What’s the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Bank Teller?

An image of a Bank Teller for our FAQ on What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Bank Teller

If you’re sharp, intelligent, focused, and enjoy interacting with the public, then a career as a bank teller might be a good fit for you. Bank tellers have a huge amount of responsibility, especially when it comes to handling money. But, if you can deal with the pressure of tracking, recording, and reporting transaction data, the job can be rewarding. You don’t need a college degree to become a bank teller. However, you’ll need a high-school diploma. You’ll also need to pass a series of background tests. After all, your day is spent handling other people’s money.

How Do You Become a Bank Teller?

You won’t need a banking degree to become a bank teller, but a surprising number of bank tellers hold associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. However, bank teller education requirements, for the most part, do not call for a degree. Instead, you’ll need the following to work at a bank.

  • High-School Diploma or Equivalent
  • A Certification
  • Pass a Background Test

To work as a full-time bank teller, you’ll first need to receive a high-school diploma, GED, or equivalent. A college degree isn’t required, but it may help with advancement in your banking career. High-school classes that will help you prepare for work as a bank teller include:

  • accounting
  • banking and finance
  • computer science
  • personal finance

Taking a foreign language, particularly Spanish, can help you in areas where the language is frequently used.

Once you’ve earned your high-school diploma, you might consider picking up a certificate. Bank teller certificates validate your skills in:

  • banking operations
  • customer service
  • ethics

While certification is not required for most bank teller jobs, it can help with promotion and advancement later in your career. Some certificates require:

  •  coursework completion
  • a certain amount of work experience (such as six months)
  • passing an examination

Certificates are offered through the American Bankers Association or the Independent Community Bankers of America.

The next step toward becoming a bank teller is to pass a background test. Candidates for bank teller positions are required to pass a criminal and consumer background test. Employers check for signs of:

  • criminal activity
  • unethical practices
  • consumer history

If you’ve filed bankruptcy in the last seven years or your credit score has plummeted, you might get passed over for the job. However, if you have valid reasons for your financial woes and show that you have overcome financial strain and pressure, the potential employer might reevaluate your situation.

An image of a bank teller for our FAQ on What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Bank Teller

What Degree Does a Bank Teller Need?

You don’t need a bank teller degree to work in this occupation. Since bank teller is usually an entry-level position, employers don’t require a degree. However, a surprising number of bank tellers do hold degrees. Bachelor’s or associate’s degrees may help you advance in your career. By having a bachelor’s degree in banking, business, or finance, you may be eligible for work as a loan officer or in a supervisory position. Also, some bank tellers with degrees pursue sales positions in the bank or industry.

Below are some of the best degrees for bank tellers who wish to advance in their career.

Associate’s in Banking
By earning an associate’s degree in banking, you learn the fundamentals of the banking industry. You’ll gain understanding of the basic principles of banking, as well as foundational accounting methods and a working knowledge of finance. You’ll also lay a foundation that will help you should you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. With an associate’s in banking, you’ll qualify for bank teller and junior loan officer jobs.

Bachelor’s in Accounting
A bachelor’s in accounting degree helps you understand basic accounting principles in the banking industry environment. Accounting majors learn how to:

  • read and understand balance sheets
  • maintain income statements
  • track assets

They also gain experience in completing audits of bank statements.

Bachelor’s in Business Administration
The BBA or bachelor’s in business administration is a foundational degree that offers a basic understanding of business practices. Some programs offer concentrations in banking that help you prepare for a banking career. Relevant course topics may include commercial bank management or financial management.

Bachelor’s in Finance
Finance is a popular major for banking professionals. The degree offers insight and exposure to relevant banking topics like:

  • fiscal responsibilities
  • monetary policies
  • tax laws

Earning a degree in finance can help leverage your banking career.

What Does It Take to Be a Bank Teller?

Without the requirement of bank teller schooling, you may wonder what skills you need to become a bank teller. After all, you may not want to wait until your first day on the job to decide that you’re not a good fit for the position. According to bank professionals, there are certain qualities, skills, and attributes that make a person a good fit for the bank teller role. These skills are not always taught in a classroom. Instead, they can be honed over time. Here’s a list of four important qualities that bank tellers should have.

  • Detail-orientation: A bank teller must check for accuracy and ensure that errors do not occur during transactions. When dealing with a customer’s money, attention to detail is critical. Bank tellers should be extremely detail-oriented people.
  • Good customer-service skills: Since bank tellers spend their day interacting with customers and working with the public, good customer-service skills are necessary. Bank tellers should be friendly, helpful, and patient. They are often the person customers interact with the most. They should be able to listen to customers and explain all banking services to them.
  • Mathematics skills: Bank tellers handle money, often large amounts. To conduct transactions accurately, you must have strong math skills.
  • Organizational skills: Organizational skills are important for bank tellers. Days are spent handling money and checking for accuracy. The ability to pay attention to details and keep organized is important.

