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Cashier: Career Information

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Cashiers:

A cashier takes payments for merchandise from customers in a retail establishment such as a restaurant, gas station, movie theater or a grocery, convenience or department store. If selling items such as cigarettes and alcohol, he or she may be required to check for proof of legal age. A cashier also process returns and refunds. Since he or she is sometimes the first employee customers see when entering a business, a cashier usually has to greet them, answer their questions and respond to their complaints. Sometimes a cashier has other duties such as placing price tags on items, putting products on shelves and keeping the store neat and clean.

Employment Facts:

Cashiers held over 3.3 million jobs in 2010. Twenty-five percent of all jobs were in grocery stores. Other jobs were in gas stations, department stores, fast food restaurants and drug stores.

Cashiers' schedules typically include evenings, weekends and holiday. They must take only scheduled breaks since registers cannot be left unattended. Their work can sometimes be boring as their tasks are repetitive. They suffer from fatigue because they usually spend their entire shifts standing.

Because they handle money, cashiers are sometimes the targets of robberies and homicides. However, many establishments limit the amount of money kept in registers at any given time which mitigates some of this risk. Other security precautions, such as cameras, help deter criminals.

Educational Requirements:

There are no educational requirements but employers filling full-time jobs often prefer applicants with high school diplomas. Students often fill part-time positions.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements:

Cashier jobs are entry-level positions which require little or no previous work experience. Most cashiers receive on-the-job training.

Cashiers must have good customer service skills. They are often the only workers with whom customers come into contact and therefore they must field questions and complaints in a friendly and courteous manner. Good listening skills will enable them to be attentive to customers queries and concerns. Those with short fuses need not apply. Cashiers must exhibit patience and sometimes restraint when dealing with upset customers who may seem unreasonable.

Advancement Opportunities:

With experience a cashier can move onto other, better paying, retail jobs. One might become, for example, a retail salesperson, a customer service representative or a manager.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of cashiers will grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2020 but, because of high turnover, job openings will be plentiful. This occupation will have more job openings than most others will.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings:

Cashiers earned median hourly wages of $9.05 and a median annual salary of $18,820 in 2011. Although the pay is low, retail store employees often receive a store discount.

Use the Salary Calculator at Salary.com to find out how much cashiers currently earn in your city.

A Day in a Cashier's Life:

On a typical day a cashier will:
  • ring up customers' purchases using cash registers and scanners
  • accept payments of cash, credit cards or checks. The latter two sometimes require that a cashier checks customers' identification
  • calculate change if not automatically done by the cash register
  • process returns, exchanges and refunds
  • explain store policies and procedures to customers
  • answer customers' questions
  • encourage customers to sign up for reward programs or store credit cards
  • check proof of age when customers purchase items containing tobacco or alcohol
  • count the money in register upon beginning and ending a shift
  • weigh produce and other items
  • put price stickers or tags on items
  • keep front end merchandise displays, for example magazine racks, neat

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Cashiers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/cashiers.htm (visited February 5, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Cashiers, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/41-2011.00 (visited February 5, 2013).

Should You Become a Cashier? Take a Quiz to Find Out.

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