What's it really like?
Samantha Hickey is an 18-year-old cashier. She earns the minimum wage.
I have been working as a cashier for a little over two years. I currently work for a large brand of stationery retail stores in the UK. This is the first proper employment I have taken. Before this job I was in school and since finishing my GCSEs I have been a cashier.
In our shop a typical day’s work is from 9am until 5pm and we’re open seven days per week. On a normal day I’ll spend most of my time behind the till serving customers. Often I’ll have to offer advice on what people need because some of our stock is rather specialised, for example printer inks.
If we are having a quiet day then I may spend some time helping to re-stock our shelves or helping with day-to-day tasks. Retail work often means working together to look after the store and not just doing one job.
Working as a cashier is quite a simple job, but it can get hectic if you have a lot of customers in one day. It’s very important if you want to work as a cashier, or in retail generally, that you’re happy working with the public, making conversation and helping them with any queries.
One of the best bits about my job is the hours. We’re paid by the hour and not on salary, but if you want more hours to work then they’re very easy to get, especially in the summer time. And even if you work full-time you’ll rarely have to work outside normal shop hours – unless there’s a new load of stock or the whole shop needs to be re-organised.
Staff get good discounts too! Retail shops tend to sell the day-to-day items you need, so I never run out of stationery or household bits and pieces. I started doing this work part-time at the weekends during college, so I always had a little bit of money and my college supplies.
Working as a cashier is an entry job into retail, but from there you can move up the chain. A lot of people will become a supervisor, then assistant manager and eventually a manager. If you’re really talented after that you can become an area manager.
There aren’t many requirements for a job as a cashier, but good qualities would include being comfortable with numbers, though most electronic tills do the maths for you now, and a keen eye for presentation so you can help make sure the store looks its best.
If I had to give advice to someone looking to work as a cashier I would say the most important things are to be well presented and have a good attitude. Managers are looking for people whom customers are going to like and find easy to get along with, so it’s important to look your best and always have a smile on your face.
Working as a cashier in retail means putting sales through the tills and often helping with customer enquiries.
Working as a cashier means that most of your time will be spent operating the tills and putting sales through for customers. Cashiers are needed in almost every kind of shop, whether it is a supermarket, music shop or book-makers.
The most basic cashier’s role will involve being behind a till for a whole shift, but in smaller stores it may involve helping customers or supporting the rest of the team to keep a shop presentable, well stocked and always ready for business.
A cashier’s two main responsibilities are making sure that they are operating the tills correctly (because if the money does not add up at the end of shift that can cause problems) and to have a good knowledge of the products they are selling, store policies and how best to help customers.
Being a cashier is a good entry-level job for retail work. Often no previous experience is required, training is provided and it is a good place for learning about retail or gaining experience to move up the ladder at an organisation.
Cashiers will tend to earn the minimum wage for their age group, or just above. Supervisors will earn a little more for their extra responsibilities, probably between £6 and £7 per hour.
If you rise to a management role you can expect to earn a salary of between £12,000 and £18,000 for a small store, rising above £20,000 or £30,000 per year for a large store like a supermarket.
From October 1st 2010 the minimum wage will be as follows:
- £5.93 – The rate for workers aged 21 and over
- £4.92 – The rate for those aged 18-20
- £3.64 – The rate for those aged 16-17
Working as a cashier has a limited number of responsibilities, including:
- Customer service
- Operating tills
- Making sales
- Filling up stock
- Making sure the shop is presentable
For working as a cashier there are no specific qualifications. However, for some jobs a Math GCSE or equivalent may be helpful, as would any previous experience in a sales environment.
The best qualifications you can have are a friendly and helpful attitude for dealing with customers and being well presented. This means dressing appropriately and being well groomed.
- Customer service
- Communication skills
- Well presented
- Comfortable working with numbers
- Working well in a team
Cashiers will be expected to be available for whatever hours a shop is open. This might mean starting at 6am, or finishing at 12pm (some shops are even open 24 hours), but normally it will mean working between 9am and 5pm. Most retail shops are now open seven days per week.
Cashiers' work means being indoors in a warm environment and probably getting the minimum breaks required by law.
The work can be a little monotonous, or occasionally stressful, especially if the shop is busy but you will always be kept occupied and should not be very pressured. Occasionally cashiers may be asked to help with other jobs, or work over-time if other staff can not work. It is very much a supporting role for the rest of the team.
Work may not be suitable for those with back problems as it can often involve lifting supplies and a lot of time standing or walking the store.
The job may mean occasionally dealing with customer complaints, or calming down an angry customer to the best of your ability. However, these incidents are rare and if need be they can be passed to the supervisor or manager.
It is a good environment, working with a team who will provide support when you need it. Most cashiers normally work good hours too.
For a lot of cashier jobs no experience is necessary. Most companies will provide on the job training for new staff and always have a supervisor nearby to help. Good experience that may help to get a first job is anything working with the public, previous retail experience and being able to do basic maths.
The biggest employers for cashier jobs will be any high-street chains, supermarkets or cafes, bars and book makers (if you’re over 18).
Good examples of this include supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, or Primark and Topshop. If you can think of a place where you pay by cash or card they may need a cashier. There are always opportunities for this kind of work.
In fact because of the number of stores around the UK, supermarkets are some of the largest employers in the UK. So a little retail experience could mean that you will never be short of work and will provide a chance to work your way up in a new organisation.
Always remember that the bigger the employer the more chance you have of getting more hours and the opportunity to try out other jobs in the organisation.
Working as a cashier means that you are in a great position to start working your way up the retail ladder. For those who want to move up opportunities often present themselves, but experience is the most important part of this. The first step for a lot people is to become a supervisor; you may even be able to do this after a couple of months if you get to grips with your work very quickly.
A supervisor’s job will mean making sure that they are on hand to answer any questions the other staff might have, so you will need to know the other jobs in a lot of detail, which is why experience is essential. It might also include cashing up the tills at the end of the day – that can mean handling a lot of money, so it is a jump in responsibility.
Depending on what kind of shop you work in the next step may be different; in a big supermarket you might manage a small department with a few staff and you would have to manage a few before moving upwards so you have the experience. In a smaller shop you might jump straight to assistant manager, where you will have extra responsibilities to do with money, checking the stock and generally supporting the manager.