Popular Careers

Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.

Career and Education Opportunities for Counter Clerks in Chicago, Illinois

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for counter clerks in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 20,930 working counter clerks in Illinois; this should grow 16% to about 24,210 working counter clerks in the state by 2016. This is better than the national trend for counter clerks, which sees this job pool growing by about 9.3% over the next eight years. Counter clerks generally serve food to diners at counter or from a steam table.

The income of a counter clerk is about $8 per hour or $16,760 annually on average in Illinois. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $8 per hour or $17,520 annually on average. Counter clerks earn less than people working in the category of Service generally in Illinois and less than people in the Service category nationally. Counter clerks work in a variety of jobs, including: coffee shop or cafeteria lunchroom counter attendant, waiter, and candy counter clerk.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including two within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a counter clerk. Given that the most common education level for counter clerks is a high school diploma or GED, you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a counter clerk if you already have a high school diploma.


Counter Clerk video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, counter clerks serve food to diners at counter or from a steam table.

Every day, counter clerks are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment. It is also important that they speak clearly.

It is important for counter clerks to wrap menu item such as sandwiches and desserts for serving or for takeout. They are often called upon to serve food or desserts to patrons in such settings as take-out counters of restaurants or lunchrooms, business or industrial establishments, hotel rooms, and cars. They also replenish foods at serving stations. They are sometimes expected to ready food such as sandwiches and ice cream dishes, using standard formulas or following directions. Somewhat less frequently, counter clerks are also expected to order items needed to replenish supplies.

Counter clerks sometimes are asked to serve salads and cocktails, ladle soups and sauces and fill beverage cups and glasses. and brew coffee and tea, and fill containers with requested beverages. And finally, they sometimes have to wrap menu item such as sandwiches and desserts for serving or for takeout.

Like many other jobs, counter clerks must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Dining Room Attendant. Facilitate food service. Clean tables, carry dirty dishes, replace soiled table linens; set tables; replenish supply of clean linens, silverware, and dishes; supply service bar with food, and serve water, butter, and coffee to patrons.
  • Fast Food Cook. Prepare and cook food in fast food restaurants with limited menus. Duties of the cooks are limited to preparation of a few basic items and normally involve operating large-volume single-purpose cooking equipment.
  • Food Service Aide. Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.
  • Host Coordinator. Welcome patrons, seat them at tables or in lounge, and help ensure quality of facilities and service.
  • Institutional Cook. Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.
  • Short Order Cook. Prepare and cook to order a variety of foods that require only a short preparation time. May take orders from customers and serve patrons at counters or tables.
  • Waiter. Take orders and serve food and beverages to patrons at tables in dining establishment.


College of Lake County - Grayslake, IL

College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030-1198. College of Lake County is a large college located in Grayslake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 16,359 students. College of Lake County has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Food Service, Waiter/Waitress, & Dining Room Management/Manager which graduated three and four students respectively in 2008.

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has a less than one year program in Food Service, Waiter/Waitress, & Dining Room Management/Manager which graduated seven students in 2008.


Quality Coffee Certification Program: The purpose of QCCP is to provide operators with sales tools and knowledge that will help them begin or enhance their own quality coffee program for their customers.

For more information, see the National Automatic Merchandising Association website.


Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.