Last Updated on 2024-04-26

Job Explained: Packer at Amazon Warehouse

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Alex Rodriguez

T1 Asssociate with experience across Decant, Waterspider, Stower, Packer, and Receive Dock roles

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Jesse Gauthier

T1 Associate with two years of experience working in the Packer, Problem Solver, and Scanner roles

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Vaughn Winslow

One year of experience working in an Amazon XL warehouse

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Davis Porter

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers


As a warehouse entry-level job that requires no specific educational background or work experience, the Amazon Packer position is open to a wide applicant pool – including those with high school diplomas, GEDs, or felony records. 

But, while on the surface it may appear like a basic Tier 1 role, Amazon warehouse packers directly impact both customer satisfaction and the efficiency of fulfillment operations. They select the appropriate packaging materials, securely pack items in line with Amazon’s guidelines, and prepare packages for shipping.  

The following guide provides all the details of their day-to-day responsibilities, as well as the challenges and rewards that come with the warehouse job . This is where you finally get to find out what it means to work as a packer.

What does a packer do at Amazon?  

Amazon packers are responsible for the careful packaging of items to prevent damage during transit. They select the best packaging options based on the item’s size, shape, and fragility, fill any gaps with cushioning material, and thereafter seal the packages securely.

Packers also verify that the correct item is sent in the right quantity and matches the order details. Their role extends even to quality control, where they inspect items for damage or defects before packaging and report any issues found. 

A packing associate's day-to-day activities depend on whether they are assigned to AFE Pack (Flow) or Pack Single. In the AFE setup, warehouse workers pack multiple items from various totes into a single order at their own workstations. The pace is slower in Pack Singles, where each associate packs one item per box. Amazon Robotics' sortable facilities channel the items along conveyor belts in totes, while traditional non-robotic sort centers use cages. 

Across both instances, the packing process itself is not entirely manual. Automated taping machines adjust the tape length for different box sizes, label printers generate shipping labels, and dimensioning systems help with measuring and weighing packages to ensure compliance with shipping standards.  Additionally, each packer must add packaging filler to fill any gaps to ensure a safe delivery of the customer’s order.

Despite the role being independent, packers are part of a larger team and must collaborate with other warehouse associates. They often work alongside pickers who collect items and waterspiders who supply packaging materials. 

More about the job

“Packers” are different from “picker/packers” 

A “picker/packer” selects items from the inventory (picking) and prepares them for shipment (packing). They use RF scanners, barcode scanners, and container tags to mark and label containers, perform cycle counts, and confirm that packing specifications are met. Picker/packers also transport orders, check for damages prior to packaging and shipping, as well as use RF scanning to track all inbound and outbound items for inventory control.

Packers, on the other hand, focus on preparing finished products for packaging and shipment. They ensure the items are present and then wrap them securely according to company standards. 

The picker/packer role is more dynamic, requiring workers to consistently move around the warehouse while gathering items from the inventory. Packers, however, usually remain at their packing stations to wrap items that come along the conveyor belt. 

For those starting in Amazon's logistics network, working as a picker/packer might provide a broader view of warehouse operations and possibly open up opportunities in inventory management, logistics, or supervisory roles. The packer role could, on the contrary, prepare you for senior positions in optimizing packaging processes and materials.

What is “pack flow”?

To speed up the delivery of orders and uphold customer satisfaction, pack flow divides the order-handling workflow into three specialized stages – sorting, re-binning, and packing.  

Employees are then assigned to specific roles that match their training and expertise. Packers are responsible for wrapping and preparing items for shipping, sorters organize items before they are packed, while re-binners are tasked with sorting items into bins based on their destination. Packers will work on the opposite side of the re-binners on the grid-like wall they share, they often communicate to ensure the orders are in the correct positions.

Amazon's pack flow system is supported by warehouse technologies like the Amazon Fulfillment Engine (AFE), which automates many of the order fulfillment tasks. Items are tracked in real-time from picking to packing, and data analytics helps to continuously improve the efficiency and reliability of the pack flow process.

What is “pack single”?

At Amazon, pack single streamlines the fulfillment of orders consisting of just one item. Each is picked from the inventory, promptly packed, and prepared for timely shipping. 

