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Bank tellers interact with the majority of bank customers. Tellers generally handle a wide range of banking transactions, such as cashing checks, accepting deposits and loan payments, and processing withdrawals. They sell savings bonds; accept payment for customers' utility bills; receive deposits for special accounts; keep records and perform the necessary paperwork for customer loans; process the proliferating variety of certificates of deposit and money market accounts; and sell travelers' checks. Some tellers specialize in handling foreign currencies or commercial or business accounts.
Before cashing a check, the teller must verify the date, bank name, and identity of the person to receive payment, and see that the document is legal tender, that written and numerical amounts agree, and that the account has sufficient funds to cover the check. The teller must carefully count out the cash to avoid errors. Sometimes a customer withdraws money in the form of a cashier's check, which the teller prepares and verifies. When accepting a deposit, the teller checks the accuracy of the deposit slip and processes the transaction. Tellers may use machines to calculate and record transactions and to prepare documents, such as receipts and drafts. In some banks, they type or write deposit receipts and passbook entries by hand, but this is uncommon. In most banks, tellers use computer terminals to record deposits and withdrawals. Some banks use very sophisticated computer systems that give tellers quick access to detailed information on customer accounts. Tellers may use this information to tailor their services to fit the ustomer's needs, or recommend an appropriate bank product or service.
The duties of tellers begin before the bank opens and end after the bank closes. They begin the day by receiving and counting an amount of working cash for their drawer; this amount is verified by a supervisor, usually the head teller. Tellers use this cash for payments during the day and are responsible for its safe and accurate handling. After banking hours, tellers count cash on hand, list the currency-received tickets on a balance sheet, and balance the day's accounts. They sort checks and deposit slips. Tellers also spend time learning about the bank's products and services and changes in the bank's procedures. They also spend time training to refresh and upgrade their skills.
Tellers process numerous mail transactions. Some tellers replenish cash drawers and corroborate deposits and payments to automated teller machines (ATMs). Head tellers supervise the work of other tellers and ensure that ATMs function properly.
Because banks offer more and increasingly complex financial services, most bank tellers are now being trained to act as customer service representatives in addition to their other duties. These tellers can briefly explain to customers the various types of accounts and financial services offered by their bank, and refer customers to more experienced customer service representatives or bank managers. (New accounts clerks, who also may act as customer service representatives, are discussed in the Handbook statement on interviewing and new accounts clerks. Bank managers are covered in the Handbook statement on financial managers.)
Tellers generally work during the day, Monday through Friday; some evening and weekend work may be required. The job offers ample opportunity to work part time with flexible hours; in some banks, 90 percent of tellers work part time. Banks often hire part-time, or "peak-time," tellers for busy banking periods such as lunch hours and weekend mornings. Increasing numbers of tellers work outside the traditional bank setting-in shopping malls, grocery stores, or other large retail establishments. Continual communication with customers, repetitive tasks, long periods within a fairly small area, and a high level of attention to security also characterize the job.
Bank tellers held about 559,000 jobs in 1994; over one-fourth worked part time. The overwhelming majority, about 97 percent, worked in commercial banks, savings institutions, or credit unions. The rest worked in personal, business, or Federal credit institutions; mortgage banks; security and commodity brokerages; and holding and other investment offices.
When hiring tellers, banks seek applicants who enjoy public contact and have good numerical, clerical, and communication skills. Tellers must feel comfortable handling large amounts of cash and working with computers and video terminals, since their work is highly automated. In some metropolitan areas, employers seek multilingual tellers.
Although tellers work independently, their recordkeeping is closely supervised. Accuracy and attention to detail are vital. Tellers should be courteous, attentive, and patient in dealing with the public, because customers often judge a bank by the way they are treated at the teller window. Maturity, tact, and the ability to quickly explain bank procedures and services are important in helping customers complete transactions or make financial decisions.
Many entrants transfer from other occupations; virtually all have at least a high school education. In general, banks prefer applicants who have had high school courses in mathematics, accounting, bookkeeping, economics, and public speaking. New tellers at larger banks receive at least 1 week of formal classroom training. Formal training is followed by several weeks of on-the-job training where tellers observe experienced workers before doing the work themselves. Smaller banks rely primarily upon on-the-job training. In addition to instruction in basic duties, many banks now include extensive training in the bank's products and services-so that tellers can refer customers to appropriate products-communication and sales skills, and instruction on equipment such as ATMs and on-line video terminals.
