Counter and rental clerks primarily receive service, rental, and repair orders. They work face to face with customers, and provide a product or service and accept payment for it. These are usually entry-level positions.
Counter and rental clerks are needed for various industries, and their job descriptions will differ, depending on the establishment an individual clerk works for. For example, a video rental clerk will not have the same job description as a counter clerk that works in a dry cleaning establishment, yet they will have the same job title.
Counter and Rental Clerk Job Responsibilities
Since job descriptions vary based on the organization, a counter and rental clerk’s daily responsibilities will vary as well. However, there are a few constants that tend to present themselves regardless of any specific organization.
Counter clerks are expected to work with the public, and they have to know as much as possible about the company to help customers with anything they need. Counter clerks also work on their feet all day. When coupled with dealing with the public, this job can quickly become stressful.
Clerks need to be able to handle transactions with customers as well. Frequently, they work in an environment that provides a service or product, and they must be able to sell, compute the costs, and receive payment for the product.
Many clerks take on some, or all, of the cleaning responsibilities. Counter clerks are often employed for a business that is small, and would not warrant employing its own janitorial service. Usually, clerks perform the clean up at the end of a shift, such tasks can include sweeping, mopping, and wiping down surfaces in their areas.
Depending on what the company rents or sells, counter clerks may need to perform moderate to heavy lifting. Of course, video rental clerks will probably be able to avoid any serious lifting. However, clerks that sell desktop computers will need to be able to lift a little more.
Counter and Rental Clerk Training and Education Requirements
Counter and rental clerks usually do not need more education beyond a high school diploma. In fact, many employed clerks are high school students working part-time. However, this does not mean that these clerks do not need to receive training, or do not need to possess certain skills.
Most counter and rental clerk training is done on the job. Some larger companies may have an orientation program that can even last for a few days, but smaller companies usually will not have orientation. They tend to use the “learn by doing” approach while being guided by an experienced co-worker.
Counter and rental clerks need to possess a range of hard and soft skills as well. Most clerks need to use a computer of some kind to make transactions. Therefore, familiarity with computers in general is a plus. Clerks must also possess basic writing and math skills. All clerks should possess a range of soft skills, such as strong reading and oral comprehension, listening skills, speaking skills, and customer service skills.
Since the job can be stressful, and often times customers can be rude, clerks should also possess a strong emotional balance.
Counter and Rental Clerk Salary and Wages
Even though counter and rental clerks need a wide range of skills, they are poorly paid for their work. For the most part, clerks are paid minimum wage, which varies from state to state. However, all states must pay at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour as of 2010. As of May 2004, counter and rental clerks earned a median hourly wage of $8.79, and the highest-paid clerks made $16.79 an hour. Since minimum wage has gone up since then, these numbers have probably increased by a small amount. In 2008, the median annual income for a counter and rental clerk was $20,900.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Full-time clerks are usually offered benefits, paid vacation, and sick time. Part-time employees will rarely be offered such benefits, and sometimes, the part-time employee should not bother to take benefits when offered. Most companies that counter clerks work for offer a discount on the products or services they provide.
Counter and Rental Clerk Certifications
There are no specific certifications required for counter and rental clerks. Most people will only need a high school diploma or GED certificate. If any specific type of certification would be required, the company employing the counter and rental clerk would decide what that is.
Counter and Rental Clerk Professional Associations
There is not any one overall association for counter and rental clerks. The largest association related involves equipment rentals, and it is called the American Rental Association (ARA).
The ARA is an international trade association for equipment rentals. It is a member driven organization that started in 1955 with only 21 rental owners. Today, it leads the rental industry in various facets of the field, and many owe their success to the association.