Packers here work from their own individual stations, which are accessorized with everything needed for packaging. Each station features a pair of conveyor belts – one brings in the items to be packed and the other carries away the sealed packages. 

When a tote arrives at the station, the Amazon warehouse associate scans it to get information about the item and how it should be packed. After packing, the packer adds a shipping label and then places the package on the outgoing conveyor. 

This entire setup is said to be quieter and less crowded than the AFE (Amazon Fulfillment Engine) packing areas. 

What is “pack batch”? 

At Amazon, pack batch is a strategy where employees gather items for several orders in one go, rather than one at a time. Orders with similar properties or items are grouped together and processed simultaneously.

This method takes advantage of the economies of scale to greatly cut down on travel time within the warehouse, increase the number of orders fulfilled in a set period, and facilitate bulk delivery of orders. 

While at it, Amazon’s advanced Warehouse Management System (WMS) makes things particularly seamless for pickers and packers. It analyzes order details, delivery deadlines, and where items are stored to spot batching opportunities in real-time. 

How does AFE packing work at Amazon?

AFE packing uses the power of Amazon’s Fulfillment Engine to integrate pack flow and sort flow processes. This is done to streamline batch processing and increase accuracy. As diverse orders come in, warehouse employees coordinate across different roles to form a continuous pipeline for sorting, packaging, and preparing them for dispatch. 

The sort flow aspect of AFE packing is divided into three key operations – induct, rebin, and multi-pack. Induct scans items and transfers them from one bin to another. Rebin then sorts items from a collective tray into specific chutes for packing, while multipackers compile items from different chutes bins into a single order. Packers and re-binners will share the same grid-like wall, working on either side.

That complex workflow is managed by advanced algorithms in Amazon’s warehouse software. It conducts real-time data analysis to sort the items and reveal the ones that go together. Instructions are then relayed to packers through their workstation screen.

The job application process for packers

The first step in applying for a packer position is to submit your job application through the Amazon Jobs website, applying for any associate role. Ultimately, you do not choose where you become a packer specifically - you will be placed into an associate role based on the warehouse’s current need (one of which may be a packer role).

To apply, interested candidates must fill out a form with their details, select their preferred shift, and complete basic employment checklists. This can take as little as 20 minutes and is the least time-consuming part of the hiring process .

After submitting your application, you'll be invited to a pre-hire appointment at one of Amazon’s locations. The company will administer a drug test, take badge photos, review your identification documents, and direct you to fill out the I-9 form for verification of identity and employment eligibility. 

Following that pre-hire session, Amazon begins processing your drug test and background check. The results are typically relayed within two to three days. If they turn out positive, you'll be ushered to the final stages of the Amazon hiring process.

Qualified candidates are subsequently taken through the onboarding process, where they may even be offered sign-on bonuses and other recruitment benefits (such as work shoe discounts). 

After completing all the steps, you'll receive information about your start date and time through the Amazon Jobs portal. When you finally report to work, expect to start with orientation and role-specific training. 

Job requirements

While the packer role is entry-level and does not require prior work experience, there are certain physical and personal attributes that you must have if you hope to meet the standards of Amazon's warehouse operations.

The minimum educational requirement for warehouse job applicants is a high school diploma or GED, although relevant work experience can sometimes serve as a substitute. 

Amazon also conducts background checks to flag any past convictions in your records. The felonies or misdemeanors discovered won’t get you automatically dismissed, though. Amazon is open to hiring recovering convicts once it evaluates the nature of the offense, the time elapsed since it occurred, and any rehabilitation efforts taken. 

Candidates are otherwise expected to pass a pre-employment drug test, which checks for all the commonly abused substances except THC. Another thing you’ll need is the physical stamina to stand and move for up to 8-12 hours per work shift. Packers are supposed to lift items weighing at least 49 pounds, as well as stretch or bend to retrieve products from shelves.

Pros and cons of the packing role

Pros

  1. Autonomy: Packers enjoy a considerable degree of independence in their work, as they execute tasks with minimal supervision.
  2. Less Physically Demanding: Packing roles, while still physically engaging, generally involve less heavy lifting compared to other warehouse positions like stowing or picking.
  3. Skill Development: Working as a packer offers hands-on experience in packaging and quality control, skills that are transferable to other roles within logistics and supply chain management. 
  4. Competitive Compensation and Benefits: Amazon provides competitive wages for packers, starting at a minimum of $15 per hour, with potential increases based on location and market conditions. The role also comes with benefits meant to improve the quality of lifestyle, minimize business expenses, safeguard well-being, and grow earnings. 

Cons

  1. Monotonous: The packing role is inherently repetitive, with similar tasks performed shift after shift. Such monotony might lead to boredom for employees seeking dynamic challenges in their work.
  2. Physical Discomfort:  Despite lower physical demands, packing jobs can still lead to discomfort from prolonged standing.
  3. Performance Pressure: The requirement to meet productivity targets can be stressful, particularly during busy periods.

Who is paid more between packers and other Amazon warehouse associates?

There is no difference between packer pay and pay for other similar positions. Pay raises, starting rates, etc, all depend more on factors like tenure and local pay rates - not on the specific role (packing) that you’ve been assigned.

Training for the role

Amazon's onboarding process begins even before the first day on the job. New employees receive pre-hire resources outlining expectations, necessary preparations, and initial training.

Once onboarded, packers participate in a self-guided yet structured training program available through Amazon’s learning portal. They take lessons from instructional videos, detailed guides, and interactive quizzes.

Amazon thereafter transitions to hands-on training, allowing new packers to apply what they've learned under the supervision of experienced colleagues. This is where they finally gain confidence in using packing machinery, conducting quality checks, and following proper labeling techniques. 

Tips and best practices for warehouse packers

  • Organize Your Workspace: A well-organized packing station, with all necessary supplies such as boxes, packing tape, labels, and cushioning materials at arm's reach, minimizes wasted motion and speeds up packing.
  • Capitalize on Tech and Automation: Familiarize yourself with Amazon's warehouse management systems (WMS) and all the accompanying peripherals – such as barcode scanners and automated packing machines. With these tools, you can simplify packing tasks, reduce errors, and boost productivity.  
  • Pay Attention to Order Details: Always double-check items against the order list, verify product integrity, and select suitable packaging materials. Being thorough reduces the likelihood of errors and returns, leading to better customer experience and fewer operational disruptions.
  • Apply Ergonomics: With the amount of physical engagement that comes with the job, you need good health to sustain performance and minimize the risk of injury. Remember to practice proper lifting techniques, take regular breaks to ward off fatigue, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Keep Learning: To develop your capabilities and advance your career, seize every training and development opportunity Amazon offers. These include on-the-job lessons on advanced safety protocols and packing techniques for fragile or complex items.
  • Stay Hydrated and Take Care of Your Feet : Make sure to maintain proper hydration throughout your shift. In addition to taking advantage of the free shoes benefit from amazon, it is highly recommended to purchase additional insoles and compression socks. Your feet will swell from prolonged standing and compression socks reduce with swelling.

Future career prospects

Amazon's warehouse jobs are structured around a tier system that offers pathways for career progression. Starting from Tier 1 positions like the packer, employees have the opportunity to progress to Tier 3 supervisory roles like Process Assistants, who are tasked with managing basic operational segments. You could also grow into Level 4 positions like Area Manager, where responsibilities expand to overseeing the operations for an entire warehouse section.

Amazon also invests heavily in the personal and professional development of its employees through various upskilling initiatives. Programs like Career Choice give permanent warehouse workers (including packers) the chance to acquire or enhance skills across diverse domains. Such training may prepare them for higher-paying, in-demand roles within Amazon. 

The company itself actively supports and promotes internal transfers as a means for employees to explore new roles, departments, or even geographical locations across its extensive logistics network. Packers can use the opportunity to diversify their experiences, gain new skills, and explore other niches aligned with their career aspirations.

If you’re unsure of how to proceed, you can always turn to Amazon’s internal networking initiatives to connect with mentors and engage in career conversations. Programs like Leadership Liftoff are especially recommended for honing leadership abilities and building professional relationships. 

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