Most jobs require only a high school diploma; tellers should
enjoy public contact, must feel comfortable handling large amounts
of money, and should be discreet and trustworthy.
About 3 out of 10 tellers work part time.
Most job openings will arise from replacement needs because
turnover is high.
Although the job outlook for tellers has improved recently,
employment is projected to grow more slowly than average.
Nature of the Work
The teller is the person most people associate with a bank. Tellers
make up approximately one-fourth of bank employees and conduct
most of a bank’s routine transactions. Among the responsibilities
of tellers are cashing checks, accepting deposits and loan payments,
and processing withdrawals. They also may sell savings bonds,
accept payment for customers’ utility bills and charge cards,
process necessary paperwork for certificates of deposit, and sell
travelers’ checks. Some tellers specialize in handling foreign
currencies or commercial or business accounts.
Being a teller requires a great deal of attention to detail.
Before cashing a check, a teller must verify the date, the name
of the bank, the identity of the person who is to receive payment,
and the legality of the document. A teller also must make sure
that the written and numerical amounts agree and that the account
has sufficient funds to cover the check. The teller then must
carefully count 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, tellers must check the
accuracy of the deposit slip before processing the transaction.
Prior to starting their shifts, tellers receive and count an
amount of working cash for their drawers. A supervisor—usually
the head teller—verifies this amount. Tellers use this cash for
payments during the day and are responsible for its safe and accurate
handling. Before leaving, tellers count their cash on hand, list
the currency-received tickets on a balance sheet, make sure that
the accounts balance, and sort checks and deposit slips. Over
the course of a workday, tellers also may process numerous mail
transactions. Some tellers replenish their cash drawers and corroborate
deposits and payments to automated teller machines (ATMs).
In most banks, head tellers are responsible for the teller line.
They set work schedules, ensure that the proper procedures are
adhered to, and act as a mentor to less experienced tellers. In
addition, head tellers may perform the typical duties of a teller,
as needed, and may deal with the more difficult customer problems.
They may access the vault, ensure that the correct cash balance
is in the vault, and oversee large cash transactions. Technology
continues to play a large role in the job duties of all tellers.
In most banks, for example, tellers use computer terminals to
record deposits and withdrawals. These terminals often give tellers
quick access to detailed information on customer accounts. Tellers
can use this information to tailor the bank’s services to fit
a customer’s needs or to recommend an appropriate bank product
As banks begin to offer more and increasingly complex financial
services, tellers are being trained to identify sales opportunities.
This task requires them to learn about the various financial products
and services the bank offers so that they can briefly explain
them to customers and refer interested customers to appropriate
specialized sales personnel. In addition, tellers in many banks
are being cross-trained to perform some of the functions of customer
Tellers work in an office environment. They may experience eye
and muscle strain, backaches, headaches, and repetitive motion
injuries as a result of using computers on a daily basis. Tellers
may have to sit for extended periods while reviewing detailed
Many tellers work regular business hours and a standard 40-hour
week. A substantial number work just part time. Full-time and
part-time tellers may work some evenings and weekends.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Most tellers are required to have at least a high school diploma.
Some have some college training or even a bachelor’s degree in
business, accounting, or liberal arts. Although a degree is rarely
required, graduates may accept teller positions to get into a
particular company or to enter the banking field with the hope
of eventually being promoted to professional or managerial positions.
Experience working in an office environment or in customer service,
and particularly cash-handling experience, can be important for
tellers. Regardless of experience, employers prefer workers who
have good communication skills and who are computer-literate;
knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software also is
Once hired, tellers usually receive on-the-job training. Under
the guidance of a supervisor or other senior worker, new employees
learn company procedures. Some formal classroom training also
may be necessary, such as training in specific computer software.
Tellers should enjoy contact with the public. They must have
a strong aptitude for numbers and feel comfortable handling large
amounts of money. They should be discreet and trustworthy, because
they frequently come in contact with confidential material. Tellers
also must be careful, orderly, and detail-oriented in order to
avoid making errors and to recognize errors made by others.
Tellers can prepare for better jobs by taking courses offered
throughout the country by banking and financial institutes, colleges
and universities, and private training institutions.
Tellers usually advance by taking on more duties in the same
occupation or by being promoted to head teller or to another supervisory
job. Many banks and other employers fill supervisory and managerial
positions by promoting individuals from within their organizations,
so outstanding tellers who acquire additional skills, experience,
and training improve their advancement opportunities.
Tellers held about 558,000 jobs in 2004. The overwhelming majority
worked in commercial banks, savings institutions, or credit unions.
The remainder worked in a variety of other finance and other industries.
About 3 out of 10 worked part time.
Employment prospects for tellers have improved recently. Employment
is projected to grow, but more slowly than average for all occupations
through 2014. Banks are looking at their branch offices as places
to attract customers for the increasing number and variety of
financial products the banks sell. As recently as a few years
ago, banks were closing branch offices and discouraging the use
of tellers in an effort to cut costs, but in a turnaround, banks
are now opening branch offices in more locations. They also are
keeping them open longer during the day and on weekends, a practice
that is expected to increase opportunities for tellers, particularly
those who work part time. Most job openings will arise from replacement
needs because turnover is high—a characteristic typical of large
occupations that normally require little formal education and
offer relatively low pay. Tellers who have excellent customer
service skills, are knowledgeable about a variety of financial
services, and can sell those services will be in greater demand
in the future.
Despite the improved outlook, automation and technology will
continue to reduce the need for tellers who perform only routine
transactions. For example, ATMs and the increased use of direct
deposit of paychecks and benefit checks have reduced the need
for bank customers to interact with tellers for routine transactions.
In addition, electronic banking is spreading rapidly throughout
the banking industry. This type of banking, conducted over the
telephone or the Internet, also will reduce the number of tellers
over the long run.
Employment of tellers also is being affected by the increasing
use of 24-hour telephone centers by many large banks. These centers
allow a customer to interact with a bank representative at a distant
location, either by telephone or by video terminal. Such centers
usually are staffed by customer service representatives, who can
handle a wider variety of transactions than tellers can, including
applications for loans and credit cards.
Salaries of tellers may vary with their experience and with the
region of the country, size of city, and type and size of establishment.
Median annual earnings of tellers were $21,120 in May 2004. The
middle 50 percent earned between $18,320 and $23,900 a year. The
lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,850, and the highest 10
percent earned more than $28,100 a year.
As in other occupations, part-time tellers may not enjoy the
same benefits—such as vacations, health and life insurance, and
pensions—as full-time workers.
Tellers enter data into a computer, handle cash, and keep track
of financial transactions. Other clerks who perform similar duties
include bill and account collectors; billing and posting clerks
and machine operators; bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks;
gaming cage workers; brokerage clerks; and credit authorizers,
checkers, and clerks.
Sources of Additional Information
Information on employment opportunities for tellers is available
from banks and other employers and local offices of the State
employment service and from:
Bank Administration Institute, 1 North Franklin St., Chicago,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition