Bank tellers are the front-line customer service employees in credit unions and banks. They provide basic banking services and complete routine financial transactions for account holders and the public, including processing deposits and withdrawals, cashing checks, exchanging money, accepting loan payments and providing account-related information.

Tellers are responsible for accurately handling cash and checks throughout the work day, carefully examining financial documents, verifying numerical amounts and properly recording all transactions in bank information systems. Tellers must also be able to explain the financial products available to customers through the bank, such as loans, lines of credit, certificates of deposit (CDs) and retirement accounts, before referring interested customers to other bank employees who handle those products.

Key Takeaways

  • Bank tellers are typically entry-level positions at banks that directly interact with and service customers.
  • Most employers require at least a high school diploma, but advancement will often require a bachelors degree.
  • Teller is usually the first in a career path that can soon lead to loan officer or personal banker for those who show promise.

Career Path

The teller position in a bank is generally an entry-level position open to high school graduates. Most successful job applicants have records of high performance in other jobs that include substantial customer service components. New tellers are not generally required to have special training or prior experience working in banks; they generally receive a month or more of on-the-job training. With enough experience and an excellent work record, tellers can eventually become head tellers. Head tellers supervise and assist tellers during the workday and handle general managerial tasks.

Tellers who obtain bachelor's degrees in finance, business, economics or another relevant subject can move into other positions in the bank. A personal banker sells financial products and services to bank customers. A loan officer evaluates loan applications from bank customers and makes recommendations to bank management. It is possible to rise into a managerial position with the bank. Many bank managers have master's degrees in finance or business administration, but this is not generally an absolute requirement.

Educational Qualifications

A high school diploma is the basic qualification for a bank teller position. Tellers who complete bachelor's degrees, for example, are typically eligible for more advanced positions, such as personal bankers, personal financial advisors or loan officers. According to a 2014 national job survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 83% of bank tellers in the U.S. have not earned educational qualifications beyond the high school level. About 11% of bank tellers have completed certificate programs at vocational schools or colleges.

While there are no widely accepted professional designations available for bank tellers as of 2015, the American Bankers Association (ABA) offers an educational program that culminates in the ABA Bank Teller Certificate. Few, if any, banks require this certificate for employment, but it may provide a leg up in the job market for those who have no prior experience in the industry. This certificate program includes eight short courses that can be completed in about 21 hours.

Other Qualifications and Skills

Most bank teller positions require candidates to show substantial prior work experience in customer service positions. Aside from strong math skills and exceptional attention to detail, strong customer service skills are critical to excelling as a bank teller. Tellers may serve many dozens of customers every day, each with important needs and expectations. They must be able to make good decisions under pressure in a fast-paced retail environment. Capable tellers have excellent active listening skills, effective verbal communication skills and the ability to satisfy customers while adhering to all bank procedures and standards. Highly efficient and accurate performance is a basic expectation of the job.

While on-the-job training is generally provided to all new hires, most banks look for job candidates with prior work experience that involves handling money on a regular basis. Good computer skills are also important. In most banks, tellers access account information using computer terminals and may be required to use accounting software, spreadsheet software and other software technology in the regular course of their daily work.