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There are multiple ways to understand the cashier role. First, it’s important to consider the other names potential employers might use when they list cashier jobs. Depending on the industry or employer, you may find jobs looking for “sales associate”, or even a “clerks”. These are equivalent roles, so if you’re applying for jobs as a cashier, consider expanding your search to include roles falling under those names.
From a high level, cashiers (or sales associates, or clerks), work the register at a retail store or any other store that sells products. By “working the register”, we mean that your primary job is to receive the products a customer brings to the register for purchase, process those items through the system (either manually with the product code or through the barcode reader), take payment, give change (if cash is used), and then give the customer a receipt.
Depending on the employer, you may be required to take orders at the register and offer customers their product in return (such as in a fast food or fast casual restaurant).
Offer and maintain a friendly, positive customer experience
Study and be able to discuss pricing information, product availability, and product location information with customers
Receive and process sales using an established point-of-sale (POS) system
Verify credit transaction acceptance and properly handle card-related payment issues at the register (such as credit card rejection)
Handle cash payments by correctly calculating cash received and change due
Properly handle customer receipts, as required by company policy
Ensure customer questions or concerns are handled expediently
Process item returns as needed per employer guidelines
Receive and process discounts through coupons or discount codes
Verify customer identification for items where age requirements for purchase exist
Identify and properly escalate customer issues or complaints to managers, as necessary
Maintain a clean, safe, and orderly workspace
Balance cash register (count cash) before and after shifts
Work as a team to create a cohesive and productive work environment
Cashier duties may vary depending on employer and industry. When applying for cashier positions, review the listed duties, as well as ask about duties during job interviews with potential employers.
Want to know how to become a cashier, or better yet, a good cashier? Take a look at online reviews on places like Yelp and Google. When customers leave reviews on Yelp and other review sites, they might complain about sticky floors, but they’re just as likely to say good or bad things about how they were treated by the store’s representatives and cashiers. Customer service is the most important part of being a cashier; everything else is just icing on the cake.
Are you ready to launch or continue growing your career as a cashier? First, make sure you know how to become a good cashier, including understanding common cashier duties, tackling the basic education requirements, mastering important skills for success, and charting the best path to advance within the role.
Millions of people work diligently to become a cashier, but a much smaller percentage go the extra mile and explore how to become a good cashier. If your goal is to advance your career, consider the following education, training, and advancement tips to help increase your ability to get excellent raises and promotions.
Most cashier roles require a high school diploma or GED equivalent, at a minimum. However, you can still obtain a position as a cashier even without a high school diploma or GED. The vast majority of cashiers in the US (68%, in fact) have a high school diploma or equivalent, while 30% have less than a high school diploma. Just 1% of cashiers have a post-secondary degree of any kind.
Some higher-end retail positions may require an Associates’ degree, although this is incredibly uncommon, especially for entry-level cashier positions. However, career advancement as a cashier may require you to obtain an Associates’ degree in select concentrations (more on that later).
Few cashier jobs will require you to have a Bachelor’s degree. In fact, having too much education beyond the minimum requirement will cause employers to believe you are overqualified. That being the case, the best education level for individuals who wish to become a cashier is somewhere between a high school diploma and a GED, at least it comes this career path.
Thankfully, you don’t need any special training, courses, or specialized school to become a cashier (or a sales associate, or a clerk). Most employers hiring cashiers will provide on-the-job training. The training period may last a week, a month, or longer, depending on the complexity of the role. Most new hires will be work on a probationary period, where your employer will have either a more experienced staff member or a manager work directly with you to help guide you through the duties expected of you at each part of your shift.
Once you become a cashier, your employer may ask that you receive additional training for different types of purposes. If this occurs, your employer may pay for you to attend special training sessions or may host special training sessions at your place of employment.
Important Qualities & Skills
Some of the most important skills for cashiers include:
Cashiers should be able to actively and clearly communicate with customers. This will include the ability to coherently discuss and navigate customer issues.
The cashier role requires you to interact with customers throughout most of your shift. This will require you to be able to maintain a positive attitude while interacting with customers, as well as maintaining a helpful and engaging attitude during potentially stressful customer interactions.
You probably won’t need to be fluent in calculus, but most cashier roles will require you to have basic math skills, particularly when handling cash.
The cashier role may require you constantly handle objects. Physical dexterity may be required, which may also include having to lift heavy objects.
As this job requires handling money and products, a significant amount of integrity is expected.
As a customer-facing role, you may experience instances where interactions with customers become stressful or combative. Patience is highly appreciated by most employers and highly valued, particularly in positions where stressful engagements are common.
Store product knowledge
Cashiers should be extremely familiar with the products a store carries. This may include how the products work, where those products are located in the store, product prices, and product availability, among other things.
Most employers now used computer POS systems. Basic computer literacy and understanding of POS systems will be essential for a cashier.
In addition to the skills listed above, many of which are desirable for several jobs, there are other transferable skills you gain from being a barista such as:
Inventory and budgeting.
Some baristas become interested in roasting, training, managing, or operating a coffee shop or business. Baristas could be promoted to shift or store managers, leading a team of baristas through their shifts and constantly improving customer experience. You may decide to take your skills and expertise and open your coffee shop or franchise.
You could also be put in a management position where you recruit and hire other baristas, and train them through each of the skills it takes to be a good barista.
Baristas typically work less than 40 hours per week, but they could work part- or full-time. Shifts can vary but typically start early in the morning so that you can serve customers who are on their way to work. Most coffee shops close in the late afternoon or early evening, so late shifts are typically not common. However, you may find yourself working weekends and holidays as well.
Shifts can range from four to eight hours a day, typically with a 30-minute break.