CHOOSING A CAREER / NOV. 21, 2014
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How to Become a Credit Analyst in the US

Credit analysts play a crucial role in ensuring banks lend money to the right customers. They assess the credit worthiness of loan applicants and establish whether they are qualified to receive the amount of money they are requesting. If you are a competent decision-maker with top notch attention to detail and analytical skills, credit analysis is a career you could enjoy.

What Do Credit Analysts Do?

Credit analysts perform many duties including:

  • Collect data on clients’ past financial and credit histories
  • Analyze the data to establish the level of risk the lender is getting into
  • Write reports on the findings and provide recommendations to the credit manager
  • Submitting qualified loan applications to the loan committee for approval
  • Use computer software to generate financial ratios to establish the client’s financial status
  • Mentoring and training new staff

Work Environment

Credit analysts typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They may work overtime when there are several loan applications awaiting evaluation.

Credit analysts mostly spend their time either in offices reviewing paperwork or on the road meeting clients.

Salary

The table below shows top paying sectors for credit analysts in the US:

Industry

Annual mean wage

Investment Pools and Funds

$87,280

Monetary Authorities-Central Bank

$89,810

Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage

$104,730

Financial Investment Activities

$110,020

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

Aspiring credit analysts must usually earn a bachelor’s degree to find employment. Although many analysts hold degrees in finance, you can enter the profession with a background in any of the following fields:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics

These courses cover topics such as ratio analysis, calculus, industry assessment and financial statement analysis, all which are used in credit analysis.

If you have an associate degree in the fields listed above, you could begin as a credit assistant and work your way up to credit analyst with increased experience.

Important Skills and Abilities

To become a successful credit analyst, you should have:

  • Strong math and analytical skills
  • Good written and presentation skills
  • A detailed knowledge of company products and services
  • A sense of social perceptiveness
  • Good negotiation skills
  • The ability to make accurate judgments and profitable decisions
  • The ability to work calmly under pressure
  • The ability work as part of a team and as an individual

Career Development

There are career progression opportunities available to credit analysts who obtain advanced business degrees and professional certifications. As such, you should:

  • Work towards a master’s degree in either business administration or finance.
  • Seek certification from the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. This qualification won’t come easy though. You will need to have at least four years’ experience and pass a three-part examination.

Other professional organizations that offer relevant certifications include:

  • The National Association of Credit Management
  • The Risk Management Association

Job Opportunities

Credit analysts work for the following institutions:

  • Commercial banks
  • Investment banks
  • Credit card issuing institutions
  • Credit ranking agencies
  • Investment companies

After getting certified, earning a master’s degree and gaining vast experience, the most logical step is to work towards becoming a credit manager.

Lastly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent job growth for all financial analysts between 2012 and 2022. Given that the average growth for all occupations is 11 percent, credit analysts have good job prospects. Nonetheless, competition for employment places will be strong. To stand out from the pack, it is advisable to focus on obtaining a graduate degree.

However, if you feel that you have the right skills and attributes then this might be the right career for you.

 

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