Education and Training High school education for entry-level administrative positions, bachelor’s degree or higher for management and finance positions
Average Salary $11.35 per hour for tellers to $91,562 per year for general and operations managers
Job Outlook Very good
Banking encompasses a wide range of occupations, from tellers who conducts transactions for individuals to financial managers who direct bank departments and branches. Banks protect money and offer loans, credit, and services such as checking and savings accounts, debit cards, and cashier’s checks. They also may offer investment and insurance products, as well as financial planning, asset management and brokerage services. Many offer trust services, managing assets placed in trust for people or organizations that may include pension funds, school endowments, company profit-sharing plans or estates.
For most banks, the principal source of revenue is interest on loans, so the lending departments are key to the bank’s success. These include consumer lending, such as credit cards, student loans, personal loans and vehicle loans; commercial lending to companies; and mortgage lending for individuals and businesses buying real estate. Employees within these departments include loan officers who evaluate applications, determine ability to repay and recommend approval, as well as advising delinquent customers on financial management or taking action to collect outstanding debts.
Education and Training Requirements
For most office and administrative positions, a high school education is the minimum. Positions in management, business and finance usually require at least a college degree. This could be a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a liberal arts degree with business administration courses, or any bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s in business administration.
Several specialized certifications are offered for higher-level banker positions. The Mortgage Bankers Association offers the Certified Mortgage Banker program, demonstrating deep understanding of the mortgage business. Requirements include three years of experience, additional educational credits and an exam. There is a Loan Review Certificate program for employees who review and approve loans, offered by the Banking Administration Institute. Agents who sell securities must be licensed by the National Association of Securities Dealers and there also is licensure required for agents who sell insurance.
Getting the Job
All banking occupations require excellent customer service, computer, and communication skills. In addition, because employees can access large amounts of money as well as confidential personal information, a background check is required for most positions.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The banking industry had about 1.8 million employees in 2008, with 74 percent in commercial banks and the rest in credit unions and savings institutions. About 85 percent of institutions had fewer than 20 employees, but these sites, mostly bank branch offices, hired 38 percent of all employees.
Office and administrative support positions make up 64 percent of banking jobs. They are excellent places to start, with “middle positions” including accountants, auditors, budget analysts, credit analysts, and financial analysts. Many management positions are filled from within by promoting people with professional experience and technical skills.
Job growth will be driven by the growing number of local branches and by increases in wealth and investments. There continue to be many opportunities for office and administrative support positions, which tend to have high turnover. In addition, as the number of branches grows, particularly into nontraditional sites such as within grocery stores, more branch managers will be needed.
Deregulation has allowed banks to offer a variety of financial and insurances products they previously were prohibited from selling. This offers opportunities for financial analysts, personal financial advisors and the growing “personal banker” sector. Conversely, deregulation has allowed nonbanking establishments such as independent financial advising firms and insurance companies to offer financial services, so banks face continued competition.
Working Conditions and Environment
Except for some tellers, most banking employees work full time. In a typical branch they will work weekdays, plus some evenings if the bank is open late or Saturday mornings. As banks expand into nontraditional areas such as grocery stores or adopt longer or even Sunday hours, some employees will have to fill these shifts, although not all services may be offered at all times. Branch office jobs require continual customer contact and a high level of attention to detail during repetitive tasks. Tellers may work long hours in confined spaces and may be required to stand.
Commercial and mortgage loan officers may travel to meet clients, check loan applications, and solicit new business. Along with financial service sales representatives, they may work evenings or weekends if those are the only hours their clients can meet.
Salary and Benefits
Hourly wages for office and administrative positions range from $11.35 for tellers to $19.24 for executive secretaries and administrative assistants. Other positions in this tier include a variety of clerks, customer service representatives, and loan interviewers.
Salaries for other banker positions are higher because generally more education is required. A loan officer can expect to make $54,704, general and operations managers $91,562, and financial managers as high as $99,341.
In addition to traditional benefits, some bankers can expect equity sharing and performance-based pay as part of their packages. Incentives might be tied to sales goals, and employees might receive commissions for referrals or sales.
Where to Go for More Information
American Bankers Association
1120 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(800) BANKERS (800-226-5377)
Consumers Bankers Association
1000 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 2500
Arlington, VA 22209-3912
Independent Community Bankers of America
1615 L St. NW, Ste. 900
Washington, DC 20036