There are more than 3.5 million cashiers working in gas stations, dollar stores, fast food restaurants, big box retailers and other outlets in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). These employees are extremely important to companies, as they handle money and are usually the first company employees that a customer encounters when the customer enters the store. If you’re thinking about applying for a cashier position, here are a few things you need to know.

Job responsibilities for a cashier

A cashier’s chief responsibility is to ring up customer purchases at the check-out line, take money, make change and bag the items for the customer to take away. In addition, cashiers usually greet customers when they arrive in the store, stock merchandise, take inventory and keep the merchandise shelves and displays looking clean and orderly.

Cashiers generally work eight to ten-hour shifts. Some companies, such as gas stations, convenience stores and fast food restaurants, are open 24 hours a day, so these shifts could be overnight shifts.

Training and education to be a cashier

No post-secondary education or advanced training is necessary for most cashier positions. Most companies train cashiers on the job. A few offer formal training classes or online training. There are a few personality traits and aptitudes that will help to make a cashier better at his or her job. For example, since cashiers greet the public and work with customers for most of their shift, a positive disposition and cheerful personality is a plus. So is being good with math and numbers, since part of a cashier’s job is making change for customers. Yes, most POS systems indicate what change is due back to the customer, but nothing beats good old-fashioned addition and subtraction, if only to gauge whether the computer is giving you the correct answer. Having a clean, well-pressed and professional appearance is also essential for a cashier, as he or she is representing the company to the public.

Career possibilities for cashiers

A cashier position is an entry level position in most companies. This can be a great stepping stone to more advanced jobs within the company as it gives the employee a good feel for the type of customers the company attracts, the merchandise it sells and how the company operates on the ground level.  The natural next step for a cashier in most companies would be to apply for an opening as a shift supervisor. These employees are usually chosen from the existing pool of cashiers and are responsible for scheduling and supervising the cashiers on their shift. Shift supervisors can also be promoted eventually to assistant store manager and store manager.

Compensation for cashiers

According to the BLS, cashiers in the United States make an average of $10.11 per hour (or $21,030 for full-time work). This figure can vary somewhat depending on the region of the country where you work, your state’s minimum wage laws and your experience on the job. Many companies offer health and retirement benefits to full-time employees. Some also offer education assistance, where the company will reimburse you for college tuition or other relevant training upon successful completion of the course. Shift supervisors are usually paid a salary rather than an hourly wage.

The job outlook for cashiers

With so many cashier jobs in the United States, it’s likely that there will be at least a few available near you at any given time. The BLS indicates that the number of these jobs will remain the same over the next decade. Eventually, advances in technology, such as self-service check-out kiosks, will reduce the number of cashiers needed in the workplace.

Most companies accept applications for cashier positions at their individual stores. Some also accept applications online. It’s a good idea to go to the store prepared and dressed up to make a good first impression. You never know if the manager will be working that day or if he or she might wish to interview you on the spot.

Working as a cashier is a good introduction to customer service and to the working world. Such a position can also be a good stepping stone towards a career in retail or the restaurant industry.

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