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Become A Loan Originator

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Working As A Loan Originator

  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Loan Originator Do

Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. 

Duties

Loan officers typically do the following:

  • Contact companies or people to ask if they need a loan
  • Meet with loan applicants to gather personal information and answer questions
  • Explain different types of loans and the terms of each one to applicants
  • Obtain, verify, and analyze the applicant’s financial information, such as the credit rating and income level
  • Review loan agreements to ensure that they comply with federal and state regulations
  • Approve loan applications or refer them to management for a decision

Loan officers use a process called underwriting to assess whether applicants qualify for loans. After collecting and verifying all the required financial documents, the loan officer evaluates the information they obtain to determine the applicant’s need for a loan and ability to pay back the loan. Most firms use underwriting software, which produces a recommendation for the loan based on the applicant’s financial status. After the underwriting software produces a recommendation, loan officers review the output of the software and consider any additional information to make a final decision.

The work of loan officers has sizable customer-service and sales components. Loan officers often answer questions and guide customers through the application process. In addition, many loan officers must market the products and services of their lending institution and actively solicit new business. 

The following are common types of loan officers:

Commercial loan officers specialize in loans to businesses, which often use the loans to buy supplies and upgrade or expand operations. Commercial loans frequently are larger and more complicated than other types of loans. Because companies have such complex financial situations and statements, commercial loans usually require human judgment in addition to the analysis by underwriting software. Furthermore, some commercial loans are so large that no single bank will provide the entire amount requested. In such cases, loan officers may have to work with multiple banks to put together a package of loans. 

Consumer loan officers specialize in loans to people. Consumers take out loans for many reasons, such as buying a car or paying college tuition. For some simple consumer loans, the underwriting process is fully automated. However, the loan officer is still needed to guide applicants through the process and to handle cases with unusual circumstances. Some institutions—usually small banks and credit unions—do not use underwriting software and instead rely on loan officers to complete the underwriting process manually.

Mortgage loan officers