Loan officer jobs are more about using one's knowledge about finance effectively than playing a numbers game. Loan officers know what credit-worthiness, cash flow and lending risk means — and they use that understanding to assess the ability of organizations and individual borrowers to manage more debt.
A Day in the Life of a Loan Officer
A cup of coffee and a briefcase (or messenger bag) is exactly what a loan officer may tote to work. Their day can start off early, about 8 or 9 a.m. — like many other careers — and remain hectic all day after unlocking the office door. That could be an office door inside a bank, credit union or other type of financial institution. Loan officers typically keep bankers' hours, but may need to head in on Saturday if a bank or financial institution is open then. They also may work after-hours in their office or at home, organizing paperwork and preparing for the next day.
Administrative duties may include:
- Managing client phone and email communication
- Obtaining and processing important loan documentation such as tax records, insurance information and homeowners association agreements
- Assisting clientele as they sign loan documents
- Answering questions about a client's current loan, home equity line of credit or refinance
- Organizing loan files and maintaining appropriate office records
- Preparing borrower and real estate documentation for consideration by a loan committee
Business development and sales responsibilities may include:
- Finding and meeting with new or prospective clients
- Qualifying sales prospects and assessing credit-worthiness
- Helping clientele find the best interest rate and loan terms
- Explaining loan products and requirements
Important Characteristics for Loan Officers
The type of person suited for these loan officer jobs is organized, decisive and capable of seeing the big picture while they manage all the details of multiple loans at once. Although the work of a loan officer is based in finance at its core, people skills are of considerable importance in this career too.
A good loan officer takes the initiative to network and find new clients in their community. They also depend on their communication skills to explain and sell various types of loan products to borrowers or present borrowers for consideration to a loan committee. They capitalize on their knowledge of finance and keen decision-making skills to qualify a client's credit-worthiness and determine whether he or she is a solid candidate for more debt. For more complicated transactions, experience with legal documentation and even Excel spreadsheets may be helpful for loan officers who also work with attorneys, appraisers and loan committees to ensure legal, ethical and financial standards are met as the loan is processed.
Typical Steps for Becoming a Loan Officer
In order to become a loan officer, there are several steps that need to be taken, such as completing a degree and seeking licensing when required. Some financial institutions may provide their own version of loan officer training in addition. The process below outlines helpful steps when pursuing a career as a loan officer:
- Complete a bachelor's degree. This level of degree is the typical educational requirement needed to enter the field. People who have experience in the field may be able to circumvent this requirement in some cases. A bachelor's degree in an area like business or finance can help students learn the basics of business and accounting in order to analyze the financial position of a person or organization. Degree programs in the field can have many different names, such as the titles listed below:
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance
- Bachelor of Science in Finance
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- BS in Business Administration, Walden University, http://info.waldenu.edu/walden-programs/business-management/bachelors/b-s-in-business-administration, accessed September 2017
- Loan Officers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Loan-officers.htm, accessed September 2017
- Online BS in Finance, Southern New Hampshire University, http://degrees.snhu.edu/programs/bs-in-finance, accessed September 2017
- Professional Certification from ABA Institute of Certified Bankers, American Bankers Association, https://www.aba.com/Training/ICB/Pages/default.aspx, accessed September 2017