Claire Dunphy's Career Timeline On Modern Family Explained

Of all the characters on ABC's "Modern Family," few are as driven as Claire Dunphy. Played by Emmy Award-winning actor Julie Bowen throughout the series' impressive 11-season run from 2009 to 2020, Claire is likely best remembered for trying to keep her hectic household in order despite sharing it with four large, disparate personalities. In trying to make sure everyone in her unit — including her eccentric husband — was taken care of, she often forgot to tend to her own aspirations.

Though her proudest achievements are likely her three children, Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould), or her enduringly vibrant marriage with her husband Phil (Ty Burrell), Claire also has a long and diverse career to celebrate as well. From terrible summer jobs to becoming an executive at her favorite company, we've taken a look at her many jobs throughout her lifetime. And while some may have been more glamorous than others, they all helped her become the formidable woman her family loves her for being.

Claire was once on track to become a figure skater with Mitchell

In the Season 1 episode "En Garde" — in which the family rallies to support Manny's (Rico Rodriguez) uncanny knack for fencing — Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) bitterly reveals that he and Claire were once a formidable ice skating duo that performed under the name Fire & Nice ("I was 'fire,' 'cause of the red hair, and Claire was 'nice,' because it was ironic and she wasn't"). Despite their success and Mitchell's enthusiasm, Claire abandoned the venture just before the 13 & Under Regional Championships, meaning that both of their careers as ice dancers ended sometime before her 14th birthday in 1984 — not including the impromptu parking lot revival of Fire & Nice in 2009.

Also during her teen years, Claire worked at a roller skating rink alongside a boy named Jeff (Lex Medlin). According to him, the two had a one-off kiss sometime during her employment. Though an exact date isn't explicitly stated by the series, it's likely this was sometime after she left Fire & Nice. 

Claire would return to the skating rink she once worked at almost three decades later with her family for a fundraising event (featured in the Season 4 episode "My Hero"). She is slightly shocked to learn that Jeff still works at the rink, though he seems relatively happy to do so. Later, he reveals that he fathered a child since they last met, though he's still clearly infatuated with Claire.

In college, Claire worked several jobs before giving birth to Haley

In "My Hero," Jay (Ed O'Neill) attempts to corner Claire into a job offer at his closet company, Pritchett's Closets and Blinds, but Claire resists due to her first unpleasant working experience with her father 20 years earlier. In a position that lasted just a few weeks during one summer in the early '90s, Claire remembers being condescended to and belittled constantly by Jay, and felt that working for him only fueled her destructive desire for his unattainable approval. Given that she only worked for Pritchett's Closets and Blinds during the summer period, it's likely this was directly before or during her early years in college.

As she claims in Season 6's "Queer Eyes, Full Hearts," Claire didn't stop working when she began to pursue higher education. While maintaining a 4.0 GPA at age 20 (1990), she says she worked 25 hours a week. She doesn't state which company she worked for at the time, but contextually it seems as though this was during her tenure at Starcrest Hotels. She worked for the hospitality chain as an accounts manager until she became unexpectedly pregnant with her first daughter, Haley, in 1993. 

During this same period in her 20s, Claire says she also volunteered at a suicide prevention hotline.

While raising her children, Claire ran for a seat on the town council

After Haley's birth, Claire made the difficult choice to focus on raising her children full-time, while Phil financially supported their family through his career as a real estate agent. Though being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most difficult and under-appreciated jobs in the world, she considers herself to have been out of the workforce during this time (which ultimately lasted 20 years).

Yet, while she may not have been earning a paycheck for it, Claire began venturing into a brand new field of work — politics. In 2012, she kicked off a campaign for a seat on the town council, largely out of a desire to install a stop sign on a dangerous road near her home. Unfortunately, Claire's campaign was as chaotic as it was unsuccessful, and she lost to Councilman Duane Bailey (David Cross) the same day that Haley finds out she got waitlisted for college. As a show of good faith, her rival ultimately did install the stop sign that inspired her to run in the first place.

After 20 years, Claire and Jay finally worked together again

In 2013, Claire resolved the residual resentment stemming from her first job working with her dad and returned to Pritchett's Closets and Blinds. She is almost immediately confronted with new challenges, however, not least among them being the awkward stigma that comes from being the boss' daughter. Jay also attempts to play some "Succession" level mind games with Claire in order to determine her future at the company, though they predictably blow up in his face.

Soon enough, he finally appoints her as CEO of Pritchett's Closets and Blinds. In Season 9, they are introduced to a competing closet company called Ezravision, which is marketed as a "high-tech" alternative to traditional closet stores. Ezravision makes an offer to Claire and Jay to buy Pritchett's Closets and Blinds, which they initially reject. However, after discovering Ezravision's desperate need for distribution help and coming to terms with their own shortcomings, Claire persuades all parties to agree to a merger.

Claire becomes the Senior VP of Organize 'Em in Season 11

In 2020, Claire gets an interview to be the Senior Vice President of a chain of office supply stores called Organize 'Em. Though Claire is ecstatic at the prospect of working for her favorite company at such a high level, she's daunted by having to meet with Audrey Beckman (Wendie Malick), the exacting founder of Organize 'Em whom Claire describes as "a god" to people living with OCD.

In true Phil fashion, the Dunphy patriarch enlists the help of his father-in-law to finally fix that step on the same day as Claire's interview. If the noisy construction project wasn't bad enough, Claire falls through the stair and becomes trapped between two pipes below. 

Jay and Phil make it up to her by helping her execute her organizational presentation from the stairs. Together, they manage to land Claire her dream job, and she ends the series as the Senior VP of Organize 'Em.