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In Demand: Cashiers

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Every time you pay for your gas, a gallon of milk or a bar of soap, a cashier guides you through the process. They scan or punch your purchases into a computer, then take your money and complete the transaction.

Cashiering jobs are a great way to earn money if you have little job experience but enjoy working with people. If this career sounds interesting to you, check out this overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Cashiers are usually assigned to one cash register at the beginning of their shifts and are responsible for that register until their shift ends. They enter the prices of the merchandise, subtract any sales or coupons, total the bill and accept payment. In addition, they must be knowledgeable about store policies and procedures.

In some establishments, cashiers perform other duties. In supermarkets, cashiers often weigh produce and return unwanted items to the shelves. In convenience stores, they must know how to use other machines, such as soda and lottery ticket machines.

Training and Education
Cashier jobs are usually entry-level positions that require little or no experience. Employers often prefer candidates with high school diplomas, and nearly all cashiers are trained on the job.

Too succeed in the occupation, cashiers must be able to do repetitious work accurately, have basic mathematics skills and good manual dexterity. They should also maintain a neat appearance and have a pleasant disposition.

About half of cashiers work part-time, and hours vary depending on the employer's needs. Cashiers hold jobs in grocery, department and general merchandise stores, as well as gasoline stations and health and personal care stores.

Pros and Cons
Cashier jobs require little or no work experience and offer flexible hours. Those working in retail establishments often receive discounts on purchases, and cashiers in restaurants may receive free or reduced-price meals.

Advancement opportunities may include a full-time position for part-time workers, or a promotion to head cashier or cash-office clerk.

However, cashiers are often unable to leave their workstations because they are responsible for large amounts of money (and cash register shortages may be grounds for dismissal). The work can be very repetitious, and even dangerous; cashiers' risk of workplace homicide is much higher than that of the total workforce.

In addition, many employers restrict the use of vacation time during the holidays.

Median hourly earnings of cashiers, except gaming, in 2002 were $7.41, according to the BLS. Many cashiers start at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour.

Job Outlook
There is substantial turnover in cashier jobs, due to the minimal education and training requirements. In 2002, half of all cashiers were younger than age 25, and many saw the occupation as a short-term source of income rather than as a career.

Cashier employment is expected to grow at about the average rate of all occupations through the year 2012. The rising popularity of electronic commerce may reduce the need for some cashiers.

Source: BLS October 2004

Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM

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