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When people shop for groceries, they typically encounter a wide range of supermarket employees. There is normally a produce worker, butcher and bakery clerk available in their respective departments and employees on the sales floor to answer customer questions and help them find items. Once the shopping is completed, a food clerk is frequently the last person with whom a store patron interacts.
Good computer and data entry skills are needed to be a food clerk. Most cash registers and checkout scanners electronically detect the prices of food items through reading bar codes, but a food clerk still needs to weigh produce at the checkout stand and enter the proper codes into the system. Correctly answering customer inquiries and making them feel welcome are required for this position. If credit cards, debit cards or personal checks are acceptable payment methods, a food clerk needs the skills to verify and record identification from standard forms of identification like drivers licenses or passports. If no bagger is working with her, she must have skills in packing food and non-food items to avoid damaging the products.
Correctly scanning items quickly and with a friendly attitude is the main job of a food clerk. He is expected to engage customers in small talk while processing their purchases and be sure they found what they wanted to purchase. Communicating knowledge of the store’s inventory and layout is necessary to help customers find specific products. If the store accepts vouchers and payments from social services agencies from customers, the food clerk needs to know how to accurately process the documents.
A food clerk’s workplace can be busy or boring. During peak hours like lunchtime and the early evening hours after many people get off work, the store environment is usually loud and hectic. Late at night and during the middle of the day, a food clerk may be asked to stock shelves or perform other retail tasks because she has no customers at her register. A food clerk spends most of her time standing, so she has to be physically fit and have good stamina. Shift work that includes nights, weekends and holidays is common for a food clerk.
There are no educational requirements for this job, as most food clerks are trained on the job subsequent to hire. A significant number of stores hire food clerks that are still in high school. A food clerk who wants to specialize in meat cutting or other areas that require extra training are generally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
Retail food industry chains offer many avenues for advancement. A significant number of store managers at large stores started their careers as baggers or food clerks. Smaller stores offer few opportunities for career growth. According to salary.com, the median annual salary for a food clerk in the United States in 2009 was $28,976.
Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.