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What is a Cashier Clerk?

Dana Hinders
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A cashier's job description includes totaling the cost of merchandise purchased, taking payment for the items, making change, and giving receipts. If applicable, cashiers must also be able to calculate the value of coupons, sales, and special promotions in relation to the customer's total bill. For establishments that sell alcohol or cigarettes, a cashier clerk must remember to request identification in order to comply with laws that prohibit the sale of these items to underage persons. Depending upon the establishment, cashier clerks may be required to assist with tasks such as completing inventory, returning unwanted merchandise to shelves, or counting money at the end of a shift.

At one point, it was common for cashiers to use a pen and paper or an adding machine to do their jobs. Today, computerized bar codes and scanners make it much quicker to total a customer's order. Unfortunately, this does not mean the cashier's job description has gotten easier. Cashiers must be able to troubleshoot common technical errors with their equipment, memorize codes to perform certain operations within the system, and have a general idea of whether or not the scanned price for an item is actually the correct amount.

Cashier clerk jobs are available in a wide variety of establishments. Fast food restaurants are large employers of cashier clerks, as are discount stores, movie theaters, and gas stations. The working environment in these establishments can be very fast-paced, however. For a less stressful job opportunity, you may want to seek out cashier clerk jobs at specialty boutiques or smaller family-owned businesses.

While cashier clerk jobs are generally plentiful and many places will hire people with no previous experience, these jobs tend to be part-time and rather low paying. However, cashier careers can often lead to better opportunities. Many companies try to promote qualified cashiers to positions as supervisors or store managers. The customer service skills and strong work ethic one needs to be successful as a cashier clerk will translate well to a variety of other job opportunities.

Many people have concerns that stores implementing self checkout lanes are reducing available job opportunities for people who wish to be a cashier clerk. However, it should be noted that most stores must still employ people to maintain the self checkout lanes and provide assistance to customers who are having difficulty working the scanning equipment. Also, as long as the elderly, disabled, and shoppers with small children prefer to have someone else check out their merchandise, cashier positions are unlikely to ever completely disappear.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the Practical Adult Insights team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.
Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Aug 13, 2012

@wavy58 – Starting out in a store with only a handful of customers at a time sure would have been nice for me. My first job was running the cash register at a fast food restaurant, and during certain times of the day, we were slammed!

Trying to learn how to operate the machine and dealing with impatient people all at once was too stressful. When you have long lines of people on their lunch break rushing you so that they can get back to work on time, the pressure is intense.

I wound up switching to a job in the back of the restaurant. Being a cashier clerk was not for me!

By orangey03 — On Aug 13, 2012

The lady who does the payroll clerk job at the newspaper where I work also has some cashier clerk duties. Doing payroll for only about thirty employees doesn't take all week, so when she isn't busy with that, she goes up front and works the cash register.

People are always coming in to buy ads, and they are expected to pay for them before they run. Many times, people will just call in and say what they want in their ads over the phone, and the clerk will take their credit card numbers.

By JackWhack — On Aug 12, 2012

My friend graduated from college last year with a degree in accounting. She was having trouble finding employment, and since she couldn't find any jobs in accounting, she decided to become a cashier clerk at a clothing store in the mall.

She had always had a way with people, and her personality was part of the reason that she got hired. She started out just ringing up purchases, but before long, she got promoted to sales. She would help customers pick out clothes and accessories, and she would suggest other items that they might like.

Within a year, she had progressed to assistant manager. She just had a knack for sales, and I think she enjoys this more than she would have enjoyed a job in accounting.

By wavy58 — On Aug 11, 2012

When I was looking in the classifieds every day for a job, I noticed that there were several cashier clerk job openings. I didn't apply, because I don't like dealing with the public. However, I did pass the ad onto my niece, who was looking for a part-time summer job.

She landed a job as a cashier clerk at a local grocery store, and this was her first job ever. Another cashier trained her, and she got the hang of things in no time.

I think that this small store was a good starting place for her. They never had a throng of customers at any one time, so she got to learn at a slow pace.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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