August 17, 2007
UMB, Heartland, Commerce among institutions seeking candidates to ease national shortage.
It seems simple: Banks are opening more branches, so they're hiring more tellers.
In the St. Louis region alone, there were 872 bank branches as of June 2006, according to the most recent FDIC report. And many have been added since then.
But there's a problem. Across the country, financial institutions are having trouble finding qualified tellers. Though most require only a high school diploma or GED, some say job candidates without college degrees don't have the math skills needed for the job, which is becoming increasingly technical.
Those skills -- along with good customer service skills -- are vital for tellers, who make up 28 percent of bank employees and conduct almost all of a bank's routine transactions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, tellers play a marketing role; they are often a bank's primary way to win new customers and sell services to existing ones.
Turnover is high among tellers, partly because of the relatively low pay -- tellers' median salary in 2006 was $22,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And more than 90 percent of tellers work only part time, according to Labor Department statistics.
Community colleges across the country -- though not in the St. Louis area -- are offering bank teller courses just to meet the demand. Locally, Lewis & Clark Community College, whose main campus is in Godfrey, is developing a bank teller course to be offered next spring, according to Katie Sledge, continuing education coordinator.
For the most part, financial institutions in the St. Louis area are being innovative in hiring, training and retaining tellers.
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This story, which appeared in the St. Louis Business Journal (www.stlouis.bizjournal.com) was written by Jim Baer