An image of a bank teller for our FAQ on What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Bank Teller

How Long Does It Take to Become a Bank Teller?

With no degree required in becoming a bank teller, training is essential. Bank tellers often undergo on-the-job training that typically lasts around one month. During training time, a head teller or another experienced banking professional trains the new employee. Training may consist of:

  • learning how to balance cash drawers
  • verifying signatures
  • using computer software

Bank tellers learn on the job. It’s not unusual for the 30-day training time to be a probationary period for the new employee.

How to Become a Bank Teller Without a Degree

On your quest to becoming a bank teller, you won’t necessarily need a college degree. There’s no specific bank teller school to attend. To advance your career, you may decide to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, such as banking or finance. In lieu of a degree, some bank tellers earn certificates that show they have mastered certain banking skills. These certificates are offered online through the American Bankers Association.

To qualify for employment as a bank teller, you’ll need a high-school diploma and good credit. You’ll also need to pass a background check to ensure there are no signs of unethical behavior.

How Much Money Does a Bank Teller Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bank tellers earn a median annual wage of $32,620. The lowest 10% of earners in this occupation make $24,660. The highest 10% make more than $41,220. The top-paying industry for this occupation is management of companies and enterprises, as reported by BLS. In this top-paying industry, bank tellers earn median annual wages of $34,120, which is slightly higher than the national average.

In certain areas of the country, bank tellers earn higher-than-average wages. The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) published by BLS reports five top-paying states for bank tellers. These states are:

  • District of Columbia: $38,060
  • Rhode Island: $37,940
  • Washington: $36,740
  • Massachusetts: $36,420
  • Hawaii: $36,380

All the above states offer more than the average earnings for this profession. In addition to certain high-paying states, BLS reports top-paying metropolitan areas for bank tellers. Some of the highest-paying metro areas include:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: $41,600
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida: $38,770
  • Redding, California: $38,530
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, California: $38,380
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: $38,320
  • Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California: $38,240
  • Longview, Washington: $38,210

The top-paying metro areas offer earnings well above the national average of $32,620, but you don’t have to live in a metro area to earn favorable wages as a bank teller. In some non-metro areas, you’ll enjoy a lower cost of living and high wages for this occupation. Top-paying non-metropolitan areas for bank tellers include:

  • Alaska non-metro area: $37,390
  • Connecticut non-metro area: $35,800
  • Hawaii/Kauai non-metro area: $35,650
  • Coastal Oregon non-metro area: $35,550
  • Southeast Minnesota non-metro area: $34,980

An image of a bank teller for our FAQ on What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming a Bank Teller

What Is the Job Outlook for Bank Tellers?

Now that you’re more informed about becoming a bank teller, it’s important to understand what your job prospects might be. Unfortunately, the job outlook for bank tellers is projected to decline over the next 10 years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an expected decline of 17 percent through 2030 for bank tellers.

Despite the declining employment for this occupation, about 33,700 openings should occur each year through 2030. These openings are expected to result from the need to replace those who retire or transfer to another occupation. Often, as bank tellers advance to other positions in the banking system, their position must be filled.

In the past, the employment growth of bank tellers was directly related to the expansion of banks and banking services. As new bank branches opened, more bank teller jobs were added. However, in recent years, there has been a decline in banks opening new branches. Also, there’s been a significant decline in hiring new bank tellers due to technological changes. Mobile banking and online services have skyrocketed. People are also changing the way they bank. Fewer customers visit bank tellers in person or at a drive-thru. Instead, they conduct transactions online. Enhanced online services and the emergence of automated technology will result in fewer bank tellers being employed at each bank branch.

What Is the Work Environment Like for Bank Tellers?

Bank tellers mostly work indoors and in banks or financial institutions. Some work in non-traditional banking settings, such as branches in grocery or retail stores. Some work in large banking buildings, while others spend their days in small banks. Bank tellers work in towns and cities around the globe. There are some things that all bank tellers can expect no matter what environment they’re in:

  • Desk work
  • Sharing space with coworkers
  • Sitting and standing for long periods of time
  • Working traditional hours with holidays and occasional weekends off

According to the BLS, bank tellers held 432,500 jobs last year. Almost all of these tellers worked in credit intermediation and related activities. In fact, 97% of all bank tellers worked for this employer, making it the largest employer for this occupation. About 1% of bank tellers worked for management of companies and enterprises.

How Bank Tellers Advance

Experienced bank tellers often advance within their bank and industry. Bank tellers become head tellers and move into supervisory positions. Some tellers even move into different departments and take loan officer roles. To advance within a bank, you must acquire experience and training. Some tellers take college courses or earn certificates from the American Bankers Association to help demonstrate their skills. Others others go back to school to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. While a degree isn’t needed to secure an entry-level job as a bank teller, it might be useful when looking to advance.

The more experience you have as a teller, the more likely you are to advance. Gaining supervisory or management experience can help a bank teller move into a leadership role and enjoy a rewarding career in this profession.

BDP Staff
January 2022

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