As someone who worked in a manufacturing job through majority of college, I feel I may be able to answer some of your questions. I worked in a corrugated paper manufacturing plant, often working in the shipping department. From my experience, I can tell you that the job did have physical requirements and demands that were at times hard to keep up with. I often found myself stacking rolls of materials in trucks, which can put great stress on your body. I don't mean to say this to turn you away from opportunities, but just to make sure you are aware of the kind of work you may be doing. I often found myself enjoying the work; it was a great way to stay active as opposed to sitting a a desk all day.
There are many different types of manufacturing plants, each with different requirements for material handlers. I would suggest reaching out to the company you may be interested in and asking to hear more about the position you are interested in. Most companies will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so don't be afraid to ask. I hope this helped!
* for large material, handling at entry level, there would be more physical labor than material handling of say electronic parts.
* Requirements: There are great courses you can take, some short (i.e. 1 or 2 day) others (college type) would be more lengthy but could probably be completed on-line, or at night.
*I suggest two things: Go to work for a GOOD material handling company, at entry level. If you like it, then you can continue and if you are a good employee, 1) your employer will probably pay for the courses you want to take. 2) you will be getting much needed experience on how material handling works from the ground up, 3) with the experience you will probably be able to decide where, in the material handling business you would like for a career.
Owen recommends the following next steps:
This position should be looked at as a stepping stone. Most Material Handling jobs are very physical. This is a job most people start out in looking at moving on to a better paying job within the company. Good luck sir!