Counter and Retail Clerks


Employment Prospects


Of the numerous types of clerks working in the United States, approximately 436,100 people work as counter and rental clerks at dry cleaners, car rental agencies, and other such establishments. These are not the only employers of clerks, however; hardware stores, shoe stores, moving businesses, camera stores—in fact, nearly any business that sells goods or provides services to the general public employs clerks. Many work on a part-time basis.

Starting Out

If you are interested in securing an entry-level position as a clerk, you should contact stores directly. Workers with some experience, such as those who have completed a work-study program in high school, should have the greatest success, but most entry-level positions do not require any previous experience. Jobs are often listed in help-wanted advertisements.

Most stores provide new workers with on-the-job training in which experienced clerks explain company policies and procedures and teach new employees how to operate the cash register and other necessary equipment. This training usually continues for several weeks until the new employee feels comfortable on the job.

Advancement Prospects

New counter and retail clerks usually start out by doing routine tasks, such as checking stock and operating the cash register. With experience, they might advance to more complicated assignments and assume some sales responsibilities. Those with the skill and aptitude might become salespeople or store managers, although further education is normally required for management positions.

The high turnover rate in the clerk position increases the opportunities for promotion. The number and kind of opportunities, however, depend on the place of employment and the ability, training, and experience of the employee.

Tips for Entry

Brush up on your computer skills by taking a keyboard or data entry course.

Fine-tune your active listening ability by using the skills of paraphrasing, reinforcing, and clarifying during conversations.

Practice your sales technique by promoting a real or fictitious product or service to a friend or family member.