Best Cities for Bank Tellers

Best Cities for Bank Tellers

If you Google image search the words bank teller, almost all of the results depict a plain countertop and teeth-revealing grin shining a few feet above it.

Tellers smile for a variety of reasons, but perhaps most of all, they smile because the ATMs can’t. The cash machine, which first showed up in 1969 (in a wall outside of a Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York) was supposed to have made the teller obsolete by now. (Where it failed, the robot may eventually succeed, as Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ will begin “employing” a humanoid robot at branches this year.)

“People that come in regularly appreciate the fact that there’s someone that can do more than just process their transactions,” said Kevin Assie, who has been a teller for the five-employee Cardinal Bank in greater Washington, D.C., for two months but estimated that he already recognized 85 percent of customers as soon as they walk in the building. “Tellers also have to meet sales goals and be very knowledgeable about a wide array of products.”

“I look for sales opportunities as they come up to fit customer's needs and wants,” said Bryan Killingsworth, who estimated that at least a third of his customers know him by name after his first 10 months at the eight-employee Bank of Marin in Northern California. “A teller is there to be a face to talk to about anything you need, and have guidance for you.”

Time to return the favor. ValuePenguin reviewed data from 395 cities and towns to give tellers, both present and future, a better of idea of where it’s better to work and live.

Best Five Cities for Tellers

The 514,520 tellers employed in the U.S. in 2014 earned $26,650 on average, or an hourly wage of $12.81, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tellers’ cost of living and location quotient are also highly dependent on where they work. These are the three important metrics that ValuePenguin used to determine what U.S. cities are the best places for these specialized professionals to call home (more on our methodology below).

1. Olympia, WA

Washington state’s capital comes in at No. 1, in part, because its employed tellers earn the highest annual average salary in the country ($33,750). This helped Olympia, which is located sixty miles south of Seattle, overcome the highest cost of living among our top five; it’s 14 percent more expensive to live here than a given American city. During one recent search on job website Indeed, we noticed that Bank of America, Well Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, among others, were hiring part- and full-time tellers in or near the city. This already-hired Olympia teller probably has good job security.

2. Waterbury, CT

Connecticut’s “Brass City” checks in second on our list. Many of its approximate 410 tellers work at Webster Bank’s headquarters. The city is also known for its appropriately-named Bank Street historic district. With three regional college campuses within Waterbury, there is also sure to be a flow of young finance and accounting majors looking for entry-level work; they’re in the right place.

3. Longview, WA

Longview, an hour’s drive south of Olympia and closer to the Oregon border, made the top five despite having the fewest amount of teller positions (220). The city does have the state’s sixth-highest salary ($31,840) for the job, plus the same cost of living of the average American city. Bank of America, Chase and US Bank are among the national banks with significant presences here.

4. Miami, FL

Miami, paired here with nearby Miami Beach and Kendall in terms of its data collection, has by far the most positions (5,560) among these top five cities. Chicago (13,060), Los Angeles (13,270) and New York (19,120) have even more employment, but tellers represent a smaller percentage of the overall workforce in those similarly big cities, meaning that there is less demand for their expertise. Miami, which is one of seven Florida cities to crack the overall top 15, is the home of U.S. Century Bank. Brickell, the city’s financial district, also boasts the country’s largest concentration of international banks.

5. Pensacola, FL

Two cities in the same state can’t be further away than the 675 miles that separate Miami from Pensacola, but they’re much closer in their favorability for tellers. The latter, westernmost city in the state takes the final spot on our national list because it ranked first in location quotient, so demand for tellers may be higher here than anywhere else. Pensacola’s First National Bank Building, constructed at the turn of the 20th century, is no longer used for private commerce, but it’s a sign of the city’s banking strength.

Top 30 Cities for Bank Tellers

Rank

CityAverage SalaryJobsLocation QuotientCost of Living

1

Olympia, WA$33,7505601.50114

2

Waterbury, CT$30,0204101.70107

3

Longview, WA$31,8402201.71100

4

Miami, FL$29,8005,5601.39112

5

Pensacola, FL$27,6001,3702.3091

6

Barnstable Town, MA$31,6905101.36161

7

Naples, FL$27,9708901.88161

8

Jacksonville, FL$30,0502,9101.2788

9

Panama City, FL$27,7304901.7998

10

Crestview, FL$27,1505501.90101

11

Lynchburg, VA$28,6404901.3190

12

Flint, MI$28,2006701.3176

13

Greenville, NC$27,6704301.4692

14

North Port, FL$27,6701,3301.3592

15

Ocean City, NJ$27,6902401.66166

16

Leominster, MA$29,0302401.33114

17

New Bedford, MA$31,3703001.20116

18

Winston-Salem, NA$29,1809501.1990

19

Vallejo, CA$27,7306201.36111

20

Lawrence, MA$29,7502901.24125

21

Reading, PA$28,1908001.2582

22

Bellingham, WA$27,4504501.47123

23

Spokane, WA$28,9909301.2091

24

Anchorage, AK$30,4207801.16135

25

Wilmington, DE$27,2801,7401.36102

26

Lewiston, ID$27,1601701.90100

27

Sebastian, FL$27,4302701.5295

28

Worcester, MA$30,3401,0701.13115

29

Kingsport, TN$26,7006701.5389

30

Yakima, WA$28,0804001.2993

On Topic: Getting the Job

Assie of Cardinal Bank, which has 700 employees and $3.5 billion in assets across its branches in three states, applied to become a teller after struggling to find an entry-level financial analyst position.

