What Is an Inventory Clerk?

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 18, 2021

Inventory clerks help keep businesses running smoothly. They manage many responsibilities in a brick-and-mortar store to ensure supply meets demand. Most inventory clerks share a few specific skills and characteristics that prepare them for the responsibilities of the position. In this article, we explain what an inventory clerk is, describe the common job responsibilities for an inventory clerk, provide the average salary for an inventory clerk, highlight the steps to take to become an inventory clerk and offer a list of common skills needed to work as an inventory clerk.

Related: Store Clerk Skills: Definition and Examples

What is an inventory clerk?

An inventory clerk helps a business track inventory, both incoming and outgoing. Depending on the size of the business, the inventory clerk might manage stock exclusively in the store or oversee inventory in a warehouse or storage space. Some inventory clerks are also in charge of inventory-related tasks like ordering more products or stocking the store when needed.

Related: How To Calculate Inventory Turnover

What does an inventory clerk do?

Inventory clerks may have a few specific duties or a range of inventory-related tasks, depending on what the business sells and the size of the operation. In most cases, inventory clerks perform job duties like these:

  • Count inventory: The primary duty of an inventory clerk is to count and track the company's inventory.

  • Keep records: Inventory clerks must also keep detailed records of inventory counts for management.

  • Perform audits: Some inventory clerks perform audits to ensure the records match the physical products.

  • Report discrepancies: If the inventory clerk finds a discrepancy between the number of products recorded and the number of available products, they must report that error to their manager.

  • Manages deliveries: Most inventory clerks receive deliveries of the business's products from the manufacturer.

  • Helps to move products: Inventory clerks often help to unload product deliveries.

  • Organizes storage area: Keeping the storage area clean and organized is the inventory clerk's responsibility.

  • Restocks products: Some inventory clerks are responsible for restocking depleted products in the store.

  • Maintains delivery records: When receiving shipments, inventory clerks must keep and file delivery records.

  • Orders new inventory: Some inventory clerks might have to order inventory for the business.

  • Helps customers: If a customer needs a product from the storage area of the store, it's often the inventory clerk who retrieves it.

  • Handles returns: If there are any defective or broken products shipped from the manufacturer, the inventory clerk manages to return those items.

Related: Inventory: Definition and Methods for Management

What is the average salary for an inventory clerk?

Inventory associates, which is a similar role to inventory clerks, make $27,934 per year on average according to Indeed Salaries where salary information is frequently updated if you'd like to check for shifts in average numbers. Several factors can impact the actual salary you might make as an inventory clerk, including:

  • Location: Usually, inventory clerks in big cities with a high cost of living make more than those who live in rural areas where the cost of living is much lower.

  • Company size: Big companies with a wide range of inventory and a separate warehouse area are likely to pay their inventory clerks more than small companies with fewer products to manage.

  • Industry: The type of product you manage as an inventory clerk can impact your pay. For example, if you work for a car dealership or a computer retailer, you'll likely make more than working for a company that sells clothing.

  • Team: The number of people on the inventory team can also impact pay rates, particularly if you have additional managerial responsibilities.

  • Experience: The more experience you have as an inventory clerk, the more likely you'll make more money in your salary.

Many inventory clerks receive benefits in addition to their wages. Common compensatory perks include overtime pay, health insurance and discounts on the company's products.

Related: 15 Warehouse Jobs That Pay Well

How to become an inventory clerk

If you're interested in becoming an inventory clerk, follow these steps:

1. Finish high school

While most employers don't expect their inventory clerks to have a post-secondary degree, they do often want a high school diploma or GED equivalent. While in school, math and accounting classes can help you prepare to work as an inventory clerk.

2. Hone your skills

While you're in school or outside of school hours, work to develop skills and abilities like organization, time management and autonomy. These are vital for a successful inventory clerk, so the earlier you begin developing them, the better you'll be at completing the necessary tasks on the job.

3. Gain experience

For most businesses, an inventory clerk is an entry-level position that doesn't require extensive experience or training. However, any experience you can get with the skills necessary for the job will give you a competitive edge compared to other applicants.

4. Apply for positions

Prepare a resume and cover letter highlighting your education, training and experience as they relate to the job description provided in the job posting. Prepare to discuss why you're the right fit for the job in your job interview.

Common skills for an inventory clerk

When preparing for a job as an inventory clerk, focus on developing these sought after skills and abilities:

  • Math skills: Basic math and accounting skills are vital for an inventory clerk since a major job responsibility is tracking the number of units available or sold.

  • Communication skills: Inventory clerks often have to share reports on the numbers of inventory available or sold, outstanding orders and other details with both internal and external stakeholders.

  • Machinery experience: Some businesses require their inventory clerks to drive and operate forklifts in large warehouse spaces. Experience with this type of machinery is useful.

  • Attention to detail: Noticing discrepancies on inventory reports or with the products themselves is important for inventory clerks.

  • Organizational skills: Inventory clerks must keep the products and storeroom organized, and any paperwork related to the inventory organized.

  • Computer literacy: Most companies use software to track their inventory. Inventory clerks should have basic computer skills to use these programs.

  • Time management: Most inventory clerks work fairly autonomously. As such, they should be excellent at managing their time and ensuring they complete all their tasks during their shift.

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