Blog > Careers

No Degree Job Spotlight: Bank Teller

No Degree Job Spotlight: Bank Teller

More and more employers are understanding that a college degree doesn't guarantee skills.  With more than 10 million jobs available to college dropouts and applicants with alternative non-degree-qualifications, it has never been easier to find employment without a college degree.

If you don't have a degree, but are looking for work in the field of financial services and customer service then this blog post is for you!  

Bank tellers (also known as "tellers") help customers complete transactions at banks by explaining how money can be deposited or withdrawn from their accounts, accepting deposits and cashing checks. The primary responsibility of bank tellers is making sure that customers get what they want while also following company policies and procedures set down by management. 

Let’s see what’s involved in this very customer-facing position in a bank. We’ll examine:  

  • The responsibilities of a bank teller 
  • How to become a bank teller 
  • The compensation of a bank teller 
  • Opportunities for advancement from a bank teller position 
  • Pros and Cons 
  • Objective forecast 

Responsibilities 

  • Bank tellers have always been the most customer facing position within a bank. They assist customers with depositing cash, checks, and other monetary instruments. 
  • They assist in transferring money from one account to another via wire transfer or other electronic method. 
  • Draft and prepare cashier’s checks 
  • Withdraw funds for customers 
  • Maintain cash receipts drawer that must be reconciled at the end of each day  
  • Process payments towards credit cards and loan agreements. 

Customers can range from regular individuals with a simple checking and savings account to multimillion dollar companies that have large business accounts. All types of people visit tellers on a regular basis. 

How to Become a Bank Teller and Important Qualities 

Becoming a bank teller isn’t as hard as some might believe. A simple high school diploma or a GED is sufficient to start as an entry level bank teller. You can also get started by taking an online course or class at your local community college, through evening classes at the nearest four-year university, or by obtaining certification from a trade school such as American Bankers Association (ABA).  

You will not need a college degree or heavy financial background to obtain this position. Many bank tellers are fresh out of high school or maintain this position as they progress through college. 

The most important quality to become a successful bank teller is the ability to interact with customers. As mentioned above, you will interact with a large and diverse number of clients and customers-some rich, poor, entitled, snobby, kind, generous, etc. You’ll have to maintain a level of professionalism no matter who you are interacting with. If a customer comes in on a Monday screaming because they were charged a $30 NSF fee (non-sufficient funds) for not having enough money to cover their rent check after a long weekend of partying, how would you handle this? 

Although it certainly helps to have a basic understanding of how a bank account works and certain banking terms such as “deposit” and withdrawals”, it is not a necessity. All of this will be taught to you during your training to become a teller. You are normally trained by the head teller or a more experienced teller at the very least. 

Other more qualities to become a successful bank teller include: 

  • Ability to use a computer - Anyone that has grown up using a computer for school or work already possesses this ability.  We aren’t talking about advanced programming or anything technical. Simply understanding how to maneuver a computer and learn the specialized software used by the banks is as technical as it gets. 
  • Basic math skills - A customer wants to make a $200 cash deposit into his checking account and hands you 2 $50 dollar bills and 5 $20 bills, has the customer given you enough money to make the $200 dollar deposit? If you answered yes, congratulations, you have the math skills necessary to become a bank teller. 

Sarcasm aside, most transactions that require thousands of dollars to be counted will utilize a money counter. If a customer wants to make a $30,000 deposit and handles you bundles 1 dollar bills you will not be expected to count all the funds by hand. 

  • Attention to detail - Fraud has become much more prevalent in the digital age. It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a counterfeit bill and a real one. It is important to pay attention to small details when dealing with each customer. 
  • Integrity - This is another key quality. If you lack this quality as a bank teller, you run the risk of being fired or going to jail. Bank tellers work with money all day. And in certain circumstances, have access to the bank vault. They also have access to privileged account information. It is not uncommon for a teller that's facing personal financial hardship to succumb to the pressure and begin having thoughts of stealing money from the bank or other types of fraud. Of course, that will get you a free pass to jail. Banks have very thorough investigative teams and many controls in place to catch any employee who might me embezzling money. Integrity goes a long with any job in a bank/financial institution. 
  • Documentation - BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) requires certain transactions to be documented. For example: If a customer comes in with fraudulent checks to be deposited or cash from an illicit or illegal source, the teller must make note of this and document it. 

