What It's Like to Work at The Home Depot

The Home Depot Working at Home Depot was all the rage when I was a senior in high school. It was less than ten years ago that I first applied there.


Most of Home Depot's young aspirants start out on the registers, which is just what I did. Orientation was rather painless, mostly listening to the teacher raving about how she made hundreds of thousands of dollars with Home Depot's stock options (which were available to all employees).

With dollar signs dancing in our eyes, we headed to Cashier College. Yes, you heard me right, Cashier College! We stood at fake checkout stations, learning how to accurately scan home improvement products and to handle cash. Once we were determined to be fit for service, we graduated and were given those pristine, bright orange aprons.

On the job

There are many sorts of people donning those distinctive orange aprons. When I worked at Home Depot, cashiers were definitely made up of the younger crowd, teens who were proud that we could actually drive ourselves to work. But you definitely don't have to start as a cashier, especially if you have experience in an area of home improvement, such as painting or flooring.

Those who worked in the actual departments (and whose aprons showed definite sign of wear) were generally older and more established. We were all required to wear a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. For the most part, my fellow employees were decent to work with, but being stuck at a register didn't really let you go out and mingle with people. Working on the "floor" was an elusive goal and most of my co-workers working as cashiers, hoped to get there one day. We had a blast as cashiers, though, quickly becoming friends. After work most Fridays we'd all meet at a local restaurant and hang out.

Soon after starting, I got a step up from being a cashier, and became a returns cashier. That's the register in the store that is all by itself, with twelve heaping carts of returned products lined up behind it. You had to be skilled to work at returns, and able to deal with ornery customers, who'd often get very upset if you don't give them their money back, regardless of whether they kept their receipt. Returns cashiers also had a fair bit of independence, without the head cashier breathing down their necks. An added benefit was the fact that all the employees from the different departments had to come pick up their department's cart of returns, so there were more chances as a returns cashier to chat and get to know people who also worked in different departments.

I got placed on the floor after about a year and a half of being a cashier. Working on the floor as a salesperson means a significant raise, in both in status and cash. If you are in good with the bosses, you can even be placed in the department of your choice. I really wanted to be put in the Garden department, but was needed more in Decor. (Decor is the blinds and wallpaper section of the Floor and Wall department.) I was taught right away how to cut shades and blinds as well as how to special order them. Little did I know that scheduling would soon put me as the sole employee in Floor and Wall department during the evening shifts! As an 18-year-old girl, and the only person manning the fort, I stood blank eyed and stammering when a contractor asked me where the tile spacers were.

But I quickly learned what spacers where, and a lot more from my fellow Floor and Wall employees. Amazingly, I never received any formal training for the products in the department. It was all learn as you go. I learned how to cut those huge rolls of carpet, to order carpet for entire houses, how to lay linoleum and I actually gave the how-to classes on applying ceramic tiling to floors. I will never forget the strange looks of disbelief I got from 40-year-old men when I started teaching those ceramic tile classes. I really came to like the department that I once knew nothing about. Days were hard though, and both the customers and I were very frustrated when I could not help them. The minute a knowledgeable co-worker came in, I would acquire the information that I didn't know, and would never forget it.

The bosses<

Management at Home Depot was hit and miss. There is a store manager and usually several assistant managers, and then department heads below them. The store manager was kind of like the president of the United States -- unreachable. I never imagined talking to him or her face-to-face. The assistant managers ran the store and some were competent, while others not so much Basically, to those of us working the floor, if an assistant manager knew an answer to one of your many pressing questions, like, "The person in electrical is at lunch, can you help this customer pick out the right wiring for his garage?" or "This person needs to order a washing machine and can't find anyone in appliances, can you help him?" then he or she was competent. A good assistant manager could do anything in any department, which is actually a huge undertaking and takes a lot of skill and intelligence.

The perks

Home Depot offers its employees a lot of perks and benefits. I participated in the stock option and tuition reimbursement plans. A little bit of each paycheck would go towards buying stock, into a fund managed by a financial company. I never ended up with those thousands of dollars that the orientation teacher had raved about, but when I left, I got everything back that I put in. I just considered it a little savings account. When Home Depot started out, it did so well that its stock ended up splitting and those early stock holders ended up doubling and tripling their money. While I didn't get rich on those stock options, I ended up qualifying for a semester or two of tuition reimbursement. It wasn't huge, but it was a couple thousand dollars towards my college education, which is an awesome perk for a student like me.

