General Information

Most grocery store jobs are entry-level and can be learned in a short time. Employers generally prefer high school graduates for occupations such as cashier, stock clerk and order filler, or food preparation workers.

On-The-Job Training

In large supermarket chains, prospective employees are matched with available jobs, hours, and locations and are sent to a specific store for on-the-job training. Many cashiers are trained in a few days, with some stores offering formal classroom training to familiarize workers with the equipment with which they will work. Meatcutters and bakers are more skilled. Trade schools and industry associations offer training for these jobs, but the skills also can be learned on the job.

College graduates will fill most new management positions. Employers increasingly seek graduates of college and university, junior and community college, and technical institute programs in food marketing, food management, and supermarket management. Many supermarket chains place graduates of these programs, or of bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in business administration, in various professional positions or management training programs in areas such as logistics, supply chain, marketing, replenishment, food safety, human resources, and strategic planning. Management trainees start as assistant or department managers and, depending on experience and performance, may advance to positions of greater responsibility. It is not unusual for managers to supervise a large number of employees early in their careers.


Courtesy clerks sometimes advance to work as service clerks in the delicatessen or bakery, stock clerks and order fillers, or perhaps cashiers. Sometimes, workers rotate assignments in a supermarket; for example, a cashier might occasionally wrap meat. Union contracts, however, may have strict occupational definitions in some stores, making movement among departments difficult.

Entry-level workers may advance to management positions, depending on experience and performance. Grocery store management has become increasingly complex and technical. Managers of some large supermarkets are responsible for millions of dollars in yearly revenue and for hundreds of employees. They use computers to manage budgets, schedule work, track and order products, price goods, manage shelf space, and assess product profitability.

Many stores that promote from within have established tracks by which workers move from department to department, gaining broad experience, until they are considered ready for an entry-level management position. Opportunities for advancement to management jobs exist in both large supermarket chains and in small, independent grocery stores.

Skills and Qualities

Grocery store jobs call for various personal attributes. Almost all workers must be in good physical condition. Because managers, cashiers, stock clerks and order fillers, and other workers on the sales floor constantly deal with the public, a neat appearance and a pleasant, businesslike manner are important.

Cashiers and stock clerks and order fillers must be able to do repetitious work accurately while under pressure. Cashiers need basic arithmetic skills, good hand-eye coordination, and manual dexterity. Stock clerks and order fillers, especially, must be in good physical condition because of the lifting, crouching, and climbing that they do.

For managers, good communication skills and the ability to solve problems quickly, and to perform well under pressure are important. In addition, personal qualities such as initiative, the ability to focus on detail, and leadership ability are essential for managers.


1. Unknown author; The 2004-05 Career Guide to Industries; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Washington DC USA; 2004; Available