You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Every Ryan Howard Job On The Office, Explained

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 1/22/2023 Zachary Moser
© Provided by ScreenRant

Ryan Howard holds many jobs throughout the nine seasons of The Office and each creates new opportunities for jokes to be made at his expense. When he first appears in season 1 of The Office, Ryan is working as a temp set on getting experience and leaving as quickly as possible. He doesn’t attempt to make any friendships, and it seems like he is ready to leave the job at a moment's notice. As a business school student and no-nonsense type at the beginning of the series, Ryan tends to avoid office hijinks in favor of keeping his head down and waiting for the chance to be promoted.

However, things don’t go as planned for Ryan and at the end of season 3, the smarmy and obnoxious aspects of his personality are clear. It’s at this point in The Office that Ryan Howard becomes a villain and the worst kind of insufferable, up-jumped boss who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and uses his position to pick on the employees in Scranton. This doesn’t last long and the rest of the series sees Ryan jumping from job to job and one get-rich-quick scheme to the next. His winding career path reveals that behind all the bluster he’s an inept and lazy worker trying to skate by.

Related: What BJ Novak Has Done Since Leaving The Office

Temp Employee At Dunder Mifflin (Season 1-2)

Ryan Howard’s first role in The Office is as a temporary employee of Dunder Mifflin. Ryan's day-to-day tasks are never clearly shown but it appears that he can clean out his desk at any time and forget he ever even worked there. For the first two seasons, Ryan is the audience surrogate, reacting to the increasingly ridiculous events surrounding him in a wide-eyed confusion that is even worse than John Krasinski’s famous Jim look. He is at his most relatable in this position, young and ready to work but caught completely off-guard by the antics of his boss and the other employees of the office.

Salesman At Dunder Mifflin (Season 3)

When Jim leaves for the Stamford branch in season 3 of The Office, Ryan Howard takes his place as a paper salesman, becoming more of a main character, and moving to Jim’s old desk. Dwight starts to insert himself into Ryan’s business the same way he did Jim’s. While sometimes Jim’s pranks may have seemed too mean, it’s made clear Dwight does a lot to antagonize those near him, like abandoning Ryan in the middle of a beet field. This is also when the audience begins to see that Ryan doesn't have a knack for sales compared to his seemingly less professional coworkers.

Vice President At Dunder Mifflin (Season 4)

Ryan’s immediate break-up with Kelly in the annex after receiving the promotion to VP is just a hint of how obnoxious and arrogant he is about to become. Ryan’s one-season arc is important for setting up a number of future storylines such as showing that Jim does care about his job when it comes down to it, that David Wallace may not have as great a handle on the company as previously thought, and that Ryan is really all talk. Ryan also does cocaine while in New York, lies to company shareholders, and gets arrested, losing the important position he coveted.

Temp Employee At Dunder Mifflin, Second Time (Season 5)

After his parole is granted in Season 5, Ryan Howard is hired back right away as a temp. In this position, Ryan pretends that everything is going well and still talks down to people. By this point, the veteran employees of Dunder Mifflin in The Office are no longer worried about Ryan having authority over them, despite what he marks down on his “list,” so they just ignore him or openly mock him. Kelly and Daryl have a brief relationship during this time that Ryan breaks up and right before getting back together with Kelly, his true maturity level is shown when he decided to run away to Thailand instead.

Related: Mindy Kaling Is Right About The Office (But That Shouldn’t Stop A Revival)

Bowling Alley Employee (Season 5)

When Michael Scott leaves Dunder Mifflin to start the Michael Scott Paper Company, one of the employees he recruits is his old friend Ryan Howard. Michael and Pam stop at a local bowling alley where Ryan is working the counter looking like one of the most changed characters on The Office. He quits immediately to join Michael, stealing bowling shoes in the process. Halfway through the series, Ryan drops all pretense of being an exceptional employee and is now a full-on lousy worker. It turns out he never even went to Thailand, and it seems that the former Vice President has lost a lot of motivation.

Salesman At The Michael Scott Paper Company (Season 5)

As a salesman at the Michael Scoot Paper Company, Ryan Howard continues to be a lazy and unreliable employee, taking calls during work and refusing to answer phones. With everyone crammed into one tiny closet to work, the trio starts off fighting, but Michael Scott proves he’s actually a great boss when he manages to unite the arguing employees. Ryan is at his most vulnerable in this job, his inability to make sales is more obvious than ever, but he manages to gain a little confidence working directly under and finally listening to Michael for once which brings back a little swagger into the character.

Salesman At Dunder Mifflin, Second Time (Season 5)

The Michael Scott Paper Company storyline ends with Michael, Pam, and Ryan all getting a big payout and jobs at Dunder Mifflin. Ryan Howard is once again a salesman on The Office and things are looking to be back on track. Despite having loathed the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin as early as season 1, along with critics of The Office, Ryan cannot seem to escape it and is back to doing the same job he was doing two seasons prior. It’s an example of how things tend to stay the same in Scranton and even the most striving employees end up settling down in the same place.

Temp Employee At Dunder Mifflin, Third Time (Season 5-6)

Ryan Howard is eventually moved back down to a temp role, the same position he held in season 1. Ryan has gone all the way up the corporate ladder and then right back down over the course of The Office. He is barely the same character from that first season and has decided to stop pretending to be a corporate climber and instead leans into a new-age, hipster personality that sees him doing even less work than before. Ryan has more or less stopped caring if he gets fired from Dunder Mifflin and appears content to just hang around the office spouting pseudo-intellectual information.

Related: Every Christmas Episode Of The Office

Entrepreneur And Founder Of WUHPF (Season 6-7)

As a temp in The Office, Ryan Howard is completely uninterested in doing his actual job. He spends his time playing Tetris, giving Creed life advice, and working on his new company: The idea is an alert system that activates every messaging device on a person. It’s not a great idea, but it attracts some Dunder Mifflin investors. This story arc is a perfect send-up of the Silicon Valley like start-ups that seem to be based on one small idea and the charisma of the founder. Ryan becomes even more insufferable as he refuses to sell out until he is actually forced to sit down and finish his project.

Customer Service Supervisor At Dunder Mifflin (Seasons 7-8)

After ends, Ryan Howard goes back to his temp work. When Will Ferrell’s Deangelo Vickers becomes manager of the Scranton Branch, Ryan lies and says he is Kelly’s boss so that no one realizes Ryan essentially has no duties. This lie works so well Deangelo makes it a permanent change. Finally, Ryan has his first full-time job on The Office since season 5. Of course, he still does nothing. Even the arrival of Robert California can’t motivate him to do more than some basic brown nosing, though it appears he’s doing so because he wants Robert to like him rather than Ryan having any professional aspirations.

Employment Unknown (season 9)

The Office’s final season sees Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard moving on. It makes perfect sense that at the beginning of the series, Ryan was constantly looking for ways to break up with Kelly but now that she’s leaving, he decides he wants her. The Office writers run away together when Ryan reappears in the finale, now with a baby. Always willing to shirk his responsibilities, Ryan leaves the child with Nellie. It is a fitting end to the character who has really been completely directionless for the series to run off into the sunset like he's in a movie, something he probably imagines about himself often.

More: The Office Creator's Reboot Approach Beats A Revival - But Still Wouldn't Work


More from ScreenRant

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon