Cashiers are trained on the job; this occupation provides
opportunities for many young people with no previous work experience.
Nearly one-half of all cashiers work part time.
Despite projected slower-than-average employment growth, good
employment opportunities are expected because of the large number
of workers who leave this occupation each year.
Many cashiers start at minimum wage.
Nature of the Work
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.
Although specific job duties vary by employer, cashiers usually
are assigned to a register at the beginning of their shifts
and are given drawers containing a specific amount of money
with which to start—their “tills.” They must count their tills
to ensure that they contain the correct amount of money and
adequate supplies of change. Cashiers also handle returns
and exchanges. They must ensure that returned 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 customer’s bill and take payment. Acceptable forms of
payment include cash, personal checks, credit cards, and debit
cards. Cashiers must know the store’s policies and procedures
for each type of payment the store accepts. For checks and
charges, they may request additional identification from the
customer or call in for an authorization. They must verify
the age of customers purchasing alcohol or tobacco. When the
sale is complete, cashiers issue a receipt to the customer
and return the appropriate change. They may also wrap or bag
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 and total charge forms,
return slips, coupons, and any other noncash items.
Most cashiers now use scanners and computers, but some establishments
still require price and product information to be entered
manually. 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 and sell lottery tickets.
Operating ticket-dispensing machines and answering customers’
questions are common duties for cashiers who work at movie
theaters and ticket agencies. In casinos, gaming change
persons and booth cashiers exchange coins and tokens
and may issue payoffs. They may also operate a booth in the
slot-machine area and furnish change persons with a money
bank at the start of the shift, or count and audit money in
Nearly one-half of all cashiers work part time. 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, many employers offer
flexible schedules. 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 often are 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.
In addition, the work can sometimes be dangerous; cashiers’
risk from robberies and homicides is much higher than that
of the total workforce, although more safety precautions are
being taken to help deter robbers.
Gaming change persons and booth cashiers can expect a safer
work environment than cashiers in other industries. However,
casinos are not without their hazards such as exposure to
fumes from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes and noise from slot
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
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. Gaming
change persons and booth cashiers are required to obtain a
license and background check from their State’s gaming board
and must meet a certain age requirement, usually set at 21
Nearly all cashiers are trained on the job. In small businesses,
an experienced worker often trains beginners. The trainee
spends the first day observing the operation and becoming
familiar with the store’s equipment, policies, and procedures.
After this, trainees are assigned to a register—frequently
under the supervision of an experienced worker. In larger
businesses, trainees spend several days in classes before
being placed at cash registers. Topics typically covered in
class include a description of the industry and the company,
store policies and procedures, equipment operation, and security.
Training for experienced workers is not common, except when
new equipment is introduced or when procedures change. In
these cases, the employer or a representative of the equipment
manufacturer trains workers on the job.
Persons who want to become cashiers should be able to do
repetitious work accurately. They also need basic mathematics
skills and good manual dexterity. Because cashiers deal constantly
with the public, they should be neat in appearance and able
to deal tactfully and pleasantly with customers. In addition,
some businesses prefer to hire persons who can operate 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 about an employer’s business and can
serve as a steppingstone to a more responsible position.
Cashiers held about 3.5 million jobs in 2004. Of these, 29,000
were employed as gaming change persons and booth cashiers.
Although cashiers are employed in almost every industry, 27
percent of all jobs were in food and beverage stores. Gasoline
stations, department stores, other retail establishments,
and restaurants also employed large numbers of these workers.
Outside of retail establishments, many cashiers worked in
amusement, gambling, and recreation industries, local government,
and personal and laundry services. Because cashiers are needed
in businesses and organizations of all types and sizes, job
opportunities are found throughout the country.
Opportunities for full-time and part-time cashier jobs should
continue to be good, because of employment growth and the
need to replace the large number of workers who transfer to
other occupations or leave the labor force. There is substantial
movement into and out of the occupation because education
and training requirements are minimal, and the predominance
of part-time jobs is attractive to people seeking a short-term
source of income rather than a full-time career. Historically,
workers under the age of 25 have filled many of the openings
in this occupation—in 2004, almost fifty percent of all cashiers
were 24 years of age or younger. Some establishments have
begun hiring elderly and disabled persons to fill some of
their job openings.
Cashier employment is expected to grow more slowly than average
for all occupations through the year 2014. The rising popularity
of purchasing goods online may reduce the employment growth
of cashiers, although many customers still prefer the traditional
method of purchasing goods at stores. Also, the growing use
of self-service check-out systems in retail trade, especially
at grocery stores, should have an adverse effect on employment
of cashiers. These self-checkout systems may outnumber checkouts
with clerks in the future in many establishments. The impact
on employment growth of cashiers will largely depend on the
public’s acceptance of the new self-service technology.
Job opportunities may vary from year to year, because the
strength of the economy affects demand for cashiers. Companies
tend to hire more persons for such jobs when the economy is
strong. Seasonal demand for cashiers also causes fluctuations
Opportunities will be strong for gaming cashiers as more
States legalize casinos and gaming becomes more popular. An
increasing number of gaming venues and high turnover in this
occupation will generate many job openings. However, many
casinos are finding ways to use less cash in their operations,
particularly the slot machines, which now generate tickets
that can be accepted by other slot machines.
Many cashiers start at the Federal minimum wage, which was
$5.15 an hour in 2005. Some State laws set the minimum wage
higher, and establishments must pay at least that amount.
Wages tend to be higher in areas in which there is intense
competition for workers.
Median hourly earnings of cashiers, except gaming in May
2004 were $7.81. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.72
and $9.10 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than
$5.91, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $11.30
an hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing
the largest numbers of cashiers in May 2004 were:
Other general merchandise stores
Health and personal care stores
Median hourly earnings for gaming cashiers in May 2004 were
$9.87. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.23 and $11.74
an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.07, and
the highest 10 percent earned more than $13.51 an hour.
Benefits for full-time cashiers tend to be better than those
for cashiers working part time. In addition to typical benefits,
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 and education-reimbursement plans.
Cashiers accept payment for the purchase of goods and services.
Other workers with similar duties include tellers, counter
and rental clerks, food and beverage serving and related workers,
gaming cage workers, Postal Service workers, and retail salespersons.
Sources of Additional Information
General information on retailing is available from:
National Retail Federation, 325 7th St. NW., Suite 1100,
Washington, DC 20004.
General information on careers in grocery stores is available
Food Marketing Institute, 655 15th St. NW., Washington,
For information about employment opportunities as a cashier,
National Association of Convenience Stores, 1605 King
St., Alexandria, VA 22314-2792.
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union,
Education Office, 1775 K St. NW., Washington, DC 20006-1502.
Source: Bureau of
Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition