What is a Bank Teller?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A bank teller is a member of the staff of a bank who deals directly with the public and handles routine banking transactions like deposits, withdrawals, and so forth. For many people, bank tellers are iconic figures, since they represent the face of the bank to the public. Employment in this profession is actually shrinking, because some people have turned to Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and online banking since they find these services more convenient.

A bank teller may deposit and cash checks.
A bank teller may deposit and cash checks.

The job requirements for becoming a bank teller are fairly minimal. He or she must have a high school diploma and exhibit an ability to perform basic math functions. Bank tellers must also be comfortable with members of the public and with handling large amounts of money. They are also expected to be extremely attentive and discreet, and in some regions a bank teller may need to pass a law enforcement background check before he or she can be hired.

A bank teller must be comfortable with handling large amounts of money on a daily basis.
A bank teller must be comfortable with handling large amounts of money on a daily basis.

In a workday, a bank teller might accept cash or checks for deposit, cash checks drawn on his or her bank, issue funds like money orders and traveler's checks, and handle transactions related to savings accounts. A bank teller also usually promotes services offered by the bank, such as loans, retirement accounts, and insurance; if a customer expresses interest in these services, the teller refers him or her to another bank employee who specializes in these offerings. A bank teller might also provide access to safe deposit boxes, if a bank offers this service.

Some tellers serve customers who never leave their cars.
Some tellers serve customers who never leave their cars.

Classically, the tellers at a bank are managed by a single head teller who usually walks the bank floor to ensure that customer transactions are running smoothly. Each teller has a window or booth, and typically tellers are assigned their own cash drawers which no other teller handles. This ensures that each teller can manage his or her transactions for the day, and at the end of the day, each teller counts out the drawer to ensure that it matches the transaction records.

Bank tellers can provide customers access to safe deposit boxes to store valuable possessions.
Bank tellers can provide customers access to safe deposit boxes to store valuable possessions.

This position usually does not offer very many opportunities for advancement within the bank. In order to become a banker, loan officer, or other higher ranking member of the staff, a bank teller would need to receive additional training. Some tellers choose to pursue careers with their banks of choice, while others view the position as temporary. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, turnover in this field is relatively high in comparison with other fields in the banking sector.

Bank tellers typically must count deposits and withdrawals.
Bank tellers typically must count deposits and withdrawals.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I worked as a bank teller for a major bank for about two years. I enjoyed my job, but have not been able to make myself go back after we were robbed.

This was an armed robbery where the man came in the bank, jumped over the teller window and pointed the gun at me.

There happened to be a customer in the drive-through who saw what was going on and called the police.

The robbers ended up getting away with some money and the bank shut down the rest of the day. I went back to work for a few weeks after that, but was jumpy and apprehensive, so found another job.


My daughter worked as a bank teller, but she didn't stay there very long. She is very intelligent, but is dyslexic and easily transposes numbers.

She found out there were too many bank teller duties that were hard for her to consistently do well with because of this problem.

She was great dealing with the customers and was very friendly, but was always worried she would mess up and get her numbers wrong.

Fortunately she never made any huge mistakes, but ended up getting a different job after a few months. The first few days she went through her bank teller training, she realized she would probably struggle with this every day.


I have always been surprised by the low bank teller salary paid to most tellers. Even though no formal education beyond high school is required, they have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

I worked part time at a bank in the investment department and made quite a bit more money than the full time tellers were making.

There were also very strict rules when it came to balancing their drawer at the end of the day. If they were off more than three times, they were terminated from their job.

I don't know what the standards are for most banks, but this might be why there are always bank teller positions open when you are looking through the job classifieds.


I had a couple different bank teller jobs when I was going to college. Most of my classes were in the morning, so this left my afternoons free to work.

One of the biggest reasons I liked working as a bank teller was I didn't have to work evenings and only a couple Saturday morning's a month.

I am still employed by the bank I was working at when I graduated. Since I had a few years of bank teller experience, I was then able to move up to different positions within the bank.

Working as a teller gave me the training and basic understanding I needed. At the time, I never realized some of the bank teller responsibilities I had would be so beneficial for other positions within the bank.


summarize the employees strengths and potentials for growth.


what are the education qualifications?

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