Packing is one of the main entry level roles (process paths) at Amazon facilities. Packers are mainly tasked with placing items into boxes or padded envelopes (jiffies) before they are shipped out to customers.
- Meet and exceed productivity goals (usually at least 65 packages scanned per hour).
- Operate equipment such as taping and dunnage machines correctly.
- Secure items with dunnage to protect them from damage during shipping.
- Work together with fellow associates – such as waterspiders – to ensure all resources (e.g. boxes) needed to do the job sufficiently are provided.
- Use a handheld tape gun to seal boxes before they are shipped out.
- Unfold and fold boxes in preparation for placing items inside before packing.
- Use safe lifting procedures to handle bulky and heavy items such as Ships in Own Container (SIOC) products.
- Apply labels (e.g. sp00 labels) to packaged items in preparation for outbound shipping.
How to Become a Packer at Amazon
To apply for a job as an Amazon warehouse associate, use their official hiring website.
Like in many entry level positions at Amazon warehouses, you will find out your process path (your role) on your first day (or during orientation).
It is very rare that you will get to choose or know what your job is going to be before getting hired. Roles are assigned by managers during the onboarding process.
However, in some instances, you may become a packer even if you were not employed as one to begin with, e.g.:
- You can request your manager to get crosstrained in the packing department and then (hopefully) get transferred there. In that case, you will get the opportunity to work as a packer either parmanently or occassionally.
- Sometimes you don’t even need to ask as you will get crosstrained and labor shared into different roles, especially during peak season, and you might just end up as a packer.
Note: For you to get cross-trained in a different department, you need to have worked for at least a month at your facility.
Day in the Life of a Packer
The day-to-day activities of a packing associate will depend on whether they do AFE pack (Flow) or Pack Single.
In AFE Pack, associates work close together; each at their assigned workstation. They pick multiple items from different totes that are then packed into one order. There’s as a screen at each station that tells associates what to pick, scan and pack.
In Pack Singles, associates pack one item per box. For packers in AR (Amazon Robitics) sortable facilities, these items come in totes from a conveyor belt while in traditional nonsort facilities, they are brought in cages using order pickers.
Generally, AFE Pack is more fast-paced than Pack Single.
Once the packer places an item in the box, they either tape it themselves or place it on a conveyor belt to get to a taper, who is an associate assigned the task of taping boxes with a taping machine.
Pay and Benefits
Amazon pays at least $15 to all its entry level warehouse associates. Some sites pay more, especially those located in high cost of living areas such as NYC or LA.
As of 2021, Amazon has hiked the pay for many new and returning employees to $18 an hour.
Amazon is also giving a sign-on bonus of up to $3000, as of October 2021, to new and returning workers.
As an Amazon employee, you will get the following benefits, and more:
- Paid vacation
- Dental and visual insurance
- Parental leave
- 100% paid tuition through the Amazon Career Choice program
- 401(k) savings plan
- Free credit and discounts on certain purchases such as work shoes.
6 Tips to Get Better & Faster at Being a Packer
In the first few weeks of getting hired, do not worry about rates. Take this time to learn how to do the job without making errors. Your managers understand that you are going to be slow as you get the hang of the job.
When you first get to your station, make sure that all the boxes are upside down. It will save you the time and frustration of having to flip the box every time you grab one. This is because the first thing you do before placing items into the box is taping the bottom.
Wear gloves and long sleeved shirts to prevent papercuts on your forearms and hands.
You will be standing most of your shift for long hours and your feet are going to hurt. Getting insoles and good work shoes will make your job easier. Amazon provides associates with free ($110 credit) work shoes from Zappos.
Do not leave your station unless it’s necessary since even stopping for short periods of time (less than a minute) could plunge your rates.
To eliminate boredom and make time go faster, you can listen to music or podcasts on your headphones if your site allows it.
Pros of Being a Packer
If you are introverted and/or someone who likes to work by themselves, this is one of the best jobs to have on the warehouse floor because there is very little intaraction with other coworkers.
Productivity rate expectations are generally lower for packers compared to other similar positions such as stowers.
Unlike roles like stowing, you can see how fast you are going on your station’s screen so you will actively know your rates without having to fiddle with a scanner.
Cons of Being a Packer
Packing can get very dull. You will most likely be standing in place for long periods of time doing repetitive tasks. This becomes boring and mind numbing after a while.
Working as a packer can be very strenuous, especially when packing single large items (singles). This can lead to back problems after a while, especially if correct lifting practices aren’t followed.
Productivity goals set for packing can be quite high especially when multi-packing. Failure to meet these goals when you have been working there for more than a month might lead to writeups.
Depending on the facility, packers may have to endure constantly breaking machinery such as the sp00 dispenser, dunnage machines or conveyor belt. This can slow you down and lead to frustration.
As with all Amazon warehouse associate positions, there is no incentive/bonus for high producivity. This means that the fastest and slowest packers get the same pay.