Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Loan Officer

Job Description:

Loan officers use a process called underwriting to determine if applicants – both individuals and businesses – qualify for loans, often by using a combination of manually calculating an applicant’s ability to pay back the loan and using underwriting software. Common types of loan officers include mortgage loan officers; loan collection officers; commercial loan officers, who specialize in business loans; and consumer loan officers, who deal with loans to people. These professionals explain to customers the different types of loans and credit options that are available to them, review and update credit and loan files, and gather copies of loan applicants’ credit histories and other financial information.

Loan officers need at least a high school diploma. However, some positions, such as in commercial loans, require a bachelor's degree in business, economics, finance, or a related field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Loan officers typically receive on-the-job training in the company's underwriting software within the first few months of their employment. Mortgage loan officers must have the Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license, which requires the completion of 20 hours of course work, passing score on an exam, and a background and credit check.
Median Salary:
Loan officers earned a mean annual salary of $63,540 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The bottom 10% of earners were paid $30,850, while those in the 90th percentile made $106,360 as of May 2012. Some loan officers are paid a flat salary, and others receive commission on the loans they originate and how well those loans do. The best-paying states for loan officers are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and California, the BLS reports.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 14% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

For loan officers, job growth is generally dependent on the ebb and flow of the economy. Loan officers tend to be more in-demand when the economy and population are growing, and when borrowers can take advantage of low interest rates. As a result of many businesses finally starting to bounce back after the recession, lenders are expect to continue in a more generous direction. By overwhelming majority, 86% of loan officers are currently in the credit intermediation and related activities industry, which includes commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions, according to the BLS. Competition in this field is expected to remain high, as an increase in online and automated loan technology may pose a growing threat to real live professionals, however the future looks bright for qualified loan officers who are up-to-date on the latest technological advances in their occupation, and open to possibly incorporating these new innovations.

Continuing Education:

While mortgage loan officers must be certified, loan officers are not required, only strongly encouraged, to pursue certification in order to show commitment and dedication to their profession. Once certified, loan officers must maintain their status by completing a minimum of continuing education course work each year. The Mortgage Bankers Association offers program information and education options for those considering certification. Students of the loan officer continuing education program for the state of Texas at Kaplan University, for instance, may study Federal Trade Commission rules and regulations, fraud detection, ethics, loan anatomy, and various types of loans, among other topics. Loan officers looking to show potential employers that they have a desire to go above-and-beyond the minimum standards of this industry would do well to pursue continuing education, as well as professional experience, to enhance their qualifications.