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Stock Clerks and Order Fillers

Significant Points
  • Employers prefer to hire stock clerks and order fillers who are familiar with computers and other electronic office and business equipment.
  • Employment is projected to decline, due to the use of automation in factories, warehouses, and stores.
Nature of the Work

Stock clerks and order fillers receive, unpack, check, store, and track merchandise or materials. They keep records of items entering or leaving the stockroom and inspect damaged or spoiled goods. They sort, organize, and mark items with identifying codes, such as price, stock, or inventory control codes, so that inventories can be located quickly and easily. They also may be required to lift cartons of various sizes. In larger establishments, where they may be responsible for only one task, they may be called stock-control clerks, merchandise distributors, or property custodians. In smaller firms, they also may perform tasks usually handled by shipping and receiving clerks. (A separate statement on shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks appears elsewhere in the Handbook.)

In many firms, stock clerks and order fillers use hand-held scanners connected to computers to keep inventories up to date. In retail stores, stock clerks bring merchandise to the sales floor and stock shelves and racks. In stockrooms and warehouses, stock clerks store materials in bins, on floors, or on shelves. Instead of putting the merchandise on the sales floor or on shelves, order fillers take customers’ orders and either hold the merchandise until the customers can pick it up or send it to them.

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary considerably by employment setting. Most jobs for stock clerks and order fillers involve frequent standing, bending, walking, and stretching. Some lifting and carrying of smaller items also may be involved. Although automated devices have lessened the physical demands of this occupation, their use remains somewhat limited. Even though mechanical material-handling equipment is employed to move heavy items, the work still can be strenuous.

The typical workweek is Monday through Friday; however, evening and weekend hours are common and may be required when large shipments are involved or when inventory is taken.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Many stock clerk and order filler positions are at the entry level and do not require more than a high school diploma. Employers, however, prefer to hire those familiar with computers and other electronic office and business equipment. Typing, filing, recordkeeping, and other clerical skills also are important.

Stock clerks and order fillers usually learn the job by doing routine tasks under close supervision. They learn how to count and mark stock, and then they start keeping records and taking inventory. Strength, stamina, good eyesight, and an ability to work at repetitive tasks, sometimes under pressure, are important characteristics. Stock clerks whose sole responsibility is to bring merchandise to the sales floor to stock shelves and racks need little training. Stock clerks and order fillers who handle jewelry, liquor, or drugs may be bonded.

Training in the use of automated equipment usually is done informally, on the job. As this occupation becomes more automated, however, workers may need longer periods of training to master the use of the equipment.

Advancement opportunities for stock clerks and order fillers vary with the place of employment. With additional training, some stock clerks and order fillers advance to jobs as warehouse manager or purchasing agent.


Stock clerks and order fillers held about 1.6 million jobs in 2004. More than three out of four work in wholesale and retail trade. The greatest numbers are found in grocery stores, followed by department stores. Jobs for stock clerks are found in all parts of the country, but most work in large urban areas that have many large suburban shopping centers, warehouses, and factories.

Job Outlook

Employment of stock clerks and order fillers is projected to decline through 2014 as a result of the use of automation in factories, warehouses, and stores. Because the occupation is very large and many jobs are entry level, however, numerous job openings will occur each year to replace those who transfer to other jobs or leave the labor force.

The growing use of computers for inventory control and the installation of new, automated equipment are expected to inhibit growth in demand for stock clerks and order fillers, especially in manufacturing and wholesale trade industries, where operations are most easily automated. In addition to using computerized inventory control systems, firms in these industries are relying more on sophisticated conveyor belts and automatic high stackers to store and retrieve goods. Also, expanded use of battery-powered, driverless, automatically guided vehicles can be expected.

Employment of stock clerks and order fillers who work in grocery, general merchandise, department, apparel, and accessories stores is expected to be somewhat less affected by automation because much of their work is done manually and is difficult to automate. In addition, the increasing role of large retail outlets and warehouses, as well as catalog, mail, telephone, and Internet shopping services, should bolster employment of stock clerks and order fillers in these sectors of retail trade.


Median annual earnings of stock clerks and order fillers in May 2004 were $20,100. The middle 50 percent earned between $16,250 and $25,910. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33,420.

These workers usually receive the same benefits as most other workers. If uniforms are required, employers generally provide them or offer an allowance to purchase them.

Related Occupations

Workers who also handle, move, organize, store, and keep records of materials include shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks; production, planning, and expediting clerks; cargo and freight agents; and procurement clerks.

Sources of Additional Information

State employment service offices can provide information about job openings for stock clerks and order fillers.

  • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition

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