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Is Major Banks a Good Career Path?

Female working in major bank career path

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Working in a major bank can be a rewarding career — big banking institutions offer a variety of  opportunities and job security. Major banks typically have retail, commercial, and corporate banking functions, so the career options  include everything from  entry-level openings for bank tellers and analysts to roles for experienced finance professionals. But, is major banks a good career path for you? Read on to find out.

What Are Major Banks? 

Major banks in the U.S. are the largest banking institutions, typically ranked by total assets (how much money the bank holds) or market capitalization (the bank’s number of publicly traded stocks multiplied by the current stock price). The biggest and most well-known major banks in America include JPMorgan Chase, with total assets equalling $3.67 trillion in 2022, and Bank of America, with $3.06 trillion in assets in 2022.

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What Do Major Banks Do?

The banking industry has three main sections: retail banking (direct to individual customers), commercial banking (for businesses), and corporate finance (investment banking). 

Most major banks handle all of these functions, sometimes under different names or subsidiaries. For example, JPMorgan Chase & Co. operates under the name Chase for retail banking services like credit cards. Commercial banking with JPMorgan Chase & Co. may be done through J.P. Morgan or Chase. Corporate and investment banking, though, falls under the name of JPMorgan Chase. 

By operating in all the different areas of the banking industry, major banks can offer their clients a wide variety of financial services. These products and services include credit cards and personal loans, savings accounts and ATMs, and facilitating mergers and acquisitions (M&A) between large corporations. 

>>MORE: Explore the different types of companies in the finance field.

J.P.Morgan bank corporation headquarters glass building concept. JP Morgan banking company symbol on front facade 3d illustration.

JPMorgan Commercial Banking

Discover types of tasks commercial bankers deliver for clients day in and day out and build your banking skills in this free job simulation from JPMorgan.

Avg. Time: 6 to 7 hours

Skills you’ll build: Accounting, credit analysis, spreadsheets, transaction analysis, strategy, industry analysis, presentations, strategic rationale, deal structuring, risk assessment

How Many Jobs Are Available in Major Banks?

Because major banks offer such a wide variety of financial services, they also have a diverse range of available finance careers. Some common positions at a major bank include:


Tellers work in both retail and commercial banking sectors, helping customers cash checks, withdraw funds, and make deposits. A bank teller is also responsible for answering customers’ questions and concerns and handling account discrepancies. 

Despite a predicted 15% decline in job growth for tellers through 2032, the BLS predicts 29,000 annual openings.

Underwriting Assistant

An underwriting assistant helps determine if a client is eligible for things like loans, mortgages, and insurance policies. Underwriting assistants work under a lead or managing underwriter, tackling various duties that include data entry, information collection, and administrative tasks. 

Due to advancements in automation and artificial intelligence, the employment of underwriters is declining; the BLS projects around 8,200 openings each year for insurance underwriters — a 2% decline in growth.

NYC AIG office, working at AIG

AIG Underwriting

Replicate the work that our underwriting team does every day, including client presentations, data analysis, and qualitative underwriting in this free job simulation from AIG.

Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

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Loan Officer

A loan officer works in retail and commercial banking to determine if clients and customers are eligible for loans based on their credit history and current finances. Loan officers work with underwriters and recommend customers for loan approval. 

The job outlook for loan officers is on par with the average across all occupations — a 3% growth rate between 2022 and 2032, with around 25,300 openings expected annually. 

>>MORE: Learn the differences between loan officers and underwriters.


Accountants can work in all sectors of a bank: commercial, retail, or corporate. In general, an accountant’s job will be similar regardless of what area they work in and involves reviewing and reporting financial information for the company. Some accountants may also focus on ensuring the bank complies with federal and state regulations. 

Professionals who can accurately review and assess financial details are always in demand. According to the BLS, employment of accountants and auditors is expected to cause around 126,500 openings each year — a growth rate of 4% through 2032.

Logo for Koch Industries

Koch Accounting

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Avg. Time: 2 to 3 hours

Skills you’ll build: Critical thinking, problem solving, process ownership, organization, Excel, data analysis, effective communication, financial acumen, project management

Investment Banker

Investment bankers, a specialized type of financial analyst, work in the corporate finance side of the banking industry in a variety of facets. For example, some investment bankers focus on facilitating mergers and acquisitions, while others help corporate clients find investment opportunities and buy or sell securities (like stocks and bonds). 

Financial analysts are crucial across the finance industry, and their employment growth outlook reflects that — the BLS projects around 27,400 openings annually for financial analysts with an 8% growth rate between 2022 and 2032.

J.P.Morgan bank corporation headquarters glass building concept. JP Morgan banking company symbol on front facade 3d illustration.

JPMorgan Investment Banking

Advise your client on a suitable M&A target to expand their operations in Asia as a junior Investment Banker with this job simulation from JPMorgan.

Avg. Time: 3 to 4 hours

Skills you’ll build: M&A screening, cross-team collaboration, company analysis, strategic rationale, M&A process, modelling, DCF, presentation

Portfolio Manager

Portfolio managers are financial managers who oversee investing strategies for clients like wealthy individuals and large corporations. A portfolio manager works primarily in corporate finance in a bank. However, many portfolio managers may work for entities outside banking institutions, such as hedge funds and private equity firms. 

As the economy grows, employment of experienced financial managers continues to be necessary. The BLS expects a 16% increase in employment of financial managers between 2022 and 2032, equating to an average of around 69,600 new openings each year. 

