Filling station sales assistants sell petrol, diesel and other products at filling stations. They operate a console next to the till to control and monitor the dispensing of fuel from the pumps on the forecourt.
On some older sites the assistant dispenses the fuel for customers. In most filling stations in the UK, however, customers refuel their own vehicles. Increasingly, customers can choose whether they pay on the forecourt at the dispenser, or in the kiosk or shop.
If a customer has a problem using a dispenser, the sales assistant may have to use a Tannoy system to give step-by-step instructions or go out onto the forecourt to help them.
If someone leaves without paying, closed circuit television (CCTV) usually records the details of the vehicle. If there is no CCTV, the assistant will need to record the vehicle make, model and registration number and alert the authorities immediately.
In addition to selling petrol and diesel, most filling stations also have a convenience store that sells a variety of goods, such as confectionery, groceries, newspapers, cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets and motor spares. Sale of these goods has become increasingly important to filling stations.
Where customers pay for their fuel in the retail outlet, the sales assistant uses a computerised display to check how much fuel a customer has bought and the cost of the fuel. They operate a till and take payment for the fuel and any other goods. Payment may be in the form of cash, cheques, credit or debit cards.
Filling station sales assistants may also carry out tasks such as:
- Re-ordering stock
- Signing for deliveries
- Refilling shelves
- Making sure security cameras are running correctly
- Keeping service areas safe, clean and tidy
At the end of each shift, the sales assistant checks that the money taken tallies with the sales recorded. This is done by reading a meter on each pump or the forecourt console and comparing the readings to the ones taken at the start of the shift.
Sales assistants need to be able to implement emergency procedures. They must be familiar with the laws covering filling stations and have a thorough understanding of all emergency equipment on site.
Senior assistants also deal with receiving deliveries of fuel, reconciling fuel stocks and routinely operating a forecourt site. They must be familiar with the requirements of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.
Filling stations have long opening hours, with many open 24 hours a day. Sales assistants usually work shifts that include some weekend and late evening work. Part-time work is common.
Filling station sales assistants spend most of their time inside a kiosk or shop, sitting at the checkout, serving customers or re-stocking the shelves.
At an attended fuel station, assistants have to go outside in all weather conditions to refuel customers' cars, but may be given protective clothing to wear.
Depending on the size of the fuel station, assistants may work alone or with one other person, with only a small amount of supervision.
Most employers provide a uniform for staff.
The smell and fumes from various fuels can be strong and hazardous.
The starting salary for filling station sales assistants may be around £11,000 to £12,000 a year. More experienced staff may expect to earn around £15,000 a year.
An experienced supervisor could earn £19,000 a year, or more.
Filling station sales assistants work at filling stations throughout the UK. Filling stations range from small, independently owned sites to large supermarket chains. A few filling stations operate under franchise agreements with oil companies; some others are attached to garages that sell cars or offer repairs and servicing.
The number of filling stations in the UK has fallen from around 18,000 in 1992 to just over 9,000. This reduction has led to fewer sales assistants being employed. Staff turnover means, though, that vacancies arise regularly, particularly in towns and cities.
Vacancies may be advertised in Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices, in local newspapers, on the internet and directly by the retailers.
There are no formal academic requirements to work as a filling station sales assistant. Employers look for basic numeracy skills and good communication skills. The Level 1 or 2 Diploma in retail business may be helpful for this area of work. Any previous customer service or cash-handling experience would be useful.
Assistants need to be at least 18 years old to operate a filling station forecourt without supervision and to receive fuel deliveries. They must also be at least 18 to sell tobacco and cigarettes.
It may be possible to enter this work through a Retail Apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Most retailers and some oil companies have their own training programme's for filling stations sales assistants. They may provide induction courses and training in a classroom environment. Other employers train assistants on the job, using text-based material. Training includes topics such as security, handling fires or other emergencies, customer care and retail skills.
Many sales assistants attend a two-day Petrol Retail Passport course. This teaches safe work practices and identifying potential hazards on a forecourt.
Sales assistants may work towards a qualification such as:
Apprentices work towards a Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in retail skills and the Level 2 Certificate in retail knowledge.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A filling station sales assistant should:
It may be possible to progress to a post as a supervisor and then into management. Some assistants may become managers with an oil company or become area managers for a number of different sites.
Filling station sales assistants may use their customer service skills and experience to move to other retail or customer service work.
Retail Motor Industry Federation and RMI
Independent Petrol Retailers Association,
201 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5AB
Tel: 020 7580 9122
UK Petroleum Industry Association, Quality House,
Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP
Tel: 0207 269 7600
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.