Stock Clerks


Employment Prospects


More than 2.1 million people work as stock clerks. More than half of all stock clerks work in retail and general merchandise; more than 7 percent work in wholesale firms; and the remainder work in manufacturing plants, hospitals, factories, government agencies, and other organizations. Nearly all sales-floor stock clerks are employed in retail establishments, especially supermarkets and department stores.

Starting Out

Job openings for stock clerks often are listed in newspaper and online classified ads. Job seekers should contact the personnel office of the firm looking for stock clerks and fill out an application for employment. School career services offices, parents, relatives, and friends also can be good sources for job leads and may be able to give personal references if an employer requires them.

Stock clerks usually receive on-the-job training. New workers start with simple tasks, such as counting and marking stock. The basic responsibilities of the job are usually learned within the first few weeks. As they progress, stock clerks learn to keep records of incoming and outgoing materials, take inventories, and place orders. As wholesale and warehousing establishments convert to automated inventory systems, stock clerks need to be trained to use the new equipment. Stock clerks who bring merchandise to the sales floor and stock shelves and sales racks need little training.

Advancement Prospects

Stock clerks with ability and determination have a good chance of being promoted to jobs with greater responsibility. In small firms, stock clerks may advance to sales positions or become assistant buyers or purchasing agents. In large firms, stock clerks can advance to more responsible stock handling jobs, such as invoice clerk, stock control clerk, and procurement clerk.

Furthering one's education can lead to more opportunities for advancement. By studying at a technical or business school or taking home-study or online courses, stock clerks can prove to their employer that they have the intelligence and ambition to take on more important tasks. More advanced positions, such as warehouse manager and purchasing agent, are usually given to experienced people who have post-high school education.

Tips for Entry

Visit the National Retail Federation's Resources section ( for job listings, information on retail education programs, an overview of retail career paths, and career advice.

Talk to stock clerks about their careers. Ask them what they like and dislike about their jobs and the best way to break into the field. 

Join unions to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.