when you think of bank tellers, you probably think of someone who sits behind a counter and counts money all day. but really, they’re customer service professionals who also happen to count money and provide banking services. it’s a job that requires strong math skills, a high dependability factor (after all, you’re being trusted with other people’s money and banking information), and excellent people skills. the truth is, you’re not just dealing with money all day—you’re dealing with people.
if you're looking for information on how to become a bank teller, the following guide will let you know everything you need in order to make it happen.
the many benefits of a bank teller job
being a bank teller is a great entry job if you’re thinking about a career in the finance world, or if you have strong cash-handling and people-handling skills from retail experience. depending on the bank that hires you, you could be looking at:
- paid, on-the-job training (or, for some banks, reimbursement for courses taken to prepare for the job)
- medical, dental, and life insurance
- a 401(k) retirement plan
- paid vacation and holidays
- a calm, quiet, and secure working environment
- a path forward to manager positions and beyond
- resume building, especially high-demand soft skills like trustworthiness, organization, and being detail-oriented
the qualifications you'll need
bank tellers don’t necessarily need tons of experience if they have the right skill set, but if you go down this path you should expect to be able to:
- do math quickly, and with total accuracy.
- handle money responsibly.
- look presentable and well-groomed at work (usually no obvious tattoos, odd piercings, or crazy hair).
- dress in business casual (or standard business attire if it’s a more formal bank).
there are also usually minimum educational, experience, and language requirements. depending on a particular bank’s policies, bank tellers will likely need to be:
- able to work legally in the u.s.
- fluent in english.
- a high school graduate, ged recipient, or higher.
- focused on providing fast, friendly customer service.
- able to multitask, while still doing things accurately and quickly.
and again, don’t underestimate the customer service piece. a bank teller might be dealing with a line of people, with distractions all around. as the front lines of the bank, tellers are a huge part of keeping things calm and moving along, even when things are busiest. if you are someone who can’t stop themselves from rolling their eyes at a particularly rude customer, or have no patience for the toddler clamoring for his mother’s attention while you deposit mom’s check, this might not be the right financial services career for you. however, if you can hand the kid a sugar-free lollipop and process mom’s transaction in one smooth motion while keeping a smile on your face, this could definitely be the right job for you.
the decision: is it the career for you?
if you have the base skills and interest in becoming a bank teller, it’s time to move into the gut-check phase, and ask your self these questions.
- can you pass a criminal background check and a drug test? you’ll be handling money, physically and electronically—the bank will need to know you’re a trustworthy investment.
- can you serve customers with good cheer and diplomacy?
- are you good with details, with an eagle eye for possible mistakes? for bank teller, mistakes can come with a very real price tag either for the customer or the bank itself.
- are you comfortable learning and offering a range of financial services to customers?
if you’re leaning toward “no” for any of these questions, then becoming a bank teller might not be your ideal path. but if all of these sound good and you’re ready to move on to the next step, it’s time to look at the how.
most banks offer on-the-job training for new hires, which teaches skills like cashing checks, processing deposits and withdrawals, using the banks own systems, navigating security protocols, and settling the cash drawer at the end of the day. tellers also have the option to get outside education as well, before they get a job as a teller. the american bankers association offers courses and certification for all kinds of banking professionals, including tellers.
the career outlook
according to the u.s. bureau of labor statistics, the median salary for bank tellers is $26,410 per year, or $12.70 per hour. the field is facing a slight decline over the next 10 years, due to automation and fluctuations in the banking industry. you shouldn’t let this discourage you, though—becoming a bank teller is still a great way to get your foot in the door for other opportunities down the line. atm machines may be able to dispense cash, but banks still need people to manage services and act as a quality control.
if you’ve got the people skills and the money skills, this is a great career building block for you. bank tellers build a lot of super-useful, transferrable skills that will take you to the next step in your career fairly quickly, whether that’s in banking or any other field that requires a focused, responsible eye.
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