Compensation

 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)
Percentile  10%  25%

50% 

(Median) 

75% 

90% 
Hourly Wage   $11.86  $13.50  $15.68  $18.17  $19.82
Annual Wage (2)   $24,660  $28,080  $32,620  $37,780  $41,220

It is no surprise that the bigger cities have more available teller jobs due to the high concentration of banks in those cities: 

 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)

Metropolitan area 

Employment 

(1) 

Employment per thousand jobs 

Hourly mean wage 

Annual mean wage 

(2) 

New York-Newark-Jersey City, 

NY-NJ-PA 

23,970 

2.71 

$ 17.19 

$ 35,750 

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 

13,560 

2.33 

$ 16.97 

$ 35,300 

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, 

IL-IN-WI 

12,040 

2.76 

$ 16.84 

$ 35,020 

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 

8,360 

2.81 

$ 15.03 

$ 31,260 

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilming ton, PA-NJ-DE-MD 

8,280 

3.07 

$ 16.28 

$ 33,870 

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 

TX 

8,180 

2.28 

$ 16.32 

$ 33,950 

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West 

Palm Beach, FL 

7,530 

3.00 

$ 16.34 

$ 34,000 

Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, 

MA-NH 

7,520 

2.89 

$ 17.42 

$ 36,230 

San 

Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, 

CA 

6,940 

2.98 

$ 17.90 

$ 37,230 

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 

6,040 

2.29 

$ 16.04 

$ 33,350 

Advancement 

 The barrier of entry to become a bank teller is very low. Pretty much anyone can become a bank teller if they really want to pursue this career. However, you will want to advance at some point and banks like Chase and Bank of America have huge operations with various divisions to work in. As a teller it’s natural to progress to “Head teller”. Head tellers have more privileges and supervise the other tellers. They tend to have vault access and interact with upper management. They make sure reconciliations are done periodically. 

Tellers can also transition to personal bankers. These positions are more akin to sales jobs. You will get a salary but can also be paid for each client you sign up to open a new account at the bank. The more money and accounts you bring into the bank the better you will be compensated. This can pay very well if you possess the soft skills required to communicate with anyone. 

As mentioned above, BSA requires documentation and procedures to help prevent fraud. IF you enjoy the fine detail aspect of the job and trying to solve and prevent fraud, you can work as an analyst in the corporate division. However, these positions do require a college degree. So, you could work as Teller while obtaining a degree and then transition into a forensic/investigative role later. 

  • Pros 

Bank Teller jobs have a very low barrier of entry. There are banks all over and the job does not require higher education. This is very good if you really need to find a job, even if its temporary. Banks are constantly hiring due to college students leaving once they graduate, and people find other jobs. 

Becoming a bank teller will also prepare you in ways that most jobs won’t. You will certainly learn how to interact with customers and clients of many different backgrounds and cultures. 

You will also learn the technical aspects of how a bank runs and important financial terms. Believe it to not a lot of people today don’t even really understand how checks work or what debits and credits to a bank account encompass. 

  • Cons 

Unfortunately, bank tellers are a diminishing field. This is mostly due to technology and the digital age. Most transactions that tellers are used for can be conducted online without having to walk into a bank and deal with a bank teller. 

Also, there are not many opportunities for overtime. Banks tend to have very strict business hours and employees don’t really work after-hours unless it is reconciling the receipts for the day. 

Forecast 

Although bank teller jobs will decrease because of technological advancements, the occupation isn’t going away completely. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of teller jobs should decrease by about 15 percent. But tellers will still have to handle complex customer service tasks. 

Conclusion

Overall, this can be a great job for someone that wants an introduction into the banking or financial industry. Many people have lost their jobs due to covid and need money just to keep their heads above water. A bank teller can be that job, even if it’s just temporary. It is very important to understand that a job/career doesn’t have to be permeant and lifelong for it to be worthwhile. The knowledge and experienced gain from jobs such as bank tellers can build character and skills that can carry forward into many other positions and industries.

***

Photo by dcdebs via Canva

Interested in learning more about the job market and opportunities for non-degree holders? We've got you covered! Check out more of our blogs that answer your most urgent questions.

How to Answer the 11 Most Common Interview Questions?

How to Write a Resume Without A College Degree?

How to Network on LinkedIn? (With or Without a Degree)