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Banking

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October 14, 2007

Banking as a career field is definitely a mixed bag in today's markets. After several years of cutbacks due to automation, mergers, and tight profit margins, jobs began rebounding as community banking grew. But then the housing market took a downward turn, taking the lending side of banking with it.

Traditional banking, however, particularly at the community level, still provides needed services and a range of job opportunities, according to Kevin Kiley, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bankers Association. But the mortgage side of the business has shown significant retrenchment, he said. "People are cutting back."

Banking and investment continue to grow, he added, and a mobile, technologically driven population wants multiple service options such as Internet, ATMs, and face-to-face.

"I know people who've never been in a branch," he said. Kiley recommends a minimum of an undergraduate degree and related training if you want to succeed in the industry. Technical skills, computer science degrees, and expertise in banking services are more important than ever. Visit massbankers.org.

BANK TELLERS

Average salary: $26,630

Demand: Fairly good. Community banks offer the best opportunities. Many customers still prefer face-to-face banking, but positions are limited. Work is often part time and pay low for entry-level positions. High turnover.

Qualifications: Minimum high school education, plus math and communication skills. Customer-service experience and additional business and computer courses important for advancement.

LOAN AND CREDIT CLERKS

Average salary: $36,370

Demand: Mixed. The real estate slide is cutting into mortgage lending jobs; high housing and energy costs add to Massachusetts' mortgage industry woes. Consumer credit companies still offer some opportunities, but credit-scoring software has reduced clerk positions.

Qualifications: High school education, computer knowledge, and customer-service skills. Computer programming and banking courses are a plus.

FINANCIAL MANAGERS

Average salary: $116,450. Varies widely by industry and company size.

Demand: Mixed. Top performers with excellent interpersonal and analytical skills are still needed to manage financial products at community banks and midsize firms. Despite banking consolidations and a slow housing market, demand remains fairly good for skilled, experienced managers.

Qualifications: Finance or accounting degree required; advanced degrees and international finance help.

LOAN OFFICERS AND COUNSELORS

Average salary: $84,530

Demand: Fair to good. Although mortgage loans are down, borrowers still need help with debt management and loan consolidation. Automation has reduced the numbers of jobs, and economic fluctuations affect the market.

Qualifications: Finance, business, or economics degree, plus experience, knowledge of software applications, and strong interpersonal skills.

SECURITIES AND FINANCIAL SALES REPRESENTATIVES

Average salary: $116,580

Demand: Fairly good. Overall, the investment side of banking continues to do reasonably well. Investors are cautious, however, and want experienced brokers for professional advice and guidance in complex, sometimes volatile, markets.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree, good sales and communication skills.

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