Banking jobs have always been a lucrative option for lakhs of aspirants in the country because they are secure, prestigious and high-paying. There are many national level entrance tests for the banking services conducted by institutes like IBPS and individual banks like SBI, and Indian Bank, to recruit banking officials at various entry-level and mid-level posts. IBPS specifically is an institution which recruits for 17 central and state banks of India in different positions like, clerk, PO and SO.
While the educational qualification requirement, age limit, and skillsets are similar for all these posts, there are certain basic differences in the job roles, pay package, and gravitas of the position. The aspirants often face a major confusion between the joining as Bank PO and Bank SO. In this article, we are going to share the major differences between both the posts and also give pointers which will help you to choose between the two.
IBPS conducts the PO and SO exam once every year to recruit probationary officers and Specialist Officers for 17 banks all over India. The primary difference between these posts is the designation for which you are recruited. While the probationary officers have a more generic job description that may or may not be relevant to their stream of education, the specialist officers have works that are more relevant to their stream of education. Hence, the eligibility criteria specifically vary for both these job roles.
The following are the detailed eligibility and educational qualification required for both the posts-
To be eligible for IBPS CWE the candidate must have a basic graduation degree which can be BA, BCom, BSc, B.Tech, and similar options, from a university or institute that is recognized by the Government of India. Candidates who have equivalent degrees are also eligible for this position. Computer literacy is another major factor that is necessary for this post. Language proficiency is also judged before recruiting IBPS PO candidates. Also, the candidate should be within 30 years of age.
The educational qualification for IBPS SO varies based on the post that you are applying for. The recruited are known as specialist officers because they are selected for very specific tasks related to the bank. The following are the different posts and the qualification needed for them that you should be aware of-
|IT Officer Scale 1||Engineering/technology degree in computer science/IT/Computer Application/ECE/AEIE or Post Graduation in any of these disciplines or graduates who have qualified the DOEACC ``B” level exam.|
|Agricultural Field Officer Scale I||4-year graduation degree in Agriculture/Horticulture/Veterinary Science/Dairy science/ fishery science/agro-forestry/pisciculture/agri-marketing and cooperation|
|Rajbhasha Adhikari||Postgraduates in Hindi with English as a subject in graduation or post-graduation in Sanskrit with English in graduation|
|Law officer scale 1||Bachelors’ degree in Law and a part of the Bar Council.|
|HR/Personnel Officer Scale 1||Graduate/ Full-time postgraduate/ Full-time diploma in Personnel Management/industrial relation/HR/HRD/Social Work/labour Law|
|Marketing officer scale 1||Graduate and Full-time MMS/MBA in marketing, full-time PGDBA, PGDBM and specialization in Marketing.|
The selection process includes the steps of examination that the candidate has to go through in order to get selected in one of these posts.
The IBPS cut-off marks depend on several factors like the number of candidates appearing for the exam, the overall difficulty level of the question papers across the states, and the previous years’ cut-off marks. Hence, it slightly varies from year to year. The following are the cut-off marks that you can expect in each of the exams-
The following are the scores for different categories in 2018-19 IBPS PO-
|Category||Maximum marks||Minimum Marks|
The final cut-off marks for the different posts is different for IBPS SO-
|Agriculture Field Officer||41.65||40.90||34.65||30.00||26.50||27.20||28.95|
The exam pattern for IBPS PO and IBPS SO is also different. This means that your preparation must be done by taking a different approach. There is a slight difference in the syllabus of the preliminary exam and you should make sure that when you are preparing for both, you take the syllabus into consideration. The following is the exam pattern of both IBPS PO and IBPS SO to give you scope for comparison.
When you compare the exam pattern, IBPS SO is definitely less prolonged. On the other hand, for IBPS PO, the syllabus of mains and prelims overlap largely making it easier to finish the syllabus with less effort and time. If you are preparing for both IBPS PO and IBPS SO, only the English and reasoning ability syllabus will overlap for the preliminary exam. However, if you simultaneously prepare for IBPS PO Mains too, you can also cover the entire IBPS SO Prelims syllabus at the same time. Though, no such strategy will work for IBPS SO Mains where the syllabus is entirely different and based on the specific core knowledge related to the post.
The salary and perks associated with any type of banking services is the primary attraction for many candidates regarding these posts. The basic pay is lucrative for both IBPS PO and IBPS SO. It works as a major motivation for many aspirants and is also considered the most stable job opportunity in the country.
As you can see from the above information, the salary range of an IBPS SO is slightly lower than that of an IBPS PO. However, the workload and job description is much simpler for an IBPS SO which we will be discussing in detail in the next segments.
A major factor regarding choosing between IBPS SO and IBPS PO is the opportunities for growth. Both are entry-level positions in the banking sector and eventually, the recruited employees will be promoted over the years to mid-senior and senior positions related to their relevant posts. This is a very important criterion for the ambitious who want to reach the top of the hierarchy in the banking sector in the minimum time.
