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Occupation Profile for Tellers

Receive and pay out money. Keep records of money and negotiable instruments involved in a financial institution's various transactions.


Significant Points

  • Tellers should enjoy working with the public, feel comfortable handling large amounts of money, and be discreet and trustworthy.
  • About 1 out of 4 tellers work part time.
  • Many job openings will arise from replacement needs because many tellers eventually leave for jobs in other occupations that offer higher pay or more responsibility.
  • Employment of tellers is projected to grow as fast as the average; good job prospects are expected.


$22,140.00 Median Annual Wage 35,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
3.7 Average Unemployment Percentage 38.9 Percentage That Completed High School
608,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 44.8 Percentage That Had Some College
689,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 16.4 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Account Representative
Bank Representative
Bank Teller
Collection Teller
Commercial Teller
Coupon Clerk
Customer Service Associate (CSA)
Customer Service Representative (CSR)
Drive-in Teller
Exchange Clerk
Exchange Teller
Foreign Banknote Teller Trader
Foreign Exchange Clerk
Loan Teller
Mail Teller
Member Services Representative
Money Counter
Money Order Clerk
Note Teller
Paying Teller
Personal Banking Representative
Receiving Teller
Roving Teller
Savings Teller
Securities Teller
Teller Coordinator
Teller, Vault
Universal Banker
Utility Teller

  • These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, pharmacy technicians, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
  • These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate's or bachelor's degree could be needed.
  • Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience may be helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a teller might benefit from experience working directly with the public, but an inexperienced person could still learn to be a teller with little difficulty.
  • Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.

Most teller jobs require a high school diploma or higher degree. Tellers are usually trained on the job.

Education and training. Most tellers are required to have at least a high school diploma, but some have completed some college training or even a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, or liberal arts. Although a college degree is rarely required, graduates sometimes accept teller positions to get started in banking or in a particular company with the hope of eventually being promoted to managerial or other positions.

Once hired, tellers usually receive on-the-job training. Under the guidance of a supervisor or other senior worker, new employees learn company procedures. Some formal classroom training also may be necessary, such as training in specific computer software.

Other qualifications. Experience working in an office environment or in customer service, and particularly in cash-handling can be important for tellers. Regardless of experience, employers prefer workers who have good communication and customer service skills. Knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software is also valuable.

Tellers should enjoy contact with the public. They must have a strong aptitude for numbers and feel comfortable handling large amounts of money. They should be discreet and trustworthy because they frequently come in contact with confidential material. Tellers also must be careful, orderly, and detail-oriented to avoid making errors and to recognize errors made by others.

Advancement. Tellers usually advance by taking on more duties and being promoted to head teller or to another supervisory job. Many banks and other employers fill supervisory and managerial positions by promoting individuals from within their organizations, so outstanding tellers who acquire additional skills, experience, and training improve their advancement opportunities. Tellers can prepare for jobs with better pay or more responsibility by taking courses offered by banking and financial institutes, colleges and universities, and private training institutions.

Nature of Work

The teller is the worker most people associate with their bank. Among the responsibilities of tellers are cashing checks, accepting deposits and loan payments, and processing withdrawals. Tellers make up approximately one-fourth of bank employees and conduct most of a bank’s routine transactions.

Prior to starting their shifts, tellers receive and count an amount of working cash for their drawers. A supervisor—usually the head teller—verifies this amount. Tellers disburse this cash during the day and are responsible for its safe and accurate handling. Before leaving, tellers count their cash on hand, list the currency received on a balance sheet making sure that the accounts balance, and sort checks and deposit slips. Over the course of a workday, tellers also may process numerous mail transactions. They also may sell savings bonds, accept payment for customers’ utility bills and charge cards, process necessary paperwork for certificates of deposit, and sell travelers’ checks. Some tellers specialize in handling foreign currencies or commercial or business accounts. Other tellers corroborate deposits and payments to automated teller machines (ATMs).

