Thinking of a Career in Banking?

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There comes a time (or times) in most adults’ lives when they must sit down and ask themselves what industry is truly best for them. Unfortunately, very few people actually get to grow up to be cowboys and princesses as they fantasized about as children. Whether you are a college student about to embark on your professional career, or a mid-level manager considering an all-out career change, taking a moment to consider what banking jobs have to offer can help you decide if one is right for you.

To aid with that, we profiled a few popular banking jobs — from entry-level to high-end — included in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) “Occupational Outlook Handbook” so you can decide if this field might be right for you.

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1. Bank teller

What they do: Tellers are the frontline soldiers of the banking industry. They deal directly with customers on all types of transactions, handling cash, checks and other forms of payment; answering questions; converting currency; taking accurate records of their operations; and more. They can also be responsible for suggesting financial services to customers, such as certificates of deposit, alternative types of checking and savings account, et cetera.

What they need: Among banking jobs, this is often considered a beginning opportunity. There is not a high degree of education required to become a teller (a high school diploma is generally sufficient), and on-the-job training is standard. Skills that will help a teller succeed, which can lead to promotions, include basic math, strong customer service and sharp attention to detail.

What they earn: CBSalary.com lists the average annual salary for a bank teller in the U.S. to be $28,033.

Job outlook: While the rise of mobile banking apps and automated services has significantly affected the growth of this position (the BLS predicts only a 1% increase in the number of tellers for the decade 2010-2020), opportunities for those interested should be good because it is a position many take and then advance out of.

2. Loan officers

What they do: According to the BLS, loan officers work for banks, credit unions, mortgage companies and other financial institutions to evaluate and decide if candidates qualify for loans. Candidates can include individuals as well as businesses. They use a process called underwriting to determine if loan applicants are well-suited to receive and pay back their potential loans. This involves intense scrutiny of the applicants’ financial history, income, and more, and many loan officers use special software to help with the underwriting process.

What they need: These banking jobs can be obtained with only a high school diploma, but generally those who want to work in commercial lending (giving money to businesses) will need a bachelor’s degree. Common areas of study are finance, business and economics.

What they earn: The average annual salary for a loan officer in the U.S. is $73,876, according to CBSalary.com.

Job outlook: The need for loan officers is expected to remain steady. The BLS puts the expected growth at 14% for the decade 2010-2020, about as fast as the growth for all occupations (banking jobs and otherwise).

3. Investment bankers

What they do: Investment bankers connect investors who have money to lend with businesses in need of funds. As the BLS explains it, “The banks first sell their advisory services to help companies issue new stocks or bonds, and then the banks sell the issued securities to investors.” They are very important when companies merge, or when one company acquires another, as well as when IPO offerings are made. IPOs are “initial public offerings,” the process by which a company becomes publicly available on the stock market.

What they need: A bachelor’s degree is standard, and many who want to excel in the field will also go for a Master’s of Business Administration. In the U.S., the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority requires all investment bankers to register as representatives of their firm. This entails passing a series of exams.

What they earn: Though CBSalary.com lists the average annual salary of an investment banker to be $80,585, the ceiling can be much higher based on performance and the size of the companies the investor works with.

Job outlook: Though its growth rate is only predicted to be 15% for the decade 2010-2020, the BLS believes investment bankers will be needed more as the economy recovers because of new companies requiring IPOs.

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