The Ups and Downs of Working as a Bank Teller
Jobs are harder to come by these days. 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. This often includes 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 their 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 when working in this profession.
Pros and Cons of Being a Bank Teller
Positions are easy to find.
Frequently put in the position of making people angry.
Working hours are reasonable.
Chance of a robbery occurring.
They offer great benefits.
Can be a victim of a con artist.
They often give away free things.
May have to meet some sales goal.
You can build relationships with clients.
This is a job where simple mistakes quickly turn into major issues.
You can learn a lot about finance.
Job can be stressful at times.
The work is fairly simple.
You may have to be on your feet for long periods of time.
Can gain valuable work experience.
You may have long periods with nothing to do.
Professional work environment.
Have to handle dirty money.
Pays above minimum wage.
Potential to accidentally trigger alarm system.
The Perks of Working as a Bank Teller
- No one wants to spend weeks looking for a job. Luckily, teller positions aren’t usually hard to find. There are banks everywhere, so you can usually find an open spot within a decent driving distance from home.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, loans, reading credit reports, etc. You may need a loan in the future or decide to become a homeowner someday. It’s a good idea to know what options you have and to understand the importance of good credit.
- The work is not too terribly difficult once you memorize the policies and procedures. If you’re not sure about 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.
- While working as a teller, you will develop important skills that will be valuable in many other occupations. Experience at a bank looks great on your resume. Tellers work with numbers constantly. 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't 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.
- 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.
- 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 of Working as a Bank Teller
- 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. 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.
- While bank jobs are not exactly hazardous, there is always the risk of a robbery 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. You 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. You must also remember as many details as you can to help the authorities catch the perpetrator.
- 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. 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.
- As a teller, you may be required to meet a referral goal or at least assist the branch in meeting their 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. Even if you aren’t personally responsible for goals, your branch manager will not appreciate a teller who refuses to cross- sell.
- 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 acquire fees, or you could cause them to miss important payments. Business accounts may not have enough funds available for their employees to cash their paychecks. If this error occurs on a Friday or Saturday, a customer may 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 goes 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.
- 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.
- 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. This could mean that you have little or no time to actually sit.
- 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. You may not have anything to occupy your time except talking to your co-workers.
- Money is dirty. You can contract all sorts of illnesses 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.
- 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. However, a bank employee can forget the procedures. One silly accident could end up costing the bank money for the false alarm.
What Are the Duties of a Bank Teller?
Here are some of the typical responsibilities that bank tellers perform.
- Perform basic account services such as receiving deposits, cashing checks, issuing withdrawals, and answering any questions about bank services.
- Record and report all transactions.
- Cross-sell bank services and products.
- Perform special requests such as closing accounts, exchange foreign currencies, and go through safe-deposit box procedures.
- Package and maintain supply of currency, reconcile cash drawer, and turn in damaged currency to head teller.
- Comply with all bank operations and safety procedures.
- Maintain all client information as confidential.
What Are the Qualifications to Be a Bank Teller?
Here are some basic requirements that are generally requested to work as a bank teller.
- Education: As this is an entry-level position, a high school diploma will be the only educational requirement. A college degree will likely be needed for advancement into higher positions.
- Work experience: Any strong experience with customer service will be desired by the banks. Any experience in a role that has cash handling will be beneficial as well.
- Skills and abilities: On the job training will be provided, but many banks will look for you to posses certain abilities right from the start. This can include math skills, attention to detail, and strong communication skills. Computer skills will be necessary since you will be working with various accounting software.
What Is the Salary of a Bank Teller?
Salaries for bank tellers can vary widely depending on what region of the country you are in as well as what bank you work for. Generally speaking, salaries are better with national banks in states that offer higher minimum wages. The national average salary for tellers hovers at around $26,954. It can be as high as $39,000. This means bank tellers, on average, make around $11–$15 an hour.
What Is the Career Path of a Bank Teller?
Here are some potential careers that working as a bank teller can lead you to. The experience of a teller is very valuable in these jobs.
- Head teller: Tellers can become head tellers after some years of experience. They generally supervise and assist tellers and handle managerial tasks. They can take this work experience to other managerial roles or continue climbing positions at their bank.
- Personal banker: This role typically requires a bachelor's degree, preferably in finance or business. Personal bankers help sell financial products and services to clients. They help open accounts, obtain loans, and invest in certificates of deposit.
- Loan officer: A loan officers assist borrowers in obtaining loans, evaluate loan applications, and offers advice to bank management. This role typically requires a bachelor's degree.
- Bank manager: Bank managers handle all the daily tasks that are related to the basic operations of the bank. This includes hiring and training tellers, maintaining records of operations, and making sure that are regulations are being complied to. This role typically requires an MBA.
How to Be a Good Bank Teller
Here are some tips on how to be effective and efficient as a bank teller.
- Be informed on your policies. Learn all you can about your bank's protocols and services. It also helps if you know about federal regulations as well. Being knowledgeable will help you accomplish many tasks. It will also allow you to quickly answer any questions your clients bring up.
- Organize your workspace. Your station should be supplied with everything you need before your shift starts. Your supplies should be set so that everything is easily within reach for quick access.
- Actively communicate with a client. You should start every transaction by asking hat service they need. You could ask any follow-up questions from there for maximum efficiency. Give them your full attention and repeat back any questions or requests to ensure that all requests are communicated correctly.
- Be accurate with information. It helps to look twice at transaction numbers and any edits to client information. This will help avoid any future errors.
- Focus on single tasks. Multitasking can divide your attention and lead to possible errors. Focus on one task at a time so it gets your full attention.
- Practice mental math. It will be very helpful if you can do basic math in your head. If you can't, consider practicing this skill in your free time.
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! That job might even be closer than you think as many tellers are able to train on the job and move their way up the ranks to a much higher paying position. If you are good with numbers and people, this is a great place to start.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.