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Nature of the Work
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Sources of Additional Information
(D.O.T. 209.567-014; 211.362-010, .367, .462, .467, .482-010; 249.467; and 294.567)
Supermarkets, department stores, gasoline service stations, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other businesses employ cashiers to register the sale of their merchandise. Most cashiers total bills, receive money, make change, fill out charge forms, and give receipts. Bank tellers, who perform similar duties but work in financial institutions, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.
Although specific job duties vary by employer, cashiers are usually assigned to a register at the beginning of their shifts and given drawers containing "banks" of money. They must count their banks to ensure that they contain the correct amount of money and that there are adequate supplies of change. At the end of their shifts, they once again count the drawers' contents and compare the totals with sales data. An occasional shortage of small amounts may be overlooked, but in many establishments, repeated shortages are grounds for dismissal.
In addition to counting the contents of their drawers at the end of their shifts, cashiers usually separate charge forms, return slips, coupons, and any other noncash items.
Cashiers also handle returns and exchanges and must ensure that merchandise is in good condition and determine where and when it was purchased and what type of payment was used.
After entering charges for all items and subtracting the value of any coupons or special discounts, cashiers total the bill and take payment. Acceptable forms of payment usually include cash, personal check, charge, and increasingly, debit cards. Cashiers must know the store's policies and procedures for accepting each type of payment the store accepts. For checks and charges, they may have to request additional identification from the customer or call in for an authorization. When the sale is complete, cashiers issue a receipt to the customer and return the appropriate change. They may also wrap or bag the purchase.
Cashiers traditionally have totaled customers' purchases using cash registersmanually entering the price of each product bought. However, most establishments are now using more sophisticated equipment, such as scanners and computers. In a store with scanners, a cashier passes a product's Universal Product Code over the scanning device, which transmits the code number to a computer. The computer identifies the item and its price. In other establishments, cashiers manually enter codes into computers, and descriptions of the items and their prices appear on the screen.
Depending on the type of establishment, cashiers may have other duties as well. In many supermarkets, for example, cashiers weigh produce and bulk food as well as return unwanted items to the shelves. In convenience stores, cashiers may be required to know how to use a variety of machines, other than cash registers, and how to furnish money orders. Operating ticket-dispensing machines and answering customers' questions are common duties for cashiers who work at movie theaters and ticket agencies. Counter and rental clerks, who perform many similar duties, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.
More than one half of all cashiers are on part-time schedules. Hours of work often vary depending on the needs of the employer. Generally, cashiers are expected to work weekends, evenings, and holidays to accommodate customers' needs. However, because of this, many employers offer flexible schedules. For example, full-time workers who work on weekends may receive time off during the week. Because the holiday season is the busiest time for most retailers, many employers restrict the use of vacation time from Thanksgiving through the beginning of January.
Most cashiers work indoors, usually standing in booths or behind counters. In addition, they are often unable to leave their workstations without supervisory approval because they are responsible for large sums of money. The work of cashiers can be very repetitious but improvements in workstation design are being made to combat problems caused by repetitive motion.
Cashiers held about 3,146,000 jobs in 1996. Although employed in nearly every industry, nearly one third of all jobs were in supermarkets and other food stores. Department stores, gasoline service stations, drug stores, and other retail establishments also employed large numbers of these workers. Because cashiers are needed in businesses and organizations of all types and sizes, job opportunities are found throughout the country.
Cashier jobs tend to be entry-level positions requiring little or no previous work experience. Although there are no specific educational requirements, employers filling full-time jobs often prefer applicants with high school diplomas.
Nearly all cashiers are trained on the job. In small firms, beginners are often trained by an experienced worker. The first day is usually spent observing the operation and becoming familiar with the store's equipment, policies, and procedures. After this, trainees are assigned to a registerfrequently under the supervision of a more experienced worker. In larger firms, before being placed at cash registers, trainees first spend several days in classes. Topics typically covered include a description of the industry and the company, instruction on the store's policies, procedures, and equipment operation, and security.
Training for experienced workers is not common, except when new equipment is introduced or when procedures change. In these cases, training is given on the job, by the employer or a representative of the equipment manufacturer.
Persons who want to become cashiers should be able to do repetitious work accurately. They also need basic arithmetic skills and good manual dexterity; and, because they deal constantly with the public, cashiers should be neat in appearance and able to deal tactfully and pleasantly with customers. In addition, some firms seek persons who have operated specialized equipment or who have business experience, such as typing, selling, or handling money.
Advancement opportunities for cashiers vary. For those working part time, promotion may be to a full-time position. Others advance to head cashier or cash office clerk. In addition, this job offers a good opportunity to learn an employer's business and can serve as a steppingstone to a more responsible position.
As in the past, employment opportunities for cashiers are expected to continue to be good, because of the many job openings created each year due to the need to replace the large number of workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Additional openings will be created by growth in employment of cashiers.
Cashier employment is expected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2006 due to expanding demand for goods and services by a growing population. Traditionally, workers under the age of 25 have filled many of the openings in this occupationin 1996, about half of all cashiers were 24 years of age or younger. Recently, some establishments have begun hiring elderly and disabled persons as well to fill some of their job openings. Opportunities for part-time work are expected to continue to be excellent.
Cashiers have earnings ranging from the minimum wage, to several times that amount. Wages tend to be higher in areas where there is intense competition for workers. In establishments covered by Federal law, those beginning at the minimum wage earned $5.15 an hour in 1997. In some States, the minimum wage in many establishments is governed by State law, and where State minimums are higher, the establishment must pay at least that amount.
In 1996, median weekly earnings for full-time cashiers were $247. The middle 50 percent earned between $198 and $328; 10 percent earned below $165; and 10 percent earned above $486.
Benefits for full-time cashiers tend to be better than for those working part time. Cashiers often receive health and life insurance and paid vacations. In addition, those working in retail establishments often receive discounts on purchases, and cashiers in restaurants may receive free or low-cost meals. Some employers also offer employee stock option plans.
Cashiers accept payment for the purchase of goods and services. Other workers with similar duties include food counter clerks, bank tellers, counter and rental clerks, postal service clerks, and sales clerks, all of whom are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.
General information on retailing is available from:
National Retail Federation, 325 7th St. NW., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004. Homepage: http://www.nrf.com
Food Marketing Institute, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20006.
For information about employment opportunities as a cashier, contact:
National Association of Convenience Stores, 1605 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314-2792.
Service Station Dealers of America, 9420 Annapolis Rd., Suite 307, Lanham, MD 20706.
International Mass Retail Association, 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 2250, Arlington, VA 22209-1998.
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Education Office, 1775 K St. NW., Washington, DC 20006-1502.
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