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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

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Loan Officer

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Loan Officer jobs , as of 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 17,470 $82,930
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 9,300 $81,310
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 8,510 $68,060
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 5,840 $98,290
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 5,520 $97,280
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 4,620 $80,900
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 4,570 $51,650
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 4,150 $94,450
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 4,020 $77,160
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 3,970 $82,500

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to loan officers

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Loan Officer

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Banking And Credit 284,610 88% $53,850
Business Management 10,690 3% $58,100
Real Estate 4,890 1% $60,910
Government 4,810 1% $67,360
Insurance 4,640 1% $56,970
Securities And Investment 4,440 1% $64,090
Professional And Technical Services 3,620 1% $60,010
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