How to Become a Dock Worker?

Are you thinking of becoming a Dock Worker or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Dock Worker, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Dock Worker job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Dock Worker

A dockworker loads and unloads cargo while preparing docks for incoming shipments. This individual is responsible for mooring and unmooring ships when they arrive and depart while maintaining accurate records for misplaced or damaged freight. In this article, we discuss the steps required to become a dockworker.

Get your education.

Obtaining a job as a dockworker does not require having formal education requirements. Most require a high school diploma or GED, with less than 20% of workers possessing an associate or bachelor's degree. The majority of positions will provide on-the-job training for the specific skills they want you to do. Working as a dock worker is a very physically demanding job. You must have the stamina to work long hours, manage heavy machinery, and be strong enough to lift cargo when loading and unloading shipments.

Employers and unions generally offer apprenticeships to individuals who have the mental and physical capabilities to complete the job but not enough work experience. While an associate or bachelor's degree isn't usually needed to get a job as a dock worker, employers look for the following experience and skills when hiring:

  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Listening skills.
  • Physical strength.
  • Forklift experience.
  • Trucking.
  • Loading and unloading.
  • Forklift operator experience.
  • Pallet jack experience.
  • Docking experience.
  • Pallet jack driver experience.
  • Dockworker experience.
  • Shipping and receiving experience.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Dock Worker?

100% of people working as a Dock Worker earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Dock Worker?

  • English Language
  • Bilingual
  • Excellent Communication
  • As400
  • IN Spanish
  • Load Unload
  • Writing
  • Problem Solving
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Dock Worker in the United States.

Take certification exams.

Dockworkers commonly seek many certifications. The more certifications you maintain, the better your odds of landing a job or having a higher earning potential. These certifications include the following:

  • Commercial Driver License (CDL), CDL A, CDL B.
  • OSHA safety certificate.
  • Driver's license.
  • Double and triple endorsements.
  • Hazmat endorsement.
  • Forklift certification.
  • Non-CDL Class C license.
  • Tanker endorsement.

If you have a specific company you'd like to work for, check the company's requirements for dockworker positions. These requirements will give you a clearer idea about what to expect when working at this specific job.


Pass a background and drug test.

Due to the intense physical demands and potential safety hazards, many employers will perform a drug screen and background check before hiring an employee for a job. Be prepared for these screenings before your interview to avoid any unexpected issues during the hiring process.


Interview for a position.

When preparing for an interview to work as a dockworker, the hiring managers or recruiters will be looking at how well you understand the importance of adhering to specific schedules and freight transfer requirements. You'll need to communicate the willingness and enthusiasm required to follow written and oral instructions and demonstrate effective time-management abilities. Some questions you can practice answering include:

  • What licenses do you have to operate machinery such as forklifts?
  • What jobs in freight handling have you held before this position and what were your responsibilities in them?
  • How have you dealt with rapidly changing environments within the freight handling industry?

If you prepare answers to these questions, demonstrate that you have the required certifications, and provide detailed highlights about your work experience, you could secure a job as a dockworker.

Dock Worker Career Path

Dock Worker I

No Years of Experience Reports
$36K - $48K /yrMost Likely Range
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Dock Worker

8+Years of Experience
$34K - $46K /yrMost Likely Range
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14% advanced to

Dock Worker Supervisor

5 - 7Years of Experience
$35K - $50K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Dock Worker Career Path

Dock Worker I
Dock Worker
Dock Worker Supervisor
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Related Careers in the Skilled Labor & Manufacturing Industry

Interested in other Skilled Labor & Manufacturing careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Dock Worker skills. Discover some of the most common Dock Worker career transitions, along with skills overlap.

25% skills overlap
19% transitioned to Packer