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The Ups and Downs of Working as a Bank Teller

Updated on May 3, 2016

Jobs are harder to come by, and even if you have a college degree you may have to take something at an entry level to make ends meet. Many such jobs are unpleasant and quite a few will require you to work long hours, often including very early or very late shifts. This is why many choose to work at a bank. This list of pros and cons may not apply to every bank, because each has its own policies. If you decide to apply to work at a bank, choose one that fits your personality. Small town banks will have less stressful positions and let you really get to know your customers, but you may have a lot of down time. More popular banks have more stressful positions but will keep you busy and make your day pass quickly. Whichever you choose, here is a list of pros and cons of choosing this profession.

The Perks

  1. No one wants to spend weeks looking for a job and luckily teller positions aren’t usually hard to find. There are banks every where so you can usually find an open spot within a decent driving distance from home.
  2. You can keep a normal sleep schedule! This is a great job for parents because you have time to get the kids to school or a babysitter before work and you are out in time to pick them up and have dinner together. I should mention that some larger banks have decided to stay open longer in recent years but many banks and credit unions still have great hours.
  3. Banks have great benefits. Most banks offer medical, dental and vision insurance as well as a 401k, sick time and two weeks of paid vacation each year. Many also have tuition assistance and stock options. Plus, you get every federal holiday off with pay!
  4. Did I mention you get free stuff? Yes, it’s true. Sometimes you get free lunch for everyone in the branch, gift cards for the holidays, and many other items depending on the bank.
  5. If you enjoy talking with people, you’ve found the right job. Sometimes customers like to feel like they can trust the person that handles their money and will try to build a friendship with you. Some may even wait longer than necessary just so they can work with you rather than another teller.
  6. You can learn a lot of important things at a bank. It’s a good idea to pay attention to what the managers are doing and learn about things like mortgages and other loans, reading credit reports, etc. You may need a loan in the future or decide to become a homeowner someday and it’s a good idea to know what options you have and to understand the importance of good credit.
  7. The work is not too terribly difficult once you memorize the policies and procedures. If you’re not sure of something you can turn to your coworker for help as no teller is ever left alone at a bank. This reduces the chance of a robbery or the teller being tempted to steal on the job.
  8. While working as a teller you will develop important skills that will be valuable in many other occupations and experience at a bank looks great on your resume. Tellers work with numbers constantly and over time you may find your math skills improving. Organization is also very important as you will need to work quickly when it is busy and you can not make a mistake. This job comes with great responsibility which future employers like to see. Tellers are in charge of a large amount of money and they must make sure every penny gets where it is supposed to go.
  9. The working environment at a bank is usually very professional. There are exceptions of course but you will usually be working with respectable, classy people who dress nicely and can carry on an intelligent conversation. You also get to enjoy a nice air conditioned or heated building and should not ever have to worry about being responsible for cleaning as banks pay for a cleaning service to take care of that.
  10. Tellers usually make well above minimum wage. Not bad for an entry level job. Some companies also allow you to make a commission based on how many customers you can get to open accounts or take out loans.

