Loan officers facilitate lending to individuals or businesses by locating potential clients and then helping them apply for loans. They also gather information about clients to determine their ability to repay loans. They usually specialize in either commercial loans, which help companies purchase equipment or expand; consumer loans, which help individuals buy homes, cars, or other items; or mortgage loans, which help in the purchase or refinance of real estate. They often act as sales people, contacting companies and persuading them to take out a loan from the loan officer’s institution. The loan officer also guides the client through the process of applying for a loan, and analyzes and verifies the information on the application. Then, based on the information they’ve gathered, they determine whether or not to approve the client.
Loan officers should have well-developed interpersonal communication skills, and be willing to develop productive working relationships with others. Because of the sales involved in the occupation, they need to be very confident and highly motivated. They must be willing and able to publicly represent their establishment at community events.
In 2002, loan officers earned a median annual salary of $43,980. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $25,790, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $88,450. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of loan officers:
- Activities related to credit intermediation – $47,240
- Management of companies and enterprises – 46,420
- Nondepository credit intermediation – 44,770
- Depository credit intermediation – 41,450
Training and Education
Candidates seeking employment as loan officers are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or a similar field. Most will need to be familiar with computer banking applications. Training in sales can be particularly advantageous for commercial and mortgage loan officers. Some loan officers acquire their positions without college degrees, but they usually have several years of experience as tellers or customer service representatives. For bank or credit union loan officers, no licensing requirements exist, while mortgage bank and brokerage loan officers have licensing requirements that vary by State. Another training option is a course or program offered by a banking-related association or private school.
In 2002, loan officers held about 224,000 jobs. About 40% were employed by commercial banks, savings institutions, and credit unions. 33% were employed by mortgage and consumer finance companies.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of loan officers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Those who have a bachelor’s degree and experience in banking, lending, or sales will have the best opportunities for employment. Economic expansion and population increases will be offset by increased automation in the industry. Credit scoring has enabled loan officers to become much more efficient, and loan application over the Internet is expected to dramatically simplify the loan process. Job openings will also result from the need to replace workers who retire, switch careers, or leave the occupation for other reasons.