What Does a Retail Store Cashier Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Maritsa Patrinos. © The Balance 2019

Cashiers often are the primary point of contact for customers, making it an important job in any brick-and-mortar operation. Cashiers need to be fast and efficient while providing great customer service at all times. Many cashier's jobs are broader than just point-of-sale (POS) operations. Some cashiers also have promotional, stocking, cleaning, selling, greeting, and accounting duties as well.

Cashier Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Operate POS system
  • Handle cash
  • Provide correct change
  • Know store policies
  • Handle returns and exchanges
  • Customer service
  • Help clean and maintain business

The primary responsibility for cashiers is ringing up sales for customers. This typically involves being stationed at a POS workstation where the amount of the sale is totaled, and payment is accepted by way of cash, credit or debit card, gift card, or check. Cashiers need to greet customers in a friendly manner and address any questions in the best way possible.

Because cash is involved, cashiers need to be able to balance their drawers at the end of their shifts.

Cashiers also are sometimes responsible for helping to stock shelves, keep the location clean and orderly, and help customers on the sales floor. Helping to keep track of inventory or place signage for store promotions also can be part of the responsibilities.

Cashier Salary

Pay for cashiers often is little more than minimum wage, but some retail outlets also might pay commissions for employees who also work on a sales floor.

  • Median Hourly Pay: $10.78 ($22,422 annually if full time)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $14.47 ($30,097 annually if full time)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $8.49 ($17,659 annually if full time)

Education, Training, & Certification

Most jobs for cashiers are entry-level positions, and educational requirements are minimal.

  • Education: Getting a job as a cashier typically does not even require a high school diploma, making it a common first job for some high school students. However, advancement to positions such as assistant manager or manager often requires a diploma or some college, depending on the store.
  • Restrictions: Different states have different age requirements for cashiers at stores that sell alcohol or tobacco products. Though the minimum age to purchase alcohol is 21 in all states, some states allow those aged 18-20 to sell it.
  • Training: Most training is done on the job and generally involves understanding the store’s point-of-sale (POS) computer system and protocols specific to the store.

Cashier Skills & Competencies

Because retail store cashiers constantly handle cash and sensitive financial information, they must be trustworthy, honest, fair and maintain the privacy of customers without fail. Some of the other soft skills cashiers need include:

  • Math skills: Working quickly and efficiently requires cashiers to be able to do basic addition and subtraction in their heads accurately.
  • Computer skills: The point-of-sale (POS) systems cashiers operate are software programs run on computers. Cashiers need to be adept at learning and becoming proficient with the software and able to troubleshoot minor problems when and if they arise.
  • People skills: Interacting with a steady stream of customers is part of the job. It’s important to be friendly and helpful when working with customers. Sometimes, when customers have a problem or a complaint, it’s necessary to be patient and listen in order to best address the situation.
  • Stamina: Cashiers must be able to walk and stand on their feet for long periods of time. The job duties can be physically demanding, requiring lifting, bending, reaching, and carrying merchandise, as well as lifting and moving displays, promotional signage, and materials. 

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for cashiers are expected to decrease by 1 percent for the decade ending in 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is significantly worse than the 7 percent growth projected for all occupations. The lack of opportunities for cashiers is attributed to an increase in self-checkout lanes at retail stores and the growing popularity of online shopping.

Work Environment

It’s often necessary for cashiers to stand for extended periods of time at their work station or on a sales floor. However, some work environments allow cashiers to sit. Many retail stores require cashiers to be more active with helping customers, so they won’t always be stationed at a cash register unless they are ringing up a sale. Other jobs in locations like gas stations or grocery stores require cashiers to be positioned at a cash register for all or the majority of their shifts.

Work Schedule

Cashiers are needed to work at any time on any day of the week, depending on the nature of the business. Many gas stations are open 24 hours per day and require cashiers to work overnight shifts. Some grocery stores or other retail stores often are busiest during evening and weekend hours when many shoppers are off from work, meaning cashiers often are needed during those times. The holiday shopping season from Thanksgiving until Christmas also is a busy time for retail stores, and the demand for cashiers at that time is higher.

Many cashiers are part-time or seasonal employees.

How to Get the Job

APPLY

Check openings directly on business websites or through Indeed, Monster, or Glassdoor.

RESUME

Highlight experience handling cash or dealing with customers.

INTERVIEW SKILLS

Treat the interview much like an interaction with a customer. Be friendly, personable, and helpful.

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