Being a teller requires a great deal of attention to detail. Before cashing a check, a teller must verify the date, the name of the bank, the identity of the person who is to receive payment, and the legality of the document. A teller also must make sure that the written and numerical amounts agree and that the account has sufficient funds to cover the check. The teller then must carefully count cash to avoid errors. Sometimes a customer withdraws money in the form of a cashier’s check, which the teller prepares and verifies. When accepting a deposit, tellers must check the accuracy of the deposit slip before processing the transaction.

As banks begin to offer more and increasingly complex financial services, tellers are being trained to identify customers who might want to buy these services. This task requires them to learn about the various financial products and services the bank offers so that they can explain them to customers and refer interested customers to appropriate specialized sales personnel. In addition, tellers in many banks are being cross-trained to perform some of the functions of customer service representatives. (customer service representatives are discussed separately in the Handbook.)

Technology continues to play a large role in the job duties of all tellers. In most banks, for example, tellers use computer terminals to record deposits and withdrawals. These terminals often give them quick access to detailed information on customer accounts. Tellers can use this information to tailor the bank’s services to fit a customer’s needs or to recommend an appropriate bank product or service.

In most banks, head tellers manage teller operations. They set work schedules, ensure that the proper procedures are adhered to, and act as mentors to less experienced tellers. In addition, head tellers may perform the typical duties of a front-line teller, as needed, and may deal with the more difficult customer problems. They may access the vault, ensure that the correct cash balance is in the vault, and oversee large cash transactions.

Work environment. Tellers work in an office environment. They may experience eye and muscle strain, backaches, headaches, and repetitive motion injuries as a result of using computers every day. Tellers may have to sit for extended periods while reviewing detailed data.

Many tellers work regular business hours and a standard 40-hour week. Sometimes, they work evenings and weekends to accommodate extended bank hours. About 1 in 4 tellers worked part time.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Salaries of tellers vary with experience, region of the country, size of city, and type and size of establishment. Median annual earnings of tellers were $22,140 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $19,300 and $25,880 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30,020 a year in May 2006.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Tellers
  • Job Outlook

    Employment of tellers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job prospects should be favorable due to the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave the occupation.

    Employment change. Employment is projected to grow by 13 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. To attract customers, banks are opening new branch offices in a variety of locations, such as grocery stores and shopping malls. Banks are also keeping their branches open longer during the day and on weekends. Both of these trends are expected to increase job opportunities for tellers, particularly those who work part time.

    Despite the improved outlook, automation and technology will continue to reduce the need for tellers who perform only routine transactions. For example, increased use of ATMs, debit cards, credit cards, and the direct deposit of pay and benefit checks have reduced the need for bank customers to interact with tellers for routine transactions. Electronic banking—conducted over the telephone or the Internet—also is spreading rapidly throughout the banking industry and will reduce the need for tellers in the long run.

    Employment of tellers also is being affected by the increasing use of 24-hour telephone centers by many large banks. These centers allow a customer to interact with a bank representative at a distant location, either by telephone or by video terminal. Such centers usually are staffed by customer service representatives.

    Job prospects. Job prospects for tellers are expected to be favorable. In addition to job openings expected from growth, most openings will arise from the need to replace the many tellers who transfer to other occupations—which is common for large occupations that normally require little formal education and offer relatively low pay. Prospects will be best for tellers with excellent customer service skills, knowledge about a variety of financial services, and the ability to sell those services.


    Tellers held about 608,000 jobs in 2006. The overwhelming majority of tellers worked in commercial banks, savings institutions, or credit unions. The remainder worked in a variety of other finance and other industries.

    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    • Supplemental — Inform customers about foreign currency regulations, and compute transaction fees for currency exchanges.
    • Supplemental — Monitor bank vaults to ensure cash balances are correct.
    • Core — Examine checks for endorsements and to verify other information such as dates, bank names, identification of the persons receiving payments and the legality of the documents.
    • Supplemental — Quote unit exchange rates, following daily international rate sheets or computer displays.
    • Supplemental — Order a supply of cash to meet daily needs.
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
    Related College Curriculum
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