Education and Training: High school
Salary: Median—$23,317 to $27,310 per year
Employment Outlook: Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
Banks simplify people's lives, but the business of banking is anything but simple. Every transaction—from cashing a check to taking out a loan—requires careful record keeping. Behind the scenes in every bank or savings and loan association there are dozens of bank clerks, each an expert at keeping one area of the bank's business running smoothly.
New account clerks open and close accounts and answer questions for customers. Interest clerks record interest due to savings account customers, as well as the interest owed to the bank on loans and other investments. Exchange clerks, who work on international accounts, translate foreign currency values into dollars and vice versa. Loan clerks sort and record information about loans. Statement clerks are responsible for preparing the monthly balance sheets of checking account customers. Securities clerks record, file, and maintain stocks, bonds, and other investment certificates. They also keep track of dividends and interest on these certificates.
Other clerks operate the business machines on which modern banks rely. Proof operators sort checks and record the amount of each check. Bookkeeping clerks keep records of each customer's account.
In addition to these specialists, banks need general clerical help—data entry keyers, file clerks, mail handlers, and messengers—just as any other business does.
Education and Training Requirements
Bank clerks usually need a high school education with an emphasis on basic skills in typing, bookkeeping, and business math. Knowledge of computers and business machines is also helpful. Prospective bank workers may be tested on their clerical skills when they are interviewed. Most banks provide new employees with on-the-job training.
Getting the Job
Sometimes bank recruiters visit high schools to look for future employees. High school placement offices can tell students whether this is the practice at their school. If not, prospective bank workers can apply directly to local banks through their personnel departments. Bank jobs may be listed with state and private employment agencies. Candidates can also check Internet job sites and the classified ads in local newspapers as well.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Banks prefer to promote their employees rather than hire new workers for jobs that require experience. Clerks frequently become tellers or supervisors. Many banks encourage their employees to further their education at night.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of bank clerks was expected to decline through the year 2014, because many banks are electronically automating their systems and eliminating paperwork as well as many clerical tasks. Workers with knowledge of data processing and computers will have the best opportunities. In addition to jobs created through expansion, openings at the clerical level often occur as workers move up to positions of greater responsibility.
Although banks usually provide a pleasant working atmosphere, clerks often work alone, at times performing repetitive tasks. Bank clerks generally work between thirty-five and forty hours per week, but they may be expected to take on evening and Saturday shifts depending on bank hours.
Earnings and Benefits
The salaries of bank clerks vary widely depending on the size and location of the bank and the clerk's experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median salaries ranged from $23,317 to $27,310 per year in 2004 depending on experience and title. Generally, loan clerks are on the high end of this range, whereas general office clerks are on the lower end.
Where to Go for More Information
American Bankers Association
1120 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
National Bankers Association
1513 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20005
Bank Administration Institute
1 N. Franklin St., Ste. 1000
Chicago, IL 60606
Banks typically offer their employees excellent benefits. Besides paid vacations and more than the usual number of paid holidays, employees may receive health and life insurance and participate in pension and profit-sharing plans. Some banks provide financial aid so that workers can continue their education.