Though some companies might define someone who stocks shelves differently, the common title is stock clerk. Despite the name, stock clerks have a wide range of responsibilities other than putting merchandise on shelves, from changing out sales tags to loading a gigantic television into someone's car. Most companies don't require interested candidates to possess a whole lot in the way of experience.
Before a stock clerk can fill barren shelves, she first has to retrieve the products. As a clerk, you'll often be responsible for receiving inventory orders, at least in some aspect, such as removing boxes from a truck, ensuring that the inventory matches the sales receipts and organizing the inventory in the stock room. Larger stores with a complex logistics strategy may have all inventory organized and ready to be taken to certain areas of the store or warehouse, while smaller stores and warehouses may need you to organize the inventory. Some clerks may adjust prices of stock as needed, affix sales tags and occasionally take inventory of stock, although larger stores with more employees may delegate those duties to other workers.
It's not all about giving attention to inanimate merchandise and shelves as a stock clerk. If you work during times when the store is open for business, you may need to assist customers. That assistance can range from answering questions about prices and merchandise to helping customers load heavy items into their vehicles, or lending a hand to disabled customers. In some stores, you may need to tend to the cash register on occasion, particularly if the store is shorthanded.
Education, Qualifications and Skills
In most cases, a high school degree or equivalent will qualify you for a stock clerk position. No previous experience is necessary, as you'll likely be trained on the job. Stores with high shelves, such as warehouse retailers, or heavy merchandise may need clerks who have a forklift certification. Not having a certification usually won't prevent you from getting the job, but it can make you more useful, which can lead to more opportunities and higher pay. Communication, multitasking, time management and organizational skills all play a part in helping you succeed as a stock clerk, from helping customers to ensuring merchandise is properly stocked, tagged and inventoried.
Expect to work in an indoor environment as a stock clerk. You'll spend the vast majority of your time on your feet and on hard surfaces, such as concrete. If you're looking to tone your upper body, you'll have the opportunity to do so, as you'll spend a good chunk of time lifting boxes and merchandise. Most clerks work a standard 40-hour week and may need to be available for all shifts and weekends.
Salary and Growth
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the mean hourly wage of stock clerks came out to $11.75 in 2012. The warehouse and storage industry led the way, paying their clerks a mean hourly wage of $14.53, while department stores ranked last, offering their clerks a mean hourly wage of $10.00. Clerks face an uphill battle in job growth, with O-Net Online projecting anywhere from 2 percent to negative 2 percent growth through 2020.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.