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How Old Do You Have to be to Work at Trader Joe's?

Trader Joe’s is a national chain of neighborhood grocery stores that is committed to providing customers outstanding value in the form of the best quality products at the best everyday prices. 

Generally speaking, to get a job at Trader Joe's as a member of the crew,  a merchant, or a mate -- and ultimately a captain -- you must be at least 16 years old. 

Trader Joe's promotes based on performance—78% of Mates (supervisors) started as Crew; 100% of Captains (store managers) were promoted from the Mate role.

Teen Jobs at Trader Joe's and Age Requirements

Crew (Hourly)

As a member of the Crew at Trader Joe's you do a little of everything—and handle a lot. You're not stuck doing one task here. Each Crew Member contributes to creating a WOW customer experience by participating in all aspects of the job.

From running the register, to stocking shelves to creating a beautiful display; all while making sure that every customer has a fun, friendly and informative shopping experience.

Crew Members create a warm and friendly shopping experience in Trader Joe's stores.  They answer questions, offer suggestions and ensure customers know they are welcomed and cared for.  They entertain customers and make grocery shopping an exciting adventure.  Some responsibilities may include:

  • Working on teams to accomplish goals
  • Operating the cash register in a fun and efficient manner
  • Bagging groceries with care
  • Stocking shelves
  • Creating signage to inform and delight customers
  • Helping customers find their favorite products

If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, your local Trader Joe's Captain would love to meet you -- they can teach you the rest. To work as a Crew Member at Trader Joe's, you must be at least 16 years old.

Merchant (Hourly)

Merchants are exclusively promoted from Trader Joe’s Crew Members. They are customer service champions “nominated” by their community. Merchants are tasked to do it all, like the Crew, while setting a Wow customer experience example.

Merchants enjoy helping customers and can lead teams that create WOW experience for shoppers.  You can get promoted to this position if you:

  • Thrive in a collaborative environment
  • Want to hone your leadership skills
  • Want to be part of an amazing growth company
  • Want to have fun at work

You must be at least 16 years old -- and a former Crew Member -- to work at Trader Joe's as a Merchant.

Mate  (Hourly)

Mates are Trader Joe's assistant store leaders. They can be promoted from Crew Members who excel in their roles or hired externally as well-qualified candidates. Mates work side by side with the Crew while providing training, guidance and development. They also lead and develop Crew Members through role-modeling, direction and support.

As leaders, Mates:

  • Work in teams and get to know the Crew.
  • Improve the quality of store life.
  • Coach others to be their best.
  • Model behavior that supports our values.

Other daily responsibilities include:

  • Operating the cash register in a fun and efficient manner.
  • Bagging groceries with care.
  • Stocking shelves and receiving loads.
  • Making the store a welcome place for customers and Crew.

To work as a Mate at Trader Joe's, you must be at least 16 years old. If you are applying for this position from outside of the company, they prefer that you have a high school diploma, two years of supervisory experience, and three years of retail, restaurant, or hospitality experience.

Captain  (Salary)

Trader Joe's Captains are the store leaders, and they are always promoted from within. Captains are Mates who have exemplified unwavering integrity and commitment during their tenure. With the assistance of a team of Mates, the Captain directs the strategy and develops the Crew. They do it all from the floor of the store (there are no back offices).

To be hired as a Captain at Trader Joe's, applicants must be a current Mate and at least 16 years old.

Can a 15 Year Old Work at Trader Joe's?

Because the minimum age to work at Trader Joe's is 16, 15-year-olds can’t work there. However, we have a page on our website specifically for 15-year-olds that you can view instead.

Can a 16 Year Old Work at Trader Joe's? 

Yes! 16-year-olds can work at Trader Joe's. We have a page on our website specifically for 16-year-olds that you can also view for other options.

How Much Does Trader Joe's Pay Part-Time Workers?

The hourly earnings for employees at Trader Joe's vary because of state and city minimum wage laws. However, we can give you a general idea of what the hourly pay is for each position. 

Trader Joe's has a reputation for paying their employees very well. To keep Crew developing and incentivize exceptional performance, they provide a performance review for each Crew twice a year. On average, Crew have the potential to receive a 7% annual increase.

