Loan officer positions generally require a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or a related field. Banking, lending, or sales experience is highly valued by employers. Most employers also prefer applicants who are familiar with computers and their applications in banking. Loan officers without college degrees usually advance to their positions from other jobs in an organization after acquiring several years of work experience in various other occupations, such as teller or customer service representative. Personal qualities such as sales ability, good interpersonal and communication skills, and a strong desire to succeed also are important qualities for loan officers.
There are currently no specific licensing requirements for loan officers working in banks or credit unions. Training and licensing requirements for loan officers who work in mortgage banks or brokerages vary by State.
Various banking-related associations and private schools offer courses and programs for students interested in lending, as well as for experienced loan officers who want to keep their skills current. For example, the Bank Administration Institute, an affiliate of the American Banker’s Association, offers the Loan Review Certificate Program for persons who review and approve loans. This program enhances the quality of reviews and improves the early detection of deteriorating loans, thereby contributing to the safety and soundness of the loan portfolio. The Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation demonstrates the holder’s superior knowledge, understanding, and competency in real estate finance. The Mortgage Banking Association offers three CMB designations: residential, commerce, and master’s. To obtain the CMB, the candidate must have 3 years of experience, earn educational credits, and pass an exam. Completion of these courses and programs generally enhances one’s employment and advancement opportunities.
Persons planning a career as a loan officer should be capable of developing effective working relationships with others, confident in their abilities, and highly motivated. For public relations purposes, loan officers must be willing to attend community events as representatives of their employer.
Capable loan officers may advance to larger branches of the firm or to managerial positions, while less capable workers—and those having weak academic preparation—could be assigned to smaller branches and might find promotion difficult without obtaining training to upgrade their skills. Advancement beyond a loan officer position usually includes supervising other loan officers and clerical staff.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
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