Overall, I loved working at the Home Depot, but for me, I wasn't a lifer; the three-and-a-half years I put in were enough. I came out of the job with many lifelong friends and I actually met my husband while working there. Plus, I gained some great home improvement skills.

Today, when I go into any Home Depot the smell hits me and many memories come to mind. One of my favorites include "rack diving" with fellow employees, which happened about twice a year. After the store closed, we would put on some ratty clothes and actually climb around in the rafters, looking for merchandise that had fallen in between the shelving. We'd have competitions to see who could find the most items, and who could get the dirtiest. It was great for team building.

So if working for a company that has a great attitude toward its employees, good benefits and a lot to teach about home improvement, sounds like your kind of place, go ahead and try out Home Depot! You might just find that bright orange suits you.

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A fairly accurate description of life as an HD associate. I started out 10 yrs ago as a pt lumber guy. I was going to school to be a teacher. No experience in home improvement prior too this job, now I'm a lifer. Started off making $8.25/hr. now as a salaried assistant mgr i make over $60k/yr. just like any place you work there are good days and bad, good co-workers & lazy ones, good managers & bad. You get out of this what you put into it just like any other career/job. If you genuinely like talking to people and understand how dealing with the general public can be difficult at times then HD is a great place to work. They take care of their associates even in the most difficult times. Since the recession started they kept giving annual pay raises, paid into 401k's, enhanced profit sharing payouts to hourly associates, while freezing salaries for executives. There isn't an employee discount on merchandise but they give you a 15% discount on stock purchases. Anyone with half a brain will tell you a 15% return on a Wall Street investment isn't something that should be passed up. Another way they take care of their associates is through the Homer Fund. This is an employee funded program that helps associates in times of need or tragedy. They've paid for entire funeral expenses when an associate lost a loved one, paid for car repairs, utility bills, rent, mortgages and many other things that would have significant negative impacts on the lives of our associates. How many other companies would do that for their people? If your thinking about working for The Home Depot you need to understand that working in retail is not like a traditional 9-5 job. Working early in the morning, late at night, weekends, holidays, and everything In between is just the nature of the beast and it is NOT for everyone. 10 years later and everyday I learn something new. The best part is no two days are ever the same. It's always something different. Different customers with different projects and when you can help someone make a dream come true or give them the confidence to tackle a project on their own is rewarded with great personal satisfaction. Most stores have at least 1 licensed electrician or plumber on staff, sometimes both that share their experience and knowledge with associates and customers. The training programs are top notch that allow you to learn whatever you want. In my opinion Home Depot gave me and my family a life that we may not have had if I took a job as a teacher. I also feel it is a privilege to work for such a great company and anyone that understands that we are a company dedicated to our customers through great customer service, dedicated to our associates through countless opportunities and programs will also find great pleasure and satisfaction being part The Home Depot family with the rest of my 300,000 orange blooded brothers and sisters. Greg Wise store 3830 Akron, Ohio.

March 26 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to greg.wise's comment
Mark Loomis

In response to greg.wise, things have changed since you started out in Home Depot if you haven't noticed for new hires. The vast majority are hired on as part timers with a promise of FULL TIME "IF YOU WORK HARD AND PROVE YOURSELF". As an electrician with over 25 years experience, I have worked hard, done all that I am tasked to do, and more on my own when I see things need to be done in the Electrical Department, but after a year and a half, and being the only Electrician in the department I have gotten tired of asking for Full Time. I have gotten checkout on and operate the Electric Ladder, Order Picker, Reach Truck, Wire Machine, and also on the Blind Cutter, Key Machine, and the saws in Lumber, the last three because I got tire of hearing over the intercom how they were looking for associates to operate them............... ANY OTHER EQUIPMENT I SHOULD LEARN HOW TO OPERATE?. I keep asking for FULL TIME and keep getting the run around about it, but I keep seeing people hired off the street as FULL TIMERS. As a PART TIMER when I see my schedule for the up coming week, I know that its a LIE, I have never worked the amount of scheduled hours shown it as always been less (and yes I am fully flexed). None of the Department Heads have ever worked a day in any trades (my department head is a nice girl, but knows squat about electricity, she came from Gardening), the video training that is required is a joke for me, took me about three days to do the new hire stuff, and the "new" PK stuff it took me about an hour (that was because I felt lazy that day). The way I see it, the IDEAL employee that Home Depot is looking for now a days is some one who knows where the merchandise is and can recite what they saw in video training which anyone with half a brain can do, no more need for tradesmen. Have used the CAREER DEPOT thing for internal store openings, the responses from doing that have been...........................................can you hear the silence? So if you can PLEASE GIVE ME SOME KIND OF INSIGHT INTO WHAT I AM DOING WRONG PLEASE INFORM ME.

August 03 2013 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark Loomis's comment

I also work in the electrical department of a local home depot and, though i don\'t have my e2, I do possess one of the other more comprehensive state licenses. Just from my experience, ALOT of electricians I\'ve dealt with think just because they have that \"e2\", they can \"do it all\" and their ARROGANT attitute towards me means they need a serious reality check........just sayin\'.

October 01 2013 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
Brianna Hubbard

I actually read this article before I got hired on to being a cashier. Wow do I regret ever doing that. Cashiers and lot associates are treated lowest of the low. We get paid the least, but they make us do the stuff no one else wants to do. They now have a new rule in my store that the cashiers must clean everyones dishes in the break room......even though they aren't our dishes. That's my store, but that is how cashiers are treated. I was told "it is a privilege for us to let cashiers move departments out onto the sales floor." I find it ridiculous and I'm finding another job.

March 22 2013 at 10:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Teresa Smith

It does not and will not pay the bills, management keeps cutting part time peoples hours from 30 hours per week down to 16 hours per week. I am on food stamps, and any other aid I can get. This is sad that they expect you to live on $8.50 per hour with no raise in site. Very sad.

September 27 2012 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i just got a job in hardware in home depot...started at 10.55 an hour and i think i'll be working about 30 hours a week (while going to school)

This article was good to hear lol.

February 06 2012 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


August 25 2011 at 4:37 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to irlguff's comment

where? in antartica?

February 06 2012 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

home depot is not a good place to work.they have alot of safety issues with ladders broken over heads in bad shape.im a merchendiser for the home depots.they talk about safety.they dont care safety gates broken.half of the time they dont close isles off when they are droping pallets.i have called hr many times nothing gets done they sweep it under the carpet.so i called the state labor board.will see what happens.anthony riello new jersey metro 190.

November 03 2012 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I work at Home Depot. It gets me through school and all that, but I don't plan on being there forever. There are very little perks for its employees aside from its stock options and benefits for full-timers like insurance, and the pay isn't great. As it was previously stated, it's a retail business and to go in there expecting it to be a dream job, well, I have news for you: it's not. However, its all about the environment that you are in when you work there. All these people saying that there is bad service or slow service and the associates aren't willing to help, that sucks to hear. I have been lucky enough to be at two different stores where the staff is friendly and willing to help out as much as they can. Of course there are always going to be those @$$holes who ignore you and want to be lazy. It's the way of the retail business. It's crappy, yes, but it's the truth. It sucks to have customers wait because you are trying to get a hold of somebody who has the answers they are looking for, but they are with another customer or they're on lunch or are busy getting an order or whatever it may be. A lot of that comes with the store being understaffed for the evening or something stupid like that, which I wish I could change at my store all the time. But i wouldn't be quick to tarnish the Home Depot name because of a few bad experiences, or multiple bad experiences, at the stores located around your areas. Lowes may be better in one area, Menards in another, Home Depot in another. It's just a matter of finding the people who are willing to put the time and effort in to helping out the people that come into the stores. I've had good experiences where I work and it's a lot of fun. Do I think this is a skewed and weird representation of the store? Without a doubt. But it's all about the area where you work and who you work with. Anyway, that's my two cents on the whole thing. Just thought I would chime in.

May 24 2011 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lowes has much better service people than Home Depot and has better lighting and friendly sales staff.

May 23 2011 at 9:53 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Its True they dont Hire electricians, plumbers and other pro's. other than the PRO DESK. some if you are lucky may work PT there to supplement their income(retired or on disability) or out of work, if they do they dont work in the store in their area of expertise. they dont give 10% off to the people who work at the HD. would you do the job you have? or work there for under $9 an hour, with no real benefits, or hours. under 36 hours a week mixed hours. one place I worked got ride of their pro's because they didn't wan't to pay the money and the legal issue if the do it youre selfer blew them selfs up.

May 23 2011 at 9:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Does Home Depot compensate you for the lung and brain diseases that you will come down with after years of breathing the toxic chemicals outgassed by all the products in the store?

May 23 2011 at 9:38 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to kkenzoid's comment


February 01 2012 at 10:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

what toxic chemicals?

February 06 2012 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I shop at Home depot and find that the customer service is really bad. Around Christmas time it wonderful sales clerks waiting to help you, I know that it can not be this way all the rest of the year but at least you should be able to find a clerk.
Last week I waited over 15 mins and walked out.

May 23 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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