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How to Become a Loan Officer

Are you detail oriented and have strong interpersonal skills? Do you have excellent communication skills and a desire to help others fulfill their dreams?  A career as a loan officer might be the perfect fit for you.

A loan officer typically works for banks or other financial institutions where they process loan applications for customers. They assess the eligibility of the customer based on the application and may request further documentation as needed. They typically handle various types of loan applications, including home, auto, and business loans. They perform a risk analysis to determine whether to approve loans or not. Loan officers must stay current on applicable state and federal lending regulations. 

Loan officers should have an intermediate level of proficiency in using computers and relevant banking software as well as a good understanding of lending products and practices. To excel as a loan officer, you will need excellent verbal and written communication skills, good customer service skills, and attention to detail. 

Sample job description

The role of the loan officer is to guide our clients to a smooth and timely closing. If you excel in a fast-paced environment, learn quickly, and are interested in a fun/lucrative career – we are interested in you! As an ideal candidate, you will have proven experience managing different types of loans, including home loans, business loans, and individual loans, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Manages the staff that does the paperwork for mortgage applications
  • Verifies information provided on applications and requests more information if needed
  • Meets with customers and helps them choose the best mortgage loan they can afford
  • Collects data from customers, such as assets, salaries, debts, and employment status
  • Verifies applicant history with credit bureaus and other agencies so the lender can approve or deny the loan
  • Informs customers of loan application deadlines
  • Evaluates credit worthiness by processing loan applications and documentation

Education and experience

  • An associate’s degree in banking and finance
  • A bachelor’s degree in finance or economics is beneficial
  • Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license  
  • 2+ years of experience in the mortgage lending, banking, or real estate industry

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience using mortgage loan/banking software 
  • Strong sales and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills 
  • Ongoing knowledge of federal, state, and local loan processing laws and regulations
  • Intermediate Microsoft Office skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work both in a team and independently

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience performing business development tasks, including generating leads and referral business, and maintaining relationships with existing and past clients
  • Experience using relevant industry-specific computer programs 
  • NMLS license

Typical work environment

Loan officers work in offices, usually in banks or other financial institutions. They schedule appointments, meet with multiple clients every day, pursue leads, and reach out to prospective clients about obtaining a loan. Part of the day involves reviewing the different loan terms their financial institution offers and preparing information about interest rates and payment plans.   

Typical hours

Loan officers typically work a regular 40 hour week from Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM. They might work overtime occasionally to meet critical deadlines.

Available certifications

Loan officers work in a variety of industries. Here are some of the top certifications you can earn: 

  • Commercial Certified Mortgage Servicer (CCMS). The CCMS designation, offered by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), recognizes a mortgage professional’s knowledge and experience in servicing practices, theories, and applications of the commercial mortgage servicing industry. Qualifications include industry education, commercial experience, commitment to the industry, and participation in the MBA. The CCMS tests your knowledge in lending, operations and asset management, servicing company valuation, markets and investment, and legal and regulatory.
  • Residential Certified Mortgage Servicer (RCMS). The RCMS is a comprehensive program for professionals in the residential mortgage industry and is made up of 3 levels. Level 1 is for entry-level up to 1 year of experience. For level 2, one to two years of industry experience is recommended and 2+ years for level 3. Level 1 covers mortgage basics. Level 2 includes bank reconciliation, cash management, and corporate accounting. Level 3 topics include bankruptcy essentials, conventional loan recovery, and insurance servicing. Upon completion of all three levels, you will have earned your RCMS.
  • Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP). Upon graduation from MBA Education’s School of Mortgage Banking (SOMB), you become an Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP). This credential demonstrates your achievements in the real estate finance industry and your pursuit of educational excellence, high ethical standards, and commitment to professionalism. The SOMB is a comprehensive development program consisting of three courses. You learn all aspects of mortgage lending, from fundamental concepts to strategic planning. The AMP designates you as a highly trained real estate finance professional.

Career path

Commercial loan officers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, accounting, or a related business field. Mortgage loan officers need a mortgage loan originator license by passing an exam, completing at least 20 hours of coursework, and undergoing background and credit checks. Licensed loan officers typically gain experience on the job, acquiring knowledge of different types of loans and the required information and documentation needed to process them. Loan officers need excellent customer service skills, computer skills, and need to be detailed-oriented to be successful. At larger banks and financial institutions, loan officers can advance to supervisory positions such as office supervisors or managers. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 13-2072

2020 Employment322,100
Projected Employment in 2022326,400
Projected 2019-2029 Percentage Shift 1% increase
Projected 2019-2029 Numeric Shift4,300 increase

The mortgage loan industry is moving toward integrating services and offering home buyers a more cohesive experience. By combining every part of the real estate transaction, including home buying and mortgage lending, companies can become a one-stop shop, offering comprehensive and seamless service to home buyers and those looking to refinance.

As more and more business is being done using FaceTime, Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools, mortgage lenders are conducting virtual open houses and showings and providing on-demand service from anywhere. Texting is also replacing phone and email as the preferred way to communicate with buyers. 

Digital mortgages are not very far away. Borrowers are still a bit reluctant to do the entire process online without talking to a real person, but the tide is shifting as you can now buy a home online, get a loan online, handle your healthcare and investments online, and do all your work online.