If you are an IBPS PO, there is ample scope for such growth. Over the years, if you perform really well, you can quickly climb up in the position through internal promotion exams or simply in the due course of time based on your experience. An IBPS PO can be promoted to the position of branch manager, assistant manager, and ultimately to the position of MD in the bank.
On the other hand, the IBPS SO will also get promotions but within their specific department. The scope for promotion is similar to IBPS PO, however, opportunities to be promoted into the senior managerial positions in the bank are few.
The work profile or job description of an IBPS PO and IBPS SO is very different from each other. This is one of the major differences in these two posts and also a crucial factor that affects your decision on which is the better career path for you.
Anyone applying for IBPS SO can also apply for IBPS PO but not everyone eligible for IBPS Po is also eligible for IBPS SO. Keeping this in mind, it is very important for aspirants to compare and contrast the advantages and work culture and its demands and then make an informed decision about which is the better segment. We have shared some details about the nature of the work, the culture, and the advantages associated with both IBPS SO and IBPS PO to simplify this choice further.
It is a hard decision to make between IBPS PO and IBPS SO as both have many advantages and disadvantages associated with them. Moreover, the job description is very different which makes the two not comparable at all. In the end, it all comes down to which factors you prioritize and see as an advantage.
The following table can give you a gist of the different factors that are often compared while choosing between the two.
|Factor to consider||IBPS PO||IBPS SO|
|Educational qualification||Anyone with a graduation degree can apply for this post.||Candidates with graduation and post-graduation degrees relevant to the SO posts are only eligible to apply.|
|Challenges and stress||It is a general banking service and hence the work schedule is challenging and hectic. Whether this is an advantage or disadvantage entirely depends on your perspective.||It is a very specific service related to one department in the bank and hence the job is not stressful or challenging. This also means it can get monotonous.|
|Promotion and growth||The scope for promotion and growth is high and faster.||The scope for promotion is limited unless you switch to general banking over the years.|
|Transfer frequency||Frequent transfer and posting in remote branches.||Fewer transfers and posting is always in an urban branch.|
|Role of academics||Your academic knowledge has little or no role to play in your career.||Your academic knowledge plays a vital role in prosperity throughout your career.|
|Preparation efforts||Preparation of the exam is more difficult as it has barely any relation to your academic career.||The preparation of the exam can be easy if you are still in touch with the studies related to your academic subject.|
|Job security||Job security is high.||Job security is high.|
|Communication Skills||Excellent communication skills are essential without which fast growth in career is difficult in this field.||Communication skills are not elemental for IBPS SO and hence, it will not hinder your prospects and growth.|
Check IBPS PO Practice Papers
When you compare and contrast all the features of IBPS PO and IBPS SO, you will note that in terms of growth and career opportunities, IBPS PO is more suitable. But if you prefer a less stressful job role which helps you to maintain a good and stable lifestyle, IBPS SO is more preferable. Irrespective of which one you choose, the preparation must always be done with full zeal. The IBPS exams 2020 are yet to commence and then you have all the opportunities needed for preparing for either of the exams. Hence, we hope you will make the most of the time and give your preparation the best shot!
Ques. If I am a graduate in geography, can I apply for IBPS SO?
Ans. No, the posts available through IBPS SO do not have any requirement of graduation is Geography. However, if you have a post-graduation degree or equivalent that is relevant to the available posts, you will be eligible to apply for IBPS SO. For example, a graduate in geography with post-graduation in marketing, or post-graduation in industrial relations or HR will become eligible for the relevant posts.
Ques. What is the age limit of applying for IBPS SO?
Ans. The minimum age to apply for IBPS SO is 20 years and the maximum age limit is 30 years. Reserved categories can get 3-10 years of age relaxation depending on which category they belong to.
Ques. Which is a better designation- IBPS SO or IBPS PO?
Ans. IBPS PO has better opportunities for growth within the banking industry hierarchy while IBPS SO offers a more sophisticated job role relevant to your field of study. It comes down to which one is more important to you.
Ques. Will I be transferred to rural areas if I am an IBPS SO?
Ans. IBPS SO is generally required and posted in the bank branches within metro cities and urban areas. However, if you are chosen for a post like Agricultural field Officer, you may have posting in rural branches of the bank too.
Ques. Do I have the flexibility of bank preference in IBPS SO?
Ans. Yes, just like IBPS PO, you can also select bank preferences in IBPS SO.
Ques. Is IBPS PO more difficult to crack than IBPS SO?
Ans. The syllabus of IBPS SO and PO Prelims overlaps largely, but in the case of mains, they are completely different. When you are preparing for IBPS SO, you have an extra edge regarding the syllabus as the subject is closely related to your graduation and post-graduation speciality. However, it comes down to how well you can prepare the syllabus for either exam and how far you are still in touch with your degree-program studies. If you are more confident about your degree course studies, you will find IBPS SO easier to crack.
Ques. Will my graduation specialization help in the job role of IBPS PO?
Ans. Irrespective of the graduation subject you had, the job role for IBPS PO remains the same for all. This means unless you are a graduate in commerce, or finance or economics, your degree-course subject will have little relevance to the job role that is designated to an IBPS PO.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.