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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:

  1. 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
  2. Seek job opportunities. With more than 300,000 people working as loan officers in the U.S. in 2014, (BLS.gov), there may be many opportunities to find a job, including with a commercial bank, credit union, mortgage company or other type of financial institution. Typically, on-the-job-loan-officer training is required for a short period once a loan officer is hired.
  3. Seek certification if desired. Certification is not necessary to work in the field, but both the American Bankers Association (ABA) and the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA) provide options. A specific number of years of experience and passing an exam is typically required for certification.
  4. Pursue licensing. State licensure is needed only for those who want to become a mortgage loan officer (MLO). Generally, 20 hours of coursework approved by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) is needed and applicants also have to pass an exam. Loan officer training requirements vary state by state, but usually these licenses need to be renewed every year.

Sources:

  • 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

Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be loan officer education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening44
Speaking44
Reading Comprehension3.884
Judgment and Decision Making3.883.88
Critical Thinking3.754

Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be loan officer education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension44.12
Oral Expression44.38
Speech Clarity3.883.38
Speech Recognition3.753.62
Written Comprehension3.754

Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be loan officer education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.635.47
Economics and Accounting3.913.96
English Language3.894.25
Mathematics3.744.42
Sales and Marketing3.534.43

Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being loan officer education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Getting Information4.674.61
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.385.04
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.384.37
Interacting With Computers4.343.18
Processing Information4.274.04

Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being loan officer education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Integrity4.66
Stress Tolerance4.41
Attention to Detail4.41
Achievement/Effort4.34
Dependability4.34

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Loan Officer Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim16,820 $79,100
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington8,060 $89,350
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale7,240 $71,500
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward6,400 $91,570
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach5,340 $83,010
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn4,330 $63,010
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land4,280 $95,940
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell4,100 $77,690
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood4,070 $67,880
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue3,990 $81,120

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Loan Officers

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to loan officers

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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