Last Updated on 2024-02-22

The Amazon XL Warehouse Associate Job Explained

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

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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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Jason Reed

9 years of experience working as an XL associate

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Vaughn Winslow

One year of experience working in an Amazon XL warehouse

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Phil Grossman

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

Amazon XL warehouse associates are entry-level employees who work at Amazon facilities that specialize in storing, packaging, sorting, and delivering extra large items and packages. 

XL warehouses are a subtype of Amazon warehouse, which means that there are XL versions of fulfillment centers (FCs), sortation centers (SCs), and delivery stations (DSs). Each of these warehouses fulfill a different purpose: fulfillment centers store inventory, package orders, and load freight into trailers, sortation centers optimize delivery times by sorting packages, and delivery stations send them off to their final destinations. 

The XL variants of each of these warehouses carry out the same purpose, but they deal with larger items than the standard versions. As an employee, that means that you’ll be expected to lift heavier and bulkier items and use pallet jacks. If you have a forklift operator’s license, you’ll use specialized machinery, called powered industrial trucks (PITs). 

Working at an XL warehouse has pros and cons: on the one hand, your work is more strenuous, and you have a higher risk of injury. But on the other hand, XL warehouses adjust for that by instating less stringent performance benchmarks, which leads to a more relaxed work environment. Amazon also provides proper PPE to minimize risks. Plus, all that heavy lifting can help you stay in shape! 

What is an Amazon XL warehouse associate?

The job title “Amazon XL Warehouse Associate” refers to a Tier 1 (T1), Tier 2 (T2), or Tier 3 (T3) employee who works at an Amazon XL warehouse. 

Amazon divides its jobs into a tier system. T1 is the lowest tier, and Level 12 (L12) is the highest — Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon, is an L12 employee. Generally, the term “associate” refers to someone who works in a T1 position, but some T2 and T3 employees are referred to as “associates” as well. 

One perk of being a (non-seasonal) Amazon associate is that you’re automatically entered into the Amazon Step Plan, which guarantees you raises after 6, 12, 18, 24, or 36 months on the job. Exactly when you’ll receive your raises varies from facility to facility, so you might get a raise at 6, 18, and 24 months or 12, 24, and 36 months, or any other combination of time intervals. If you’re a seasonal worker, the Step Plan doesn’t apply to you.

What is the Amazon XL Warehouse Associate job description?

The work that you’ll do as an XL warehouse associate will depend on what type of facility you work at. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect at each of them, but make sure to check out our individual posts on FCs, SCs, and DSs for a more in-depth look — the general work remains the same, the packages are just bigger. 

Fulfillment Center

Fulfillment centers store inventory and package orders. If you work at an FC, you might find yourself working in roles like:

  • Receive dock: Unload boxes from Amazon trucks. 
  • Counter: Count how many of a specific product are in inventory. 
  • Stower: Bring inventory to storage racks using PIT and pallet jacks.
  • Picker: Grab specified items off shelves and place them in bins. 
  • Packer: Pack items in boxes, add packing materials, and seal the packages. 
  • Problem solver: Resolve issues with orders. 

For more detailed information on what working at an Amazon FC is like, take a look at our full post on the topic. 

Sortation Center

After an order is prepared at an FC, it’s sent off to a sortation center, where workers sort packages by delivery destination to optimize shipping times. Roles at sortation centers include:

  • Unloader: Unload packages from Amazon trucks. 
  • Scanner: Scan packages and group them by destination. 
  • Waterspider: Wrap stacks of packages with transparent plastic. 
  • Induct: Transfer items from bins to trays. 
  • Container loader: Place packages on trucks. 

Vaughn Winslow, who has 6 months of experience working at an Amazon XL warehouse, says, “unloaders will also be cross trained most of the time to become a loader of the trucks just in case there comes a time when extra help is needed in that area. This is also a bonus because the more areas you’re trained in, the more opportunities you will have when VET [voluntary extra time] becomes available during peak time.”

For a more detailed look at the sortation center job description, check out our full post on the Amazon Sortation Center Associate job

Delivery Station

Delivery stations are the last stops in the Amazon pipeline. At delivery stations, packages are sorted one last time by delivery destination before  drivers load them onto trucks for delivery. 

