What Does a Cashier Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Colleen Tighe © The Balance 2019 

A cashier takes payments for merchandise from customers in a retail establishment such as a restaurant, gas station, movie theater, or grocery, convenience, and department stores. He or she may be required to check for proof of legal age for purchases of cigarettes or alcohol.

Other duties including processing returns and refunds, placing price tags on items, putting products on shelves, and keeping the register area and the rest of the store neat and clean. Since the cashier is sometimes the first employee customers see when entering a business, he or she usually has to greet them, answer their questions, and respond to their complaints.

Cashier Duties & Responsibilities

This job requires candidates to be able to perform duties that include the following:

  • Welcome customers
  • Enter or scan customer purchases
  • Accept payments and making change
  • Provide a receipt and bag or wrap customer purchases
  • Answer questions about merchandise and store policies for customers
  • Assist customers with sign-ups for store credit or rewards cards
  • Count cash drawer money at the open and close of each shift

Cashiers may also need to check the age of customers if selling alcohol, tobacco, or other age-restricted products. When cashiers don't have customers, they may be required to sweep floors, organize and restock merchandise, take out the garbage, update merchandise displays, and attach price tags to merchandise.

Cashier Salary

A cashier's wage varies based on the type of employer, with pharmacies and drug stores paying the highest median wage at $10.60/hour, and restaurants paying the lowest median hourly wage of $9.54/hour.

  • Median Hourly Wage: $10.11
  • Top 10% Hourly Wage: More than $18.43
  • Bottom 10% Hourly Wage: Less than $10.27

Education, Training, & Certification

Applicants for part-time cashier jobs usually don't have to fulfill any educational requirements, but employers hiring full-time workers sometimes prefer to hire those who have a high school or equivalency diploma. Because of the limited educational requirements, this job appeals to students who want to work part-time.

  • Training: Most cashiers receive on-the-job training.
  • Work permit: Those who are under age 18 need employment or age certificates, commonly known as working papers. According to the United States child labor laws, they are restricted to working only during certain hours and for a certain amount of time during the school week.

Cashier Skills & Competencies

Cashier jobs are entry-level positions which require little or no previous work experience. This occupation does, however, require certain soft skills or personal qualities, including:

  • Friendly and courteous: People considering a cashier job should have good customer service skills. Cashiers are frequently the only workers with whom customers come into contact and therefore they must field questions and complaints in a friendly and courteous manner.
  • Good listening skills: Listening skills enable cashiers to be attentive to customers' queries and concerns.
  • Patience: Cashiers must exhibit patience and restraint when dealing with upset customers who may seem unreasonable. Those with short fuses need not apply.
  • Stay calm under pressure: Cashiers can infrequently face some serious risks on the job. Because they handle money, they are sometimes the targets of robberies and homicides. Employers are mindful of this, however, and many are proactive about keeping this from happening. They usually limit the amount of money kept in registers at any given time which mitigates some of this risk. Other security precautions, such as surveillance cameras, help deter criminals.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for cashiers over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is much lower than the average for all occupations, driven by advances in technology such as self-checkout and increased online shopping.

Employment is expected to decline by about 1% over the next 10 years, which is much slower growth than the average growth projected for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. Growth for other retail sales worker jobs is projected to be 1% over the next ten years.

These growth rates compare to the projected 7% growth for all occupations. Despite the decline in available jobs, job prospects remain good due to the need to replace cashiers who choose to leave the occupation.

Work Environment

Approximately 28% of cashiers work in food and beverage stores, with the remaining jobs being held in general merchandise stores, gas stations, restaurants, pharmacies, and drug stores. Cashier work can be repetitive and may require many hours of standing behind a counter. The job may involve stress due to dealing with unsatisfied customers.

Work Schedule

Cashier work schedules may allow for flexibility, but employees will most likely need to work weeknights, weekends, and holidays. Hours vary by the type of employer, and some operations, such as gas stations, could need cashiers to work overnight shifts.

How to Get the Job

PREPARE YOUR RESUME

Use this cashier skills list to see which of your skills and background to highlight and add to your resume. You can also prepare for interviews by reviewing this list of cashier interview questions and rehearsing your answers.

APPLY

Ask for cashier job applications at local stores and retailers. Try convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and drug stores. Dress presentably and professionally, and have a cashier-focused resume with you in case you have an opportunity to fill out an application on the spot.

BROADEN YOUR SEARCH

If your initial search doesn't turn up opportunities, consider applying to stores in new strip malls that will be opening soon. You can also make use of the databases at your local unemployment office or workforce assistance center to search for local cashier job openings.

Try inquiring about jobs in non-traditional business settings, such as your local hospital's gift shop or cafeteria, and your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Comparing Similar Jobs

An experienced cashier can move onto higher-paying retail jobs including management. A cashier might become, for example, a retail salesperson, a customer service representative, or a manager. People interested in cashier jobs may also consider the following career paths, listed with their median annual salaries: