What does a Dock Worker do?

Dock Workers manually move freight, stock, luggage, or other materials, or perform other general labor.

In addition, Dock Workers includes all manual laborers not elsewhere classified.

What kind of tasks does a Dock Worker perform regularly?

Dock Workers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Move freight, stock, or other materials to and from storage or production areas, loading docks, delivery vehicles, ships, or containers, by hand or using trucks, tractors, or other equipment.
  • Sort cargo before loading and unloading.
  • Attach identifying tags to containers or mark them with identifying information.
  • Read work orders or receive oral instructions to determine work assignments or material or equipment needs.

The above responsibilities are specific to Dock Workers. More generally, Dock Workers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.

What is a Dock Worker salary?

The median salary for a Dock Worker is $31,120, and the average salary is $33,710. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Dock Worker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Dock Workers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Dock Workers earn less than $22,790 per year, 25% earn less than $26,550, 75% earn less than $38,620, and 90% earn less than $48,650.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Dock Workers is expected to change by 9.1%, and there should be roughly 411,300 open positions for Dock Workers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$22,790 - $48,650
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Dock Workers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Dock Worker are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Dock Workers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Dock Worker tend to value Relationships, Support, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Dock Workers moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Dock Workers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Dock Workers somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Dock Workers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, stress tolerance, and achievement/effort.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Dock Workers, ranked by importance:

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Dock Workers need?

Working as a Dock Worker usually requires a high school diploma.

Dock Workers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Dock Workers

  • 17.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 47.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 21.4% completed some college coursework
  • 6.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Dock Workers

Dock Workers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mathematics, transportation, or mechanical knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Dock Workers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Dock Workers

Dock Workers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Dock Workers need abilities such as static strength, multilimb coordination, and trunk strength in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Dock Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Static Strength
The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Trunk Strength
The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without "giving out" or fatiguing.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Critical Skills needed by Dock Workers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Dock Workers frequently use skills like critical thinking, coordination, and operation and control to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Dock Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.