Loan officers held about 296,900 jobs in 2012, of which 84 percent were in the credit intermediation and related activities industry. This includes commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions.
Loan officers who specialize in consumer loans usually work in offices. Mortgage and commercial loan officers often work outside the office and meet with clients at their homes or businesses.
Most loan officers work full time.
Most loan officers need a bachelor’s degree and receive on-the-job training. Mortgage loan officers must be licensed.
Loan officers typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in a field such as business or finance. Because commercial loan officers analyze the finances of businesses applying for credit, they need to understand general business accounting, including how to read financial statements.
Some loan officers may be able to enter the occupation without a bachelor’s degree if they have related work experience, such as in sales, customer service, or banking.
Once hired, loan officers usually receive some on-the-job training. This may be a combination of formal, company-sponsored training and informal training during the first few months on the job. Those who use underwriting software often take classes to learn the company’s software programs.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Mortgage loan officers must have a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license. To become licensed, mortgage loan officers must complete at least 20 hours of coursework, pass an exam, and submit to background and credit checks. Licenses must be renewed annually, and individual states may have additional requirements.
Several banking associations and schools offer courses or certifications for loan officers. The American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association both offer certification and training programs for loan officers. Although not required, certification shows dedication and expertise and thus may enhance a candidate’s employment opportunities.
Employers may prefer candidates who have work experience in lending, banking, sales, or customer service. For those without a bachelor’s degree, work experience in a related field can be particularly useful.
Loan officers typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a loan officer, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Loan officers should also possess the following specific qualities:
Decision-making skills. Decision-making skills are important for loan officers, who must assess an applicant’s financial information and decide whether to award a loan.
Initiative. Loan officers need to have initiative when seeking out clients. They often act as salespeople, promoting their lending institution and contacting firms to determine their loan needs.
Interpersonal skills. Because loan officers work with people, they must be able to guide customers through the application process and answer their questions.
The median annual wage for loan officers was $59,820 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,600, and the top 10 percent earned more than $119,710.
The form of compensation varies widely by employer. Some loan officers are paid a flat salary; others are paid on commission. Those on commission usually are paid a base salary plus a commission for the loans they originate. Loan officers also may receive extra commission or bonuses based on the number of loans they originate or how well the loans do.
Most loan officers work full time.
Employment of loan officers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for loan officers fluctuates with the economy, generally increasing in times of economic growth, low interest rates, and population growth—all of which create demand for loans.
After a period of decreased lending resulting from the recent recession, banks and other lending institutions are granting an increasing number of loans to people and businesses. Because lending activity is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, consumer and mortgage loans are expected to increase as the economy recovers. Similarly, many businesses postponed borrowing funds for maintenance, improvement, and expansion during the recession, so commercial loans should increase as businesses are more willing to borrow and banks are more willing to lend.
However, growth in the number of jobs is expected to be tempered by the expanded use of loan underwriting software, which has made the loan application process much faster than in the past. Some loan applications can be completed online and underwritten automatically, allowing loan officers to process more applications in a much shorter period of time. This factor may limit the number of new loan officers needed in the future, despite an increasing number of loan applications.
Prospects for loan officers should improve over the coming decade as lending activity rebounds from the recent recession. Job opportunities should be good for those with lending, banking, or sales experience. In addition, some firms require loan officers to find their own clients, so candidates with established contacts and a referral network should have the best job opportunities.
For more information about certification and training for loan officers, visit
For more information about a career as a mortgage loan officer, visit
For more information about licensing for mortgage loan officers, visit
State bankers associations have specific information about job opportunities in their state. Also, individual banks can supply information about job openings and the activities, responsibilities, and preferred qualifications of their loan officers.