What does a Dock Worker do?

Dockworkers load and unload cargo and prepare docks for incoming ships. They moor and unmoor ships upon their arrival and departure and maintain accurate records of damaged or misplaced cargo. They follow loading and unloading plans and participate in all company training programs. They install gangways to receive incoming ships and ensure the ship’s spill containment boom is in proper working order. They safely load and unload cargo using suitable material handling equipment, including forklifts, hand trucks, pallet jacks, cranes, and grain trimmers.

Dockworkers inspect unloaded cargo for damages or irregularities and track the unloaded shipment by inputting information using spreadsheets and documents required by management. They communicate with colleagues to ensure the safe loading and unloading of cargo continues and ensure the dock areas are clean and free of debris to prevent accidents or injury. Dockworkers need a high-school diploma or equivalency including the GED and a valid forklift license as well as an ability to operate heavy machinery.

What responsibilities are common for Dock Worker jobs?
  • Oversee and be responsible for all paperwork associated with the dock to ensure it is handled timely and correctly by employees.
  • Prepare receipts to help separate freight by SKU #.
  • Determine work procedures, prepare work schedules, and expedite workflow.
  • Provide training for dock personnel and close monitoring of safety procedures and policies.
  • Help manage the inbound/outbound dock operation.
  • Ensure that boaters observe all marina rules and regulations.
  • Organize and maintain file systems, file correspondence and other records.
  • Operate a forklift or order selector to transport parts in and about warehouse.
  • Communicate and monitor workflow in support of manage loading/unloading of freight
What are the typical qualifications for Dock Worker jobs?
  • Associate's Degree or higher in computer science or engineering.
  • Knowledgeable about loading procedures, including drop and hook routines.
  • Able to work in hazardous and physically challenging conditions.
  • Demonstrated strong time management, leadership, and problem solving skills.
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite.
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.2 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.3 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Dock Worker make near United States?

$39,263 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Dock Worker Career Path

Learn how to become a Dock Worker, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Dock Worker I
Dock Worker
Dock Worker

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Dock Worker Insights

Read what Dock Worker professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Christie LitesChristie Lites
Dock Worker
Jul 30, 2021

“If you have a good manager running your shop it can be a really good place to work.”

Outbound Dock Worker
Jan 15, 2022

“The pay is pretty good compared to most companies at the time I was hired.”

Drake InternationalDrake International
Oct 13, 2021

“Rude and terrible management.”

Magnum TruckingMagnum Trucking
Dock Worker
Mar 27, 2023

“I had one day of training as a dispatcher and was expected to know it all out of the gate.”

Star LineStar Line
Dock Hand
Mar 30, 2022

“It is a fun job and you get to work outside all day and meet new people.”

Ship Dock Associate
May 4, 2022

“You make good money so pay is great”

Dock Associate
Feb 10, 2022

“you get to use your hours however you feel there is no manager to report to when you call in etc”

Dock Worker
Mar 23, 2022

“Not challenging and no career progression”

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Dock Worker Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of dock workers

A dock worker's primary job is the loading and unloading of ships that enter the port. Other daily tasks are helping to moor and unmoor ships, installing gangways, and ensuring the dock is always safe, clean, and free of debris.

Dock work is a particularly rewarding career for those who enjoy physical labor, working outdoors, and working as part of a well-oiled team. Dock workers also have the unique opportunity to improve their skills with training on various equipment and machinery.

Dock workers get paid reasonably well. The average base pay for a dock worker in the United States is $39,263 per year, depending on the port. With additional skills and experience, they can earn up to $45,513.

Working as a dock worker can be a difficult job due to the requirement for physical labor, and the possibility of working long hours according to the ships' schedules. Ports have many hazards, especially with moving machinery and cargo, and dockers must work in all weather.

Related Careers

25% skills overlap
Material Handler
25% skills overlap
Forklift Operator
38% skills overlap
Warehouse Worker
25% skills overlap

Dock Worker Jobs