Learn About Being a Cashier

Get Career Info on Education, Earnings and Outlook

Cashier helping a customer in a super market
••• Ariel Skelley / Blend Images / Getty Images

A cashier takes payments for merchandise from customers in a retail establishment such as a restaurant, gas station, movie theater or a grocery, convenience or department store. 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.

Employment Facts

Cashiers held over 3.3 million jobs in 2012. Twenty-five percent of all jobs were in grocery stores. Other jobs were in gas stations, department stores, fast food restaurants and drug stores.

Since retail establishments are open during the day, evenings, weekends and holidays, cashiers are scheduled to work during those times. There are some minor difficulties associated with this occupation. Since registers cannot be left unattended, cashiers can only take scheduled breaks. The work is repetitive and that can be boring for some. They usually spend their entire shifts standing which can cause fatigue.

Cashiers can also 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.

Educational Requirements

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. Those who are under age 18 need employment or age certificates, commonly known as working papers. According to 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.

Other Requirements

Jobs are entry-level positions which require little or no previous work experience. Most cashiers receive on-the-job training. This occupation requires certain soft skills, or personal qualities. One needs 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 will enable them to be attentive to customers' queries and concerns. Those with short fuses need not apply. They must exhibit patience and restraint when dealing with upset customers who may seem unreasonable.

Advancement Opportunities

An experienced cashier can move onto better paying retail jobs. One might become, for example, a retail salesperson, a customer service representative or a manager.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of cashiers will grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2022 but, because of high turnover, job openings will be plentiful. This occupation will have more job openings than most others will.


Cashiers earned median hourly wages of $9.16 and a median annual salary of $19,060 in 2013. Although the pay is low, retail store employees often receive a store discount.

Use the Salary Calculator at Salary.com to find out how much cashiers currently earn in your city.

A Day in a Cashier's Life

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for cashier positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Operate a cash register including cash transactions, checks, charges
  • Greet customers in a timely, professional and engaging manner
  • Follow through on all customer questions and requests
  • Answer the telephone using the appropriate greeting
  • Set up cashier's station at beginning of shift and maintain funds appropriately throughout shift
  • Provide customer carry out service of merchandise on all large bulk purchases and purchases
  • Balance cash drawer as necessary
  • Observe customers and check identification for proof-of-age; deny sale of alcohol to underage or intoxicated customers
  • Maintain check-out area: fill register supplies, bags; wipe counter tops
  • Support global, regional, and store programs
  • Handle customer issues that may arise on the sales floor
  • Maintain an awareness of all promotions and advertisements

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionHourly Salary (2014)Educational Requirements
Retail SalespersonWorks in stores and other establishments, selling merchandise directly to consumers$10.29No formal requirements but some employers prefer applicants with a high school or equivalency diploma
Fast Food WorkerTakes and fills orders for food and drinks; collects payment and maintains dining areas$8.85No formal requirements; short-term on-the-job training
Counter and Rental ClerkReceive orders from customers who are renting merchandise or bringing items in for repair$11.47No formal requirements but some employers prefer candidates with a high school or equivalency diploma
Gaming Change Persons and Booth CashierGives customers tokens, chips and coins in exchange for cash$11.22High school or equivalency diploma

Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Cashiers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/cashiers.htm (visited June 19, 2015).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Cashiers, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/41-2011.00 (visited June 19, 2015).