Last Updated on 2024-03-19

Why Working At Amazon Is NOT a Hard Job

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

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Justin “JJ” James

T1 Asssociate in a Delivery Station with 2+ years of experience working in the Stower, Picker, and Stager roles

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Shane Lynch

T1 Asssociate with experience working both a Delivery Station and Sortation Center working in the XL Associate, Receive Dock, Waterspider, Picker, Problem Solver, and Packer roles.

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James Enright

L5 having worked in a Fulfillment Center, Sortation Center, and in Reverse Logistics with 6+ years of experience across Receive Dock, Decant, Waterspider, Stower, Picker, Count, Packer, SLAM Operator, Problem Solver, and Unloader roles

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Alex Rodriguez

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

Ever wondered how hard it is to work at an Amazon Warehouse? Perhaps you have heard stories on the news about how Amazon employees are constantly overworked and pushed to the brink of exhaustion, or imaginary scenarios where employees are fired for not keeping up with rate, which are all too common. 

I ( Alex ) work at Amazon Warehouse. I and the other Amazon Warehouse employees collaborating on this post can tell you:  these stories are largely overexaggerated.

Amazon is a physical job, but – 

Yes, most entry-level roles at an Amazon warehouse are physical. 

However, you will find that the different jobs at Amazon are all very straightforward and not hard to learn. There are certain roles that are less physically demanding than others, and some don’t require much physical effort at all. 

Even with those which can be more physically demanding, managers take safety seriously, so you are always entitled to restroom and water breaks during your shifts . They will not push you to outrageous rate limits; rather, most rates are achievable without pushing yourself to the brim. 

In fact, unless you are in the bottom 5% of productivity for the building, managers will generally leave you alone without any coaching. You would actually have to try to get such a low rate, and it would be unlikely achievable unless you are accumulating unnecessarily high amounts of time off task, say to the tune of hours per day. 

Even if you were somehow to get in the bottom 5%, managers are first required to give you a documented coaching (and eventually write-ups) to alert you of your behavior, so you would not be fired on the spot for it, giving you a chance to fix the issue. This is in contrast to the many rumors that Amazon penalizes low rates with an iron fist.

So which jobs tend to be the most physical, and how “hard” are they?

The most physically demanding jobs    

Generally, the most physically demanding roles in fulfillment centers will be found at the inbound and receive docks, as well as with water spiders across the building. This applies to sortation centers and delivery stations as well, with the exception of delivery station water spiders; that role tends to be fulfilled by Process Assistants or Managers.

Associates who work at the docks are tasked with loading or unloading boxes from trucks and placing them onto a conveyor belt. Some boxes can be heavy, and a lot of movement is involved. 

However, you would be pleased to know that the docks are considered an indirect role, which means you are not tracked on rate or performance, hence you are generally allowed to work at your own pace. There will almost always be fellow associates working in conjunction with you as well, so one worker can pick up the slack for the other, say in case you need to use the restroom or grab a drink from the water dispensers, which are nearby for your convenience. This makes the job much easier to get done. 

Water spiders are another role which require extra movement, as you are going from station to station replenishing supplies depending on which department you are waterspidering for, such as dunnage for pack or items for stowers to bin in stow. Even so, this is another indirect role without rate to be tracked, and you are working in conjunction with other water spiders as well, so the backup makes it much more manageable.

While the docks and water spidering are generally agreed upon as some of the most physically demanding roles, it is important to remember that what constitutes as physically demanding can vary from person to person, and even more so depending on which type of building you are working in. 

For example, Shane , a T1 associate with experience working in both sortation centers and delivery stations, comments, “I would say the consensus is that the most difficult jobs at the delivery station would be stower. While that is the entry-level position everyone does when they start at a DS, you can get off of it and move to something else if you’re struggling.”

Justin , a fellow delivery station associate with 2+ years of experience, agrees. “As Shane mentioned, stowing is among the most physically demanding jobs at a DS.” He adds, “Diverting can also be physically demanding if they are inducting at a high rate; it is a mostly stationary role, but there is constant pushing, lifting, and even tossing of packages, some of which are heavy.” Justin also shares that, “Pick and stage can also be physically demanding.” 

Mildly physically demanding jobs

In the middle in terms of physical exertion are many direct roles, such as stow, pack, and decant in FC’s. While direct roles do track your rate, the benefit of them is that once you get to your workstation, you are pretty much tied to that station for your shift, minimizing movement. In addition, rates are not unreasonable, and managers are willing to help or accommodate within reason if you are having any trouble. 

The work itself is not hard, either; once you get the hang of it, you’ll be on autopilot with your duties. 

Stow: Basically just shelving items. 

Pick: Retrieve said items from shelves. 

Pack: Build packages for shipment.

SLAM: Fix incorrect packages. 

Decant: Open boxes to unload items.

Again, what constitutes mildly physically demanding can vary from person to person and building type. Shane shares his opinion at delivery stations: “In the delivery station I’d say the mildly physically demanding jobs would be the spotter; that job entails flipping the packages on the belt label side up so the scanners can read the labels and sort the packages accordingly.”

Justin opines, “I would add Pick to Buffer and 5s to the mildly physically demanding roles. Both roles require a lot of walking. However, Pick to Buffer isn’t too physically demanding unless you have to cover many aisles and they are inducting at a high rate. With 5s, you work on various tasks at your own pace.” 

The least physically demanding jobs

The least physically demanding jobs will be more mental than physical. This would include roles like problem solving and count at FC’s. 

With problem solving, you are given a laptop and tasked with fixing problems with items. The problems can range to anything from an unscannable barcode to a damaged item. Most problem solvers are working on their laptops the majority of the time rather than exerting themselves physically. Because of this, this tends to be a coveted role within the building. 

Counters do just what their title says: count. Counters quite literally just count the number of items within a pod. The simplicity of this task can make it repetitive, but not physically demanding or “hard” by any means.

Shane shares his perspective at delivery stations: “At delivery stations the least physical job is the DSP coordinator. It is the job that goes around and checks all the carts and verifies everything is where it’s supposed to be for when the drivers show up.” 

Justin adds scanners to the list along with problem solvers at delivery stations: “Problem solve and scanning are among the least physically demanding jobs in a DS. Problem solvers handle unscanned and damaged packages but spend the majority of their shift in one area. Scanners stand by the unloaders and simply scan each package to give them the correct label.”  

So, what we think of Amazon Warehouse being a “hard” job

Contrary to the many sensationalized stories in the media, Amazon is not a hard place to work at. Managers are generally very accommodating of any concerns employees may have, and they might be willing to transfer you to a different department if you find you cannot keep up with yours for whatever reason

 “Managers would rather coach/retrain than just fire people,” says James .

Employees are also given warnings for any low rates or poor work performance before any potential termination. “I think this part is often neglected,” remarks Shane . “You’ll get talked to and coached, then potentially moved, long before you would be terminated. Amazon pays a lot of money to train you; they’re not trying to fire you.” The work itself is easy to learn, and once you have it down, it will be ingrained into your muscle memory.

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