Career Related Questions Answers

Bank PO vs Bank Clerk – Which one to choose?

While bank exams have become a go-to option for fresh graduates and working professionals due to the lucrative remuneration, job security, and plenty of allowances, aspirants often seem to be spoilt for choice with the number of equally exciting & challenging paths. The biggest confusion for applicants often seems to be choosing between the bank clerk and bank PO examinations. If you are also faced with this dilemma, then don’t fret!


By the end of this article, you will not only get answers to all your queries regarding the bank PO & clerk exams but also be able to decide whether it would be wise for you to apply for the bank PO exams or the bank clerical exams. 


Let’s compare the two options based on the following parameters:

Opportunities for Bank PO role:

The role of a Probationary Officer (PO) in the banking sector is easily the most sought after with over 25 lakh aspirants applying each year for the IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Section) PO exam and SBI (State Bank of India) PO exam combined. The average IBPS PO salary ranges between INR 8 LPA and INR 12 LPA which is a clear indicator of why bank exams are the fad now amongst active seekers.

The IBPS and SBI are hands down the largest recruiters in the banking sector and they conduct some of the most competitive exams – IBPS PO and SBI PO – in India. There are around 4500 to 5000 vacancies in the IBPS PO exam usually while there are over 12,000 vacant positions offered by the SBI PO annually. Every year the IBPS clerk gives aspirants like you a shot at about 8500 to 9000 clerical openings and the IBPS clerk offers 12000 odd positions.

The IBPS PO organized by the IBPS is a common gateway for several reputed banks such as the Canara Bank, Allahabad Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and over 10 other well established organizations. The SBI PO is conducted to fill the PO vacancies across all the SBI offices in the country. 


While these two exams are the most popular pathways to secure a bank PO job there are private banks such as the Bank of Baroda (BOB), ICICI that conduct their own recruitment processes to identify quality talent. Some banks even go to the extent of training the shortlisted candidates further for a year through a Post Graduate Diploma course before onboarding them as a Probationary Officer in one of their offices/branches.


The SBI Clerk salary is just over INR 23.000 while the monthly take home salary for an IBPS clerk is around INR 19,500. The salary and associated benefits may vary based on the location in which you are posted.
The basic salary of a probationary officer is itself higher than that of the clerk. The in hand salary ranges between INR 38,000 to INR 42,000 depending upon the employer and the job location. Both the Bank PO & clerk are also eligible for allowances such as Medical benefits. HRA, Transport Allowance, DA, City Compensatory Allowance (CCA) but the exact numbers would vary significantly.

Eligibility Criteria, Exam Pattern & Difficulty Level:

The basic eligibility is a graduation degree from a recognized university. The age limit for the 4 exams varies though. The SBI Clerk can be attempted by candidates any number of times as long as they are eligible for it while there is a cap on the number of attempts for the SBI PO. A candidate can only attempt the SBI PO exam 4 times. There are certain relaxations based on the category a candidate belongs to here as well.


The SBI exams are considered to be more difficult than their IBPS counterparts. The PO exams are significantly more difficult than the clerk exams. The clerk exams don’t involve an interview process which could be a deciding factor for candidates who get nervous during interviews.


Career Progression, Job Role & Responsibilities

The role of a bank PO is a managerial one. The job role involves supervising clerical tasks and bank clerks. They are also responsible for adding new products to the product portfolio of the bank and selling loans. A probationary officer can climb up the hierarchical ladder much more quickly. Both POs and Clerks can get promoted by attempting internal promotional exams or with experience. They even stand a chance of becoming Chairman and Managing Director or even a General Manager of the bank. Clerks can move up to the officer post within 2 years itself. The salary and associated benefits also increase exponentially with the cadre.


We hope that these insights along with your individual goals and abilities will help you make an informed decision. Good luck!


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