In large banks, beginners usually start as limited-transaction tellers, cashing checks and processing simple transactions for a few days, before becoming full-service tellers. Often banks simultaneously train tellers for other clerical duties.
Advancement opportunities are good for well-trained, motivated employees. Experienced tellers may advance to head teller, customer service representative, or new accounts clerk. Outstanding tellers who have had some college or specialized training offered by the banking industry may be promoted to a managerial position. Banks encourage this upward mobility by providing access to education and other sources of additional training.
Tellers can prepare for better jobs by taking courses offered or accredited by the American Institute of Banking, an educational affiliate of the American Bankers Association, or the Institute of Financial Education. These organizations have several hundred chapters in cities across the country and numerous study groups in small communities, and they offer correspondence courses. They also work closely with local colleges and universities in preparing courses of study. Most banks use the facilities of these organizations, which assist local banks in conducting cooperative training programs or developing independent training programs. In addition, many banks refund college tuition fees to their employees upon successful completion of their courses. Although most courses are meant for employed tellers, some community colleges offer preemployment training programs. These programs can help prepare applicants for a job in banking, and can give them an advantage over other jobseekers.
Opportunites for employment as a bank teller should be good for qualified applicants. While employment of bank tellers is expected to decline through the year 2005 and growth will not contribute to opportunities, many job openings should arise from the need to replace tellers who transfer to other occupations or stop working. Replacement needs will create many opportunities because the job turnover rate is high-characteristic of occupations that generally require little formal education and offer relatively low pay-and the occupation is large. Banks should continue to have difficulty finding prospective tellers with the desired skills, particularly as the duties of these workers become more complex.
The number of bank tellers is projected to decrease for a variety of reasons. One reflects changes in the banking industry. Banks are expected to decline in number and increase in size as interstate banking grows. As banks become larger, the operations, duties and responsibilities, and staffing of branch offices will change, and some branches will close. These changes are reducing the demand for tellers.
New banking technology is also decreasing the demand for tellers. The adoption of new technology in banking has been slow historically, but banks are increasingly using the available technology to gain a competitive edge. Some banks have introduced branches that consist entirely of ATMs and Kiosks. Kiosks use ATM technology and video screens and cameras to allow customers at several remote locations to conduct transactions with tellers at a central location. There are also banks which allow banking by computer and by telephone from one's home or office. Banks are also opening branches inside supermarkets and department stores; instead of tellers, they have ATMs and more highly trained customer service representatives, who can perform the standard duties of tellers, but who can also open new accounts and arrange for customers to receive other services or products sold by the bank.
In 1994, median annual earnings of full-time tellers were $15,300. The lowest 10 percent earned about $9,900 while the top 10 percent earned around $24,200. Some banks offer incentives whereby tellers earn supplemental rewards for inducing customers to use other financial products and services offered by the bank. In general, a greater range of responsibilities results in a higher salary. Experience, length of service, and, especially, the location and size of the bank also are important.
Some part-time tellers may not be eligible for certain benefits such as life and health insurance, although they may have higher hourly earnings in lieu of benefits.
Tellers combine customer service and a knowledge of bank procedures with quickness and accuracy to process money, checks, and other financial items for customers. Other workers with similar duties include new accounts clerks, cashiers, toll collectors, post office clerks, auction clerks, and ticket sellers.
General information about banking occupations, training opportunities, and the banking industry is available from:
American Bankers Association, Center for Banking Information, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20036.
For information on continuing education, preemployment training, and banking jobs, contact:
Institute of Financial Education, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60601-4389.
American Institute of Banking, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20036.
State bankers' associations can furnish specific information about job opportunities in their State. Or contact individual banks to inquire about job openings, and for more details about the activities, responsibilities, and preferred qualifications of tellers. For the names and addresses of banks and savings and related institutions, as well as the names of their principal officers, consult one of the following directories.
The American Financial Directory (Norcross, Ga., McFadden Business Publications).
Polk's World Bank Directory (Nashville, R.L. Polk & Co.).
Rand McNally Bankers Directory (Chicago, Rand McNally & Co.).
The U.S. Savings and Loan Directory1 (Chicago, Rand McNally & Co.).
Rand McNally Credit Union Directory (Chicago, Rand McNally & Co.).
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