Put your mathematical skills to work as a bank teller

CAREER SPOTLIGHT: BANK TELLER

Most adults have met bank tellers while involved in their weekend errands or opening bank accounts. Tellers process transactions at the bank, whether the customer wants to deposit funds, cash a check, or withdraw money. In many ways, a bank teller’s job mimics the responsibilities of a cashier at the supermarket except that transactions don’t include milk cartons or deli meats.

Some bank tellers aspire to greater responsibilities at work, while others intend to spend their careers behind the service desk. Either way, this career choice offers opportunities for advancement and a chance to work with other banking professionals.

What Is a Bank Teller?

Responsibilities

What does a bank teller do? Your primary job responsibilities involve meeting customers’ needs. When a customer approaches the service desk, you help that customer carry out a goal, such as depositing checks into a checking, savings, or investment account. You might also advise clients about outstanding loans and accept installment payments. Your bank teller job description can prove different depending on the size, location, and type of bank that employs you.

  • Verify customers’ identification when conducting transactions.
  • Accept cash, checks, travelers’ checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, and other monies; record those transactions for customers’ accounts.
  • Handle cash by accepting and dispensing cash depending on the customers’ needs.
  • Count money when receiving or distributing it to ensure accuracy.
  • Reconcile cash till at the end of every shift and record transactions based on the bank’s policies.
  • Maintain adequate cash on hand to serve each customer’s needs.
  • Sell alternate payment forms, such as money orders and cashier’s checks.
  • Inform customers about changes to their accounts or about new product offerings that might interest them.
  • Examine financial instruments to guard against forgeries and counterfeiting.
  • Refer customers to other banking employees when necessary, such as to a loan officer or personal banker.
  • Maintain the teller station based on the bank’s standards.
  • Provide receipts for all transactions.
  • Keep currency logs and check these logs for accuracy.
  • Follow instructions given by the head teller.
  • Help customers open new accounts, close accounts, and switch their money to different accounts.
  • Order new checks and debit cards for customers.

Work Environment

Bank tellers work in banks, credit unions, and other financial services institutions. This job is an indoor job, which means you’ll enjoy a climate-controlled environment, although you might have to stand for long periods during the day. Traffic can vary widely at different banks. Some institutions might experience an almost endless number of customers who need help from tellers, while other banks may experience some downtime over the course of operating hours.

In some cases, bank tellers must face customer complaints. Customers who disagree with a bank policy can get bothered, and you must try to calm the customer and explain the situation as calmly and succinctly as possible. If necessary, you can involve a head teller or bank manager to help you defuse the situation.

You’ll spend much of your day communicating with other people. If social situations cause you stress or anxiety, you might find a job as a bank teller too overwhelming. However, if you enjoy working with people, and if you have excellent customer service skills, you might enjoy the dynamic environment. You might also get to know some of your customers by name, which will allow you to create rapport and nurture relationships.

You must dress appropriately to work as a bank teller. Each bank sets its own rules for employee dress codes, so follow them closely. Some banks might prohibit tattoos, piercings, certain hairstyles, and other personal styling choices.

Schedule

Although many banks have expanded their operating hours to give better customer service, most bank tellers will work traditional business hours. You might work later on Friday nights to suit customers who want to deposit their paychecks or for brief hours on Saturdays, but you won’t have to work late nights or Sundays. Additionally, banks observe all major federal holidays.

This job does not offer telecommuting opportunities, but you might find banks that offer flexible working schedules. For example, employees might have to work only one or two Saturdays per month, which can help even out the downsides of weekend work.

What Qualifications Are Required to Be a Bank Teller?

Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most banks don’t demand more education than a high school diploma or the equivalent. You can still get hired if you have a college degree or if you’ve taken college-level courses, but banks typically don’t insist on higher education.

The BLS reports that most banks offer on-the-job training for new tellers. The training period lasts about 30 days and introduces the teller to the bank’s policies, regulations, and operating rules. You’ll learn how to handle, manage, and protect cash, as well as how to run the bank’s software program.

If you want to move up from your job as a bank teller, you can take finance-related courses or get your college degree in a related field. You could major in finance, business, accounting, economics, or statistics.

Experience

Since banks give on-the-job training, you don’t need any specific experience. The BLS suggests that some banks run background checks on potential employees, so if you have any serious legal issues in your past, tell the bank when you apply. For example, a financial institution likely won’t hire a job seeker who has convictions for finance-related crimes.

Some banks might look for employees with earlier experience in customer service. If you’ve worked in retail, for example, you might find this job an excellent fit, as you’ll use many of the same skills.

Skills

Several skills can prepare you for your job as a bank teller and help you succeed.

  • 10-key: Fast 10-key typing skills allow you to record numbers quickly while processing transactions.
  • Math: You might easily find work as a bank teller if you’re comfortable with basic mathematical equations.
  • Customer Service: Knowing how to talk to people, listen to their concerns, and communicate information will serve you well as a bank teller.
  • Accuracy: A transposed number or lost transaction record could prove disastrous, so you’ll need an accurate mindset with the ability to pay attention to details.
  • Problem Solving: When customers need help or you discover a problem with the computer system at work, problem-solving skills will help you resolve issues quickly.
  • Teamwork: You’ll work with other professionals at the bank and will occasionally collaborate with them. Working well with others will help you get along with your colleagues and help one another solve problems.
  • Cash Handling: Knowing how to handle cash effectively and safely will become a critical part of your job.
  • Salesmanship: Many banks expect tellers to cross-sell, up-sell, and otherwise entice customers to take advantage of new products and services. Increasing the bank’s revenue will make you an integral member of a banking team.
  • Time Management: When your bank experiences a high volume of customers, you must be sure to accurately but quickly handle transactions in a timely manner.
  • Languages: Bilingual and multilingual bank tellers can become tremendous assets to their employers because they can communicate easily with customers who speak foreign languages.

Salary Expectations

How much do bank tellers make? The answer depends on your experience level and the type of bank where you work. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for bank tellers as of 2015 is around $26,410 per year, or $12.70 per hour. The best-paid tellers earn a little more than $30,000, while entry-level tellers can earn $20,000 or less.

Job Outlook for Bank Tellers

Projected Growth

The BLS estimates an 8 percent decline in bank teller jobs between 2014 and 2024. Banks have increasingly begun to rely on ATMs and other technology that make financial transactions automatic. Customers can use an ATM to withdraw cash or deposit a check, both functions which eliminates the need for an in-person teller. This decline in jobs will result in about 40,000 lost jobs, according to the BLS.

Career Trajectory

While the bank teller career might not enjoy excellent salary or growth potential, banks will remain a critical part of the world’s financial ecosystem. Advancing in your career can offer more job security and increase your pay. Getting promoted from within will allow you to stay in the same work environment, but you can also seek higher positions at other banks and credit unions.

Many bank tellers move on to become head tellers, personal bankers, financial advisors, and bank or branch managers. You might need extra education or training to attain some of those careers, but you can choose a trajectory and plan your education for the career choice you want.

If you’re looking for an entry-level job that doesn’t involve cooking hamburgers, you might consider searching for bank teller jobs in your area. You’ll meet new people, learn how the banking industry works, and embrace new job opportunities if you’re hoping for a promotion.

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