Crew (Hourly)

Crew Members at Trader Joe's usually earn somewhere between $14 and $22. Your starting wage will depend on your experience and the location you are working in.

Merchant (Hourly)

Merchants at Trader Joe's usually earn somewhere between $16 and $24. Your wage will depend on your experience, the location you are working in, and the rate that you negotiate.

Mate (Hourly)

Mates at Trader Joe's usually earn somewhere between $18 and $32. Your wage will depend on your experience, the location you are working in, and the rate that you negotiate.

Captain (Salary)

Captains at Trader Joe's are salaried positions, which pay between $50,000 and $90,000 per year (plus benefits). The exact amount depends on location, store size/sales, experience, negotiations, and bonus structure.

How Much Experience Do You Need to Work at Trader Joe's?

Trader Joe's is an entry-level, friendly company, so you can apply for a crew member position without any experience and get hired. However, if you do have previous retail or hospitality experience, that can help you negotiate a higher rate of pay and get hired as a Mate instead of an entry-level Crew Member.

What Should You Wear to a Job Interview at Trader Joe's?

When you show up for your interview at Trader Joe's, you will want to be dressed in business casual attire.  Consider something like a buttoned-down shirt with nice slacks and dress shoes. You do not want to show up too casual in a t-shirt and jeans, but you don’t need to be too formal and show up in a business suit.

Trader Joe's Interview Questions

The possible questions in a job interview are endless, and it always depends on the interviewer. There are some common questions that they have been known to ask most applicants. However, be prepared for some curveball questions. 

Do you work well with a team?

Why are they asking?  

There are a lot of different positions in the store, and each one has individual responsibilities that will make the store run efficiently and smoothly. They want to know if you can do your part and work well with the team. 

What’s the ideal answer?

Obviously, the ideal answer to this question is “yes.” If you have examples from previous jobs or in school situations where you have worked successfully with a team, then definitely share those. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Why are they asking?  

If they ask you this question, they are trying to find out what job skills you can bring to the position, and what you need to work on. 

Applicants are usually able to communicate their strengths, but when it comes to weaknesses, some think it’s best to say they don’t have any or can’t think of any. Don’t do this —that answer is a red flag.

What’s the ideal answer?

The hiring manager wants to know if you can accept feedback and develop your own skills. Give one or two strengths with examples to go with them. Then list one or two weaknesses, and describe how you’re working on them.

A good answer for a weakness would be something like, “I’ve been told I speak too quickly, so I’ve been practicing slowing down when talking with customers.”

Why should we hire you?

Why are they asking?  

If a manager asks you this question, they are trying to get you to sell yourself. A big part of your job at Trader Joe's is to give excellent customer service and to be able to drive sales with excellent communication and product knowledge. 

They are wanting to find out how well you can communicate while being positive and professional. If you can sell yourself, you can sell their merchandise.

What’s the ideal answer?

Know your strengths. If you get asked this question, tell them how you will benefit their business. They want to hear that you are creative, have above average verbal communication skills, have a friendly and upbeat demeanor, and can successfully sell merchandise.

Tell them that you are a reliable worker who will show up to work on time for every scheduled shift. If you want a career with Trader Joe's, definitely let them know because there are a lot of opportunities for advancement. 

Benefits of Working at Trader Joe's 

Everyone who works at Trader Joe's gets a 20 percent merchandise discount in all stores.  However, the benefits they offer are for full-time workers only.

Benefits include:

  • 401(k) retirement plan with company match
  • Exceptional medical, dental and vision plans. Trader Joe’s covers a significant portion of the cost with Crew Member contributions as low as $25/month
  • Paid time-off that increases with tenure. From hire, Trader Joe’s contributes 3.6% to 7.5% to each Crew member’s paid time-off account—or around 5 to 10 days a year. There’s no cap on accruals and the money is yours from the moment you earn it.
  • Leadership Training
  • Scholarship Programs
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Store Tastings
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Relocations and Transfers

What it’s Like to Work at Trader Joe's

How to Apply at Trader Joe's

If you are interested in working at Trader Joe's, you can apply directly on the company website, which is the most accurate source for up-to-date job listings. You must fill out your application online.

Immediately after you apply, you will receive email confirmation of submission. You can check the status of your application by logging into your My Profile page and selecting from your current applications under “My Applications.”

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