Stock clerks and order fillers

When you go to any kind of store, you expect to see shelves of neatly arranged items. This doesn’t happen by itself—somebody has to make sure that depleted products are replaced and stocked in the correct location. For this reason, retail facilities of all kinds hire stock clerks and order fillers.

Stock clerks and order fillers keep inventory running smoothly. Here’s what you need to know about stock-clerk and order-filler jobs:

Stock clerks keep shelves full and organized. A typical workday for stock clerks includes marking items with codes (like price or stock number), unpacking merchandise, checking merchandise for quality and/or defects, and helping customers with their packages. They also keep track of the merchandise and note if a product is in short supply or excess. Without stock clerks, there might be production slowdowns or sales losses resulting from too little or too much merchandise in stock.

Order fillers prepare and ship ordered materials. A typical workday for order fillers includes completing orders (made by phone, email, mail, or through the Internet) for customers by locating the merchandise and preparing it for shipping. Internet-based warehouses employ many order fillers to keep inventory moving quickly into the hands of purchasers.

You should be in good physical shape. Stock clerks and order fillers often spend many hours on their feet, lifting and stacking merchandise in warehouses or stockrooms. If you have trouble with your knees or back, you may want to consider a different job.

You need a high school diploma or GED. While some employers may be willing to hire you without a high school diploma, most require this as part of the hiring process. If you haven’t earned your diploma, you should consider taking the GED exam (which substitutes for a high school education). Stock clerks and order fillers with more education can expect to earn slightly more than clerks without a diploma. On average, stock clerks and order fillers earn about $21,000 a year, though pay varies widely across companies.

You will be trained on the job. While a high school education shows that you have learned the basics, you will still need training for your particular industry. Each company has a different way of doing it, so training is vitally important. As a stock clerk or order filler, you may also work with customers on shipping dates and issues with delivery (such as delay or damages), and you may handle customer complaints or direct customers to the appropriate department. If you will be working with customers, your employer will likely train you on how to interact with them in a professional and caring manner. You will also learn how to use handheld scanners and computers for keeping track of merchandise.

The employment outlook is stable. Unlike many industries that have seen decreased employment because of automation, stock clerk and order filler jobs are expected to grow at an average rate of about 7 percent over the next decade. Computers and automated technologies cannot replace store clerk and order filler jobs because these tasks require physical labor and fine-tuned organizational skills. Grocery stores, department stores, and retail warehouses will always need store clerks and order fillers, and these jobs are not likely to be obsolete anytime soon.

Be persistent in your job search. There is a high turnover rate for stock clerks and order fillers, so check your classified ads regularly for new job listings. Don’t forget to check out some online job-search engines, which allow you to search for store clerk and order filler jobs across a variety of industries and locations. And once you find a job, do your best and make an effort to network with your supervisors and coworkers, because entry-level stock-clerk and order-filler jobs may lead to higher-level responsibilities in the future.