The Drawbacks

  1. Tellers are frequently put in the position of making people angry. Anyone considering this job must be able to give customers bad news and stick to the rules when they try to pressure you to make an exception. Customers often don’t understand banking policies and procedures and no matter how many times you try to explain it to them they are only hearing that they can’t get what they want and believe the bank is out to get them.
  2. While bank jobs are not exactly hazardous, there is the risk of a robbery always in the back of your mind. If such an incident does occur, you must keep calm and think as clearly as you can. A robber may have a weapon or may only pretend to have one but you can not take that risk and must be prepared to do anything they say to get them out as quickly as possible so no one gets hurt. A teller should work on their powers of observation so that they can identify a suspicious person as soon as possible and remember as many details as they can to help the authorities catch the perpatrator.
  3. There are those who steal from the bank with a much more subtle approach. These are the con artists. These people will often seem friendly and trustworthy but in many cases could cost you your job. You must keep your guard up with people you are not familiar with and always remember your bank’s rules and regulations. While many may seem unnecessary they are there to protect the bank and will keep you from becoming unemployed. Tellers must watch for counterfeit bills and fraudulent checks every day and even the most careful can sometimes miss them. There are also people who will try to get information on accounts that do not belong to them and you must always ask for proper identification.
  4. As a teller, you may be required to meet a referral goal or at least assist the branch in meeting it’s goals each month. This means you not only have to carry out each transaction quickly and accurately, you also must inform the customer of the bank’s products and try to encourage them to open other accounts or look into a loan. This is not easy and will irritate most people. However, if you do not make your goals you may face termination and even if you aren’t personally responsible for goals your branch manager will not appreciate a teller who refuses to cross- sell.
  5. This is a job where simple mistakes quickly turn into major issues. A deposit slip that gets lost or a posting error can cause a customer to overdraft and aquire fees or you could cause them to miss important payments. Business accounts may not have enough funds available so their employees can cash their paychecks. If this error occurs on a Friday or Saturday sometimes a customer must go a day or two without access to any money due to your mistake. No matter how small this accident may seem to you it is a serious issue for the customer. You are also expected to perfectly keep track of every cent that does in or out of your drawer. You will count this drawer daily and if it is off by more than a dollar or two you will have to report it. If you have large differences or have them too frequently, you will be terminated. The amount of mistakes you are allowed to make varies with each company.
  6. Depending on your branch, this position can be quite stressful. Lines can get long and some customers take a lot of time to wait on, with lots of questions and transactions. Meanwhile, those in line are becoming impatient and irritable and do not want to hear you cross-sell or make small talk.
  7. You may have to be on your feet for long periods of time. Some banks may provide a chair which you will be allowed to use in between customers but most will require you to stand as long as there is a customer in the lobby which could mean that you have little or no time to actually sit.
  8. If you work in a slower branch you may have long periods with nothing to do. This may sound like a good thing but many banks do not allow things like cell phones, magazines or books out behind the teller line so you may not have anything to occupy your time except talking to your co-workers.
  9. Money is dirty. You can contract all sorts of sicknesses from handling money and forgetting to wash your hands. Many tellers keep hand sanitizer at their stations for use after dealing with obviously sick customers.
  10. Depending on the alarm system you always run the risk of making a fool of yourself by setting it off by accident. Banks usually have a way of having the police check with the branch to make sure it wasn’t an accident before they send officers but in some cases a bank employee forgets the procedures and one silly accident ends up costing the bank money for the false alarm.

Now you have a basic understanding of the life of a bank teller. It can be a great stepping stone on the way to that dream job! Which might even be closer than you think as many tellers are able to train on the job and move their eay up the ranks to a much higher paying position. If you are good with numbers and people this is a great place to start.


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 13 days ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Absolutely devine!

      Absolutely true!

      Loved your hub.

      I worked for 23 years for a weekly newspaper and for the public at the same time and you would not think that a cozy, stable job like mine had issues with customers.

      Not!

      My main pet peeve was we had a local minister who wanted me (which was part of my job) to design a display ad for him to show it to his deacon board to approve the budget for $65.00. Not a big deal, right?

      He came back the next day and asked if we would give him a copy of our ad . . .NO! We knew this con also.

      Hate to use this word con, but a lot of people will get a copy then copy their copy somewhere and put the event on local bulletin boards at stores, etc. Not a Godly way to operate.

      He got angry at us not giving him a copy. We stuck to our rules.

      Eventually, he cooled down and apologized.

      Still, no copy.

      Two roads departing.

      Keep up the great work.

    • profile image

      Emily 7 weeks ago

      I worked for two different banks for a total of 8 yrs and I can safely say it has more downs than ups. Yes you get good benefits but the pay is so low ( newly hired , inexperienced tellers get $10-11/hr) is simply not enough to get by ,own a house or raise kids on. It is very stressful , constant worry about balancing your drawer every day. If you have a more than a penny difference, you have to stay longer until you find it. You have to look through each transaction for mistakes. The money you make is not closely enough to compensate you for the stress. Most banks have a high turnover.

    • profile image

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    • profile image

      kiandra 20 months ago

      what csec subjects should I have to become a bank teller? I am from Jamaica. And I am very interested in this position

    • Matty Fernandez profile image

      Matty Fernandez 21 months ago from Passaic, NJ

      I was a teller for two years. I did not get to enjoy many treats, since the bank I worked for never had anything free. My customers always wanted to give us something but the bank had a strict policy with gifts. I did enjoy a coffee, and sometimes a good lunch. The bad side was working extra hours to find a mistake, in the case you had given extra money to someone you had to pray they would give it back. A lot of customers also did not understand that the problems with their accounts were out of our control.

    • DC Ziese profile image

      DC Ziese 2 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Good points to ponder. Thank you for sharing.

    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 2 years ago

      You have clearly detailed advantages and disadvantages of working as a bank teller. I enjoy your hub. Great job!!