You could check out a new career in the retail sector

AS a checkout operator you would work on a till, serving customers in a supermarket, convenience store or large retail store.

Your day-to-day duties would include:

l passing items over an electronic bar code reader or keying in prices manually

l taking cash, cheque and credit card payments

l processing loyalty cards and any discount or credit vouchers

l keeping the work area tidy and stocked with change, till rolls, carrier bags and other items.

You might have extra duties, such as balancing the till or working on a customer service desk, dealing with faulty and returned items.

In supermarkets, you would weigh items such as fruit and vegetables and pack goods into bags. You may also put out stock, although in large stores and supermarkets this is normally done by a shelf-filler.

In department stores and some smaller shops your work could be combined with sales assistant duties.

You would typically work 38 hours a week as a full-time checkout operator, which may include evenings and weekends.

Many stores are now open 24 hours a day seven days a week so shift work may be required. There are lots of opportunities to work part time.

Many of the large retail stores are situated in out-of-town locations, so you may need your own transport. Your employer would provide a uniform.

Checkout operators earn between £11,800 and £16,000 a year. Supervisors may earn around £18,000 a year.

You do not usually need any qualifications to become a checkout operator, but some companies may prefer you to have GCSEs including maths and English.

Enthusiasm and good people skills are valued by employers.

Experience in handling cash and serving customers would also give you an advantage.

You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship scheme.

You will usually be trained on the job, working alongside experienced staff.

With larger stores, you may have an induction course covering areas like working the tills, using associated technology, health and safety procedures.

Skills and knowledge you will need for this sort of job would include good customer service skills, a polite and friendly manner, the ability to deal tactfully with difficult customers, good spoken communication skills, basic maths skills and a smart and tidy appearance.

You will find most vacancies with the well-known supermarket chains and DIY stores.

Many stores encourage staff development and you may get the opportunity to move into a supervisory or management post. Your prospects are likely to be greatest with larger organisations.