Material design for direct heat-to-electricity conversion with substantial efficiency essentially requires cooperative control of electrical and thermal transport. Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) and antimony telluride (Sb2Te3), displaying the highest thermoelectric power at room temperature, are also known as topological insulators (TIs) whose electronic structures are modified by electronic confinements and strong spin orbit interaction in a-few-monolayers thickness regime, thus possibly providing another degree of freedom for electron and phonon transport at surfaces. Here, we explore novel thermoelectric conversion in the atomic monolayer steps of a-few-layer topological insulating Bi2Te3 (n-type) and Sb2Te3 (p-type). Specifically, by scanning photoinduced thermoelectric current imaging at the monolayer steps, we show that efficient thermoelectric conversion is accomplished by optothermal motion of hot electrons (Bi2Te3) and holes (Sb2Te3) through 2D subbands and topologically protected surface states in a geometrically deterministic manner. Our discovery suggests that the thermoelectric conversion can be interiorly achieved at the atomic steps of a homogeneous medium by direct exploiting of quantum nature of TIs, thus providing a new design rule for the compact thermoelectric circuitry at the ultimate size limit.