Financial Institution Tellers, Clerks, and Related Workers


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 472,100, 3.2 million general office clerks, and about 1.7 million bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks employed in the United States. About 25 percent of tellers work part time. Financial institution tellers, clerks, and related workers are employed by commercial banks and other depository institutions and by mortgage banks and other nondepository institutions. 

Starting Out

Private and state employment agencies frequently list available positions for financial institution tellers, clerks, and related workers. Newspaper help-wanted advertisements carry listings for such employees. Some large financial institutions visit schools and colleges to recruit qualified applicants to fill positions on their staff.

If you are interested in a job as a financial institution teller or clerk, visit that organization's Web site to see if any job openings are posted. You may also try to contact the director of personnel at a bank or other institution to ask about employment opportunities. If any jobs are open, you may be asked to come in and fill out an application. Arrange the appointment first by telephone or e-mail because drop-in visits are disruptive and seldom welcome.

If you know someone who is willing to give you a personal introduction to the director of personnel or to the officers of a bank, you may find that this will help you secure employment. Personal and business references can be important to bank employers when they hire new personnel.

Many financial institution clerks begin their employment as trainees in certain types of work, such as business machine operation or general or specialized clerical duties. Employees may start out as file clerks, transit clerks, or bookkeeping clerks and in some cases as pages or messengers. In general, beginning jobs are determined by the size of the institution and the nature of its operations. In banking work, employees are sometimes trained in related job tasks so that they might be promoted later.

Advancement Prospects

Many banks and financial institutions follow a "promote-from-within" policy. Promotions are usually given on the basis of past job performance and consider the employee's seniority, ability, and general personal qualities. Clerks who have done well and established good reputations may be promoted to teller positions. Tellers, in turn, may be promoted to head teller or supervisory positions such as department head. Some head tellers may be transferred from their main branch bank to a smaller branch bank where they have greater responsibilities.

Employees who show initiative in their jobs and pursue additional education may advance into low-level officer positions, such as assistant trust officer. The American Bankers Association and BAI offer courses in various banking topics that can help employees learn new skills and prepare for promotions.

Promotion to higher-level positions typically requires the employee to have a college or advanced degree.

Tips for Entry

Land an entry-level job as a file clerk, transit clerk, bookkeeping clerk, or messenger to break into the banking industry.

Talk to bank workers about their careers. Ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.

Take courses to sharpen your math skills. Accuracy is vital in this field.