CHOOSING A CAREER / AUG. 16, 2014
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How to Become a Loan Officer

Credit gets kind of a bad rap these days. But credit isn’t just for buying things like iPhones and ski boats. Loans help people achieve some of life’s big dreams, like going to college or owning a home. Loan officers help make that happen. Those life changing decisions carry with them dedicated careers in the sector, such as Loan Officers.  

What does a loan officer do?

Loan Officers walk clients through the process of applying for and finalizing a loan. Tasks include:

  • Advising clients as to the best type of loan for their situation
  • Helping them figure out how much of a loan they can afford – and be approved for
  • Guiding clients through the application process
  • Making sure the clients understand the terms of the loan
  • Preparing, organizing, and filing paperwork

Where and when do loan officers work?

  • Some loan officers work in banks, credit unions, or mortgage companies with regular business hours
  • Some work at car dealerships and need to be available when customers need them, which often means nights and weekends

What do loan officers earn?

 

Low

Median

High

Loan officer

$32,600

$59,820

$119,710

 

Keep in mind that many loan officers also earn commission, which means the more loans they close, the more they earn. But that also mean that their incomes could vary widely from year to year. 

What skills do loan officers need?

Obtaining a loan can be stressful, and no one likes to hear that they’ve been turned down, so strong people skills are essential. Other important skills include:

  • Ability to make fact-based decisions
  • Ability to empathize with clients without letting emotions affect your decisions
  • Strong math and computer skills
  • Ability to explain complex financial matters in a simple way
  • Patience
  • Attention to detail
  • Trustworthiness
  • Sales skills

What training is required?

  • Loan officers need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, preferable in business, economics, accounting, or finance
  • Mortgage loan officers must be licensed. Licensure requires at least 20 hours of course work, a background and credit check, and an exam
  • Additional training takes place on the job, and loan advisors have to work constantly to maintain their skills and to stay abreast of industry, regulatory, and economic changes

What are the job prospects?

The need for loan advisors fluctuates with the economy. A strong economy means that people have money for down payments and feel secure enough about the future to be willing to spend money. In a bad economy, people tend to hold on to what money they have, so there are often fewer people applying for loans. On the other hand, a bad economy could increase the number of people who want to refinance their homes or take out a home equity loan. And there are always people who have money to spend, even in a bad economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the field will grow by 7.7 percent between now and 2022, adding almost 23,000 new positions in the next decade.

Being a loan officer can be a great job. On the good days, you get to help people realize their dreams. It’s also a career in which your income is largely dependent on your skills and on how hard you work. If you’re hard-working with lots of initiative, financially savvy, and have a desire to help people, being a loan officer could be a great career choice.

 

Photo Credit: freeimages

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