At a DS, you might find yourself working in roles like:

  • Unloader: Unload packages off truck and place them in the staging area.
  • Receiver: Log incoming packages, check them for damage, and sort them for further processing. 
  • Inductor: Break down pallets, scan and label packages, and arrange them for sorters.
  • Package sorter: Sort packages by final destination. 
  • Loader: Stage packages on pallets. 

For a more in-depth look at the Delivery Station Associate job, take a look at our full post on the position. 

How are Amazon XL warehouses different from normal warehouses?

By now, we know that XL warehouses handle larger packages than those you’ll find at regular Amazon warehouses. But what does that mean practically for you as a worker?

At standard warehouses, you’ll never need to lift more than 49 lbs. But at XL warehouses, you’ll need to be comfortable lifting up to 85 lbs on your own, and 85-150 lbs as part of a team lift. Hand trucks and pallets are available to assist heavy lifts. For items that weigh more than 150 lbs, you’ll use powered industrial trucks (PITs) if you have the proper certifications. 

Here are the types of PITs that are commonly used at Amazon XL warehouses (depending on the warehouse that you work in, you might hear these referred to by different names):

  • Order picker: To operate the order picker, you’ll stand on a small platform that goes up and down like an elevator. You’ll use this to grab inventory that’s out of reach. 
  • Stand up: This PIT is almost exactly the same as a forklift, but you’ll operate it while standing up instead of sitting down. 
  • Clamp truck: The clamp truck is like a forklift that has a giant, mechanical hand that it can use to grab things. You’ll stand in a carriage section of the truck, and operate a clamp, which is comprised of two parallel sheets of metal that are perpendicular to the ground and squeeze together to pick up items. 
  • Walkie: The walkie is essentially a motorized pallet. At the front, there’s a platform where the operator stands. Behind them is a pallet. It looks a bit like a small pickup truck that’s very close to the ground. 
  • Reach: The reach is basically the same as the stand up, but its arms reach higher. 
  • Turret truck: The turret truck is essentially a forklift on an elevator. The operator sits in a carriage that rises into the air and operates a forklift-like arm that is used to retrieve inventory. 

Although working at an XL warehouse is typically more physically taxing than working at a standard Amazon warehouse, there are fruits of the labor: XL warehouses are often viewed as more relaxed, flexible, and easy-going than other types. 

Jason Reed, who has 9 years of experience working at Amazon, says, “in my area, XL facilities were one of the few that had the Flex and Part-Time schedules. Flex schedules at a Delivery Station required a minimum of 4 hours worked per week before incurring attendance penalty points. Often, available shifts were capped around 20 hours per week depending on business needs. Schedules became available daily and allowed you to work with very short notice but required 14-hours notice to drop scheduled shifts without penalty.”

In many positions at Amazon, employees are required to “make rate” — that means hitting certain performance benchmarks, like packing 150 orders per hour. Because the items are so much heavier, Amazon understands that workers will need to move more slowly and work in teams instead of on their own, so it reduces the rate requirements accordingly. 

However, there’s a very serious reason that Amazon reduces rate requirements for XL warehouse workers: working with heavy items and industrial machinery is more dangerous, and making employees rush to make rate while using heavy machinery is a recipe for disaster.

Even with the rate reduction and Amazon-provided PPE, constantly lifting heavy items and using industrial machinery is still more dangerous — in addition to the increased risk of injury, it can be particularly dangerous for those with certain heart and health conditions, so make sure you speak with your doctor to confirm that working at an XL warehouse won’t be a problem for your health. 

On the flipside, if you don’t have any weight lifting restrictions, then working at an XL center can be a good way to stay active and fit. It may not be a targeted workout, but staying on your feet and engaging in full-body lifts for many hours a day will burn calories and help build strength. 

How much do Amazon XL warehouses pay?

There isn’t much data on how much XL warehouses pay across the board. The best way to figure out how much you can expect to make while working at an XL facility is to go on Amazon’s official job portal and see what wages Amazon is offering. 

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