Citibank, citigroup logo

Citi Markets Sales & Trading

Analyze the outcomes of an open market committee meeting and pitch a trade to your client with this free job simulation from Citi's Markets Sales & Trading team.

Avg. Time: 6 to 7 hours

Skills you’ll build: Written communication, market research, summarization, research, critical thinking

Chief Financial Officer

A chief financial officer, or CFO, is the head of a company’s finances. In a bank, a CFO helps direct the bank’s financial strategy, oversees budgeting and planning, and ensures finances are properly managed. 

Employment of chief executive officers is generally declining, with the BLS predicting an 8% decrease in employment over the next decade. Ultimately, as technology advances and companies find ways to do more with less, the need for large executive teams dwindles.

J.P.Morgan bank corporation headquarters glass building concept. JP Morgan banking company symbol on front facade 3d illustration.

JPMorgan Global Finance and Business Management

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Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

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Beyond these careers, banks also need people who work indirectly with the financial side of the business. For example, banks need engineers to create secure websites and mobile applications for banking functions. Banks also need administrative workers who keep the offices running efficiently and security guards to protect branch locations. 

How to Get Into a Career in Major Banks

Landing a career in a major bank depends on the role you want. While some jobs require extensive education, specialized skills, and experience (like financial managers), other roles are open to entry-level applicants with little-to-no experience. 


For most careers in a major bank, you need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a finance-focused field like economics, accounting, finance, or business. However, some roles, like higher-ranking investment banking jobs, may require post-secondary degrees like a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). 

Major banks also offer entry-level starting points for those with a high school diploma, such as bank teller roles. 

Beyond your degree, you can get your foot in the door at a major bank through internships and networking. 

“​​Many banks offer internships, so taking part in one of these can be a great way to gain experience and forge connections with the industry,” says Tommy Gallagher, founder of Top Mobile Banks.  

Gallagher also notes that networking is essential in the banking industry, and attending things like seminars and conferences can help you make the connections you need to get ahead in a major bank. 

Learn the Skills You Need

Learn the skills you need to succeed and get noticed by top employers with our free banking job simulations.


Entry-level careers at major banks may not require certifications, but you likely need a certification or higher degree to advance. Some certifications for major banks careers include: 

  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification: typically required for financial analysts
  • Certified public accountant (CPA) license: common license for accountants 
  • Mortgage loan originator (MLO) license: licensing for mortgage loan officers
  • Financial risk manager (FRM) certification: accreditation for loan officers, financial managers, financial analysts, and compliance officers to show risk-assessment skills
What's the difference between a financial analyst vs. accountant?

NY Jobs CEO Council Financial Analyst

Analyze a company's financials as an analyst on the technology team in this free job simulation.

Avg. Time: 2 to 3 hours

Skills you’ll build: Financial analysis, critical thinking, problem solving, Excel, communication


A successful career in major banks, regardless of role, requires certain soft skills like: 

These skills are pivotal to handling the ever-changing environment of a major bank and working with various teams in the bank to accomplish shared goals. 

However, major bank careers often require hard skills, too. For instance, many banking jobs require an understanding of  the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the types of financial statements, and how to calculate financial metrics such as EBITDA (earnings before taxes, depreciation, and amortization) and enterprise value.

Citibank, citigroup logo

Citi Finance

Help our Finance team manage business KPIs, financial risks, and predict credit card sales in this free job simulation.

Avg. Time: 5 to 6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Fact finding, data analysis, communication, presentations, Basel III regulation, judgment, commercial awareness

Major Banks Salaries

Salaries for careers in major banks vary depending on the level of seniority and experience required for the position. 

To become a bank teller, you typically need a high school diploma and some customer service experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bank tellers have average annual salaries of $36,800

Fidelity Customer Service

Learn the customer service skills you need to land a major banks career with this free job simulation from Fidelity Investments.

Avg. Time: 1 to 2 hours

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On the other hand, you need a bachelor’s degree to become a loan officer. But, that extra education requirement usually comes with a higher salary — loan officers make yearly wages of $84,160 on average.

Ultimately, positions requiring higher degrees, experience, or certifications often come with higher salaries. For instance, a career in financial management, such as a portfolio manager, requires several years of experience in corporate finance and at least a bachelor’s degree. With these added requirements, financial managers make, on average,  $166,050 per year

>>MORE: Explore some of the highest-paying careers in finance.

Pros and Cons of Major Banks Career Paths

Job securityCompetitive
High salariesLong hours
Many opportunitiesPressure

Is major banks a good career path? Well, one of the main benefits of working in major banks is that they’re massive organizations, meaning your career can move in many different directions without needing to change companies. Banks also pay well, especially for more senior roles in management and investing. 

“The banking industry is generally very stable and resistant to downturns, meaning you will have a steady income and few disruptions to your day-to-day operations,” adds Gallagher. 

However, a career in banking isn’t for everyone. Job openings are competitive, and that competition carries through to the day-to-day. There’s a lot of pressure to outperform your coworkers, and even minor mistakes on the job can cost the bank a lot of money. 

Additionally, Gallagher notes that, “Banks often operate outside of regular working hours, and employees may be required to stay back or work overtime to meet deadlines.” 

Find Your Career Fit

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Some career paths that have similar skills and education requirements as working in a major bank include: 

Unsure which career path is right for you? Start exploring your options with Forage’s free job simulations.

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McKayla Girardin is a NYC-based writer with Forage. She is experienced at transforming complex concepts into easily digestible articles to help anyone better understand the world we live in.

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