|Number of Jobs:||41,000|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#13|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#65|
Financing a college education. Buying a first car. Purchasing a dream home. Loan officers are often part of the supporting cast that witness the most monumental moments in our lives. “I once did a loan, and decided to go to the settlement. And the lady [purchasing the home] walked in with her son, who had on a suit and tie. She herself was dressed up in a full-length gown with a headdress,” recalls Frank Donnelly, the president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Metropolitan D.C. “And she said it was because she wanted to show her son how important it was to buy a house. When you do this day in and day out, you can sometimes forget about what a big deal this is to people.”
Loan officers are the people who advise, evaluate, and authorize loans to people and businesses, and they work in a range of settings, including commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and car dealerships. Their profession involves a lot of paperwork and managing logistics, and also requires extraordinary interpersonal skills. Borrowing money can be a nerve-wracking experience, and a loan officer should make his or her clients feel at ease in the process, while still educating them on their decision. “I like to meet with customers face to face,” Donnelly says. “Especially the first-time buyers. ... I tell them, ‘I don’t want you to be a first-time buyer the second time around.’ When buying their first house, it’s my job to make sure that they come to their next purchasing decision with more knowledge and wherewithal for the process.”
The need for loan officers is related to the ever-changing economy, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this profession will grow as our markets recuperate. Between 2010 and 2020, an expected 41,000 new loan officers will join the workforce.
The pay scale for evaluating, originating, and approving loans varies broadly. The average salary for a loan officer working in 2011 was $58,030, according to the BLS. Top earners made a lucrative $115,450, while those in the bottom 10-percentile earned about $32,110. According to Donnelly, many loan officers receive their pay from commission. So their earnings could fluctuate markedly year to year. Mortgage brokers tend to be the best-compensated in the industry, as are those who process auto loans. Big cities, such as New York City and San Francisco, pay the top salaries.
Training and licensing requirements vary depending on what type of loan officer you become. For example, a commercial loan officer would need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a business-related field like finance, economics, or accounting. A mortgage loan officer might not require a college diploma, but he or she would need a license. Additional training would take place on the job.
Donnelly says the best loan officers are tenacious salesmen and women, particularly since many are 100 percent paid on commission. In addition: “It’s great to be detail-oriented because loans today have so many data elements,” he notes. “You need to be good at following up, at communicating with your clients. ... And you need discipline.” Loan officers should also learn good customer-service skills, which could lead to more business in the future. “Focus on doing a great job so you can get referrals, and treat people fairly,” Donnelly suggests.