“I got started after suggestion from my parents,” he said. “I had just graduated and had trouble finding a job in my field due to my lack of professional experience and internships.

“There was a standard application process of submitting my resume then a quick phone interview. I was then sent a link to a teller test online where they had a few scenarios and asked me how I would deal with them. They also had a simulated drawer.”

Like Assie, Killingsworth had experience in retail sales before becoming a teller.“I sold clothes to a manager of Wells Fargo, and then coincidentally was interviewing with the same manager and the sales I made helped me get the job,” he said. “The application process was pretty straightforward. Applied online, submitting a resume and references as well. I also brought a hard copy of those same materials to the interview.“The math test was not overly complicated, but enough to be able to show you can do calculations without necessarily needing a calculator.”

On-the-Job Training

Unlike for many professions, there is no college degree necessary for tellers, as on-the-job training is exhaustive. Employers do look out for “cash-handling experience” as well as the ability to speak multiple languages. (Recently, Capital One in Brooklyn, New York, was hiring two tellers: one who speaks English and Russian or Spanish, and one who speaks English and Chinese or Mandarin.

“Training was tedious, and it wasn’t hard,” Assie said. “There was a week-long intensive class on how to use the banking program. The following six weeks were spent in the branch, hands-on training. I have worked with an experienced teller that shared a lot more insiders to make the job easier. Even though training is complete, I continue to learn every day.”

Killingsworth had similar experience on the west coast.“The training was rigorous but worth it,” he said. “There is a lot to learn, and the two weeks of training I got were all needed to cover everything and get the needed exposure. It really prepares you for what you have to do every day.”

Path to Promotion

A bank teller can move on to become a head or lead teller or a teller supervisor.

Fresh out of school, Assie said he is unsure of his long-term plans but is considering continuing his education. Many banks offer to sponsor their employees’ graduate school tuition reimbursement. (Bank of America, for example, offers “up to $5,250 for job-related courses or to fulfill a job-related degree program.” )

Killingsworth, now a veteran of two banks but still in his 20s, has a goal in mind.

“Currently, my dream is getting into a manager position, starting with assistant branch manager, then hopefully leading into managing of operations for the bank,” he said. “I like being very involved with how the branches are running and that things are being done correctly.

“My path has been putting in my full time, as a teller and banker, to make sure I have as much knowledge as I can about the bank, and how my manager do what they do. I try to learn as much as I can, working with other people outside of my branch as well to enhance my skills.”

Day-to-Day Routine

Assie begins his days opening the vaults and settling the cash drawer, then waits for patrons to tend to their needs.

Killingsworth’s routine can vary.

“Primarily, I help out customers who come in for anything from deposits to closing accounts,” he said. “I also assist my managers with reports, a task that keep the operations running smoothly each day.

“The rigors of my job are hard to describe, because they change on a daily basis. Some days it is just grinding out lots of transactions on the teller line. Other days it is going over lots of reports, to ensure compliance and operation. Other days, it is calling a lot of customer's with issues of card and account usage.

“Technology has made it so that we do have less customers daily and monthly. We get more calls about things that are happening than people coming in because you can do a lot of bank business from even your cell phone nowadays. People know that.”

Pitfalls in the Profession

Humans aren’t, in fact, machines, and one of the worst possible scenarios is having an out-of-balance cashier drawer.

“Misplacing money is a big deal,” Assie said. “You get reprimanded by your supervisor and might be in danger of losing your job. It negatively affects the branch and the company loses money. A few coins here and there is expected – people aren’t robots. But I’ve seen people miscount and give away $20.”

One bank teller’s error earlier this spring deposited $30,000 into the wrong man’s account,and there are many examples, like this one in April of nefarious tellers trying to make their own withdrawals.

Methodology

These were the three key questions we asked in coming up with the list.

1. What can bank tellers earn in the city?

We ranked the best cities for bank tellers based on the median annual pay. Income is likely the most important factor people consider when starting their career or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.

2. How affordable is it to live in this city?

Now that we have the median salary, we’ll look next at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. For example, the average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 165, such as Crestview, Fl., would mean that generally speaking, living expenses are 65 percent more expensive compared to the average city.

3. What is the location quotient for bank tellers in the city?

A place with a high median salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our third factor accounts for this by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of bank tellers in an area as a percentage of all occupations, and then compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a bank tellers’ services.

Ting is a ValuePenguin Co-Founder. She previously evaluated corporate mergers and acquisitions as a Financial Analyst at Citigroup.