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How to Become a Checkout Operator

Checkout operators, or cashiers, operate tills at sales points in most large stores, recording and receiving payment for goods being purchased.

They pass items over an electronic bar code reader, or key in prices manually. The till usually totals prices, and may calculate change. Operators take cash, cheque and credit card payments and are responsible for processing loyalty cards and any discount or credit vouchers.

Operators may weigh items such as fruit and vegetables and pack goods into bags. In some stores they may change till rolls and balance the till. They are responsible for keeping their work area tidy and stocked with change, till rolls, carrier bags and other items.

They may have other duties within the store, such as putting out stock or working in the customer service area. In large stores and supermarkets there is likely to be a separate role of shelf filler.

In some stores, such as department stores or independent retailers, the work of a checkout operator may be combined with sales assistant duties (see Sales Assistant profile).

What's the working environment like working as a checkout operator?

A full-time cashier usually works 37 or 38 hours a week, which includes some weekends. Stores can be open from 8am until 10pm, and some are now open 24 hours, so shift work may be required. There are often part-time opportunities. Overtime may also be possible.

A great deal of time is spent sitting down. Most stores provide a uniform.

What does it take to become a checkout operator?

To be a checkout operator you should:

  • Have good customer service skills
  • Have a polite and friendly personality and the ability to deal tactfully with difficult customers
  • Have good spoken communication skills
  • Be honest - you will handle a great deal of cash
  • Have good numeracy skills
  • Have a smart tidy appearance
  • Have stamina

Checkout operator career opportunities

The retail industry employs over three million people in the UK. The majority of checkout operators work in large multiples, such as well-known food supermarkets and DIY stores. These are often situated in out-of-town locations, so transport may be needed.

Many stores encourage staff development and it may be possible to move into a supervisory post and from there into a management position. Larger companies offer the best opportunities for career development.

Browse retail courses

Last updated: 18 Feb 2020

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