Counter and Retail Clerks


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses useful for the job include English, speech, and mathematics, as well as any business-related classes, such as typing, computer science, and those covering principles in retailing. Although there are no specific educational requirements for clerk positions, most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. Legible handwriting and the ability to add and subtract numbers quickly are also necessary.


The National Retail Federation Foundation offers the following certificates through its RISE Up program: Retail Industry Fundamentals, Customer Service & Sales, and Business of Retail: Operations & Profit. They can be obtained by completing online training and passing an exam. The RISE Up program, which is geared toward first-time job seekers and entry-level employees, was developed in collaboration with retailers such as Walmart, The Home Depot, Macy’s, and The Container Store. Visit for more information.

Other Education or Training

As part of its mission to promote careers in the retail industry, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has partnered with several universities to provide educational and networking events for students. Through this endeavor, the NRF provides participants with proven tools and techniques for successful careers in retail fields such as merchandising, marketing, and operations.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No certification or licensing is available for counter and retail clerks. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Some experience working with the general public as well as knowledge of barcode scanners, cash registers, and point-of-sales software is helpful. Workers can usually enter this field with little to no work experience. Most employers provide short-term on-the-job training.

To be a counter and retail clerk, you should have a pleasant personality and the ability to interact with a variety of people. You should also be neat and well groomed and have a high degree of personal responsibility. Counter and retail clerks must be able to adjust to alternating periods of heavy and light activity. No two days—or even customers—are alike. Because some customers can be rude or even hostile, you must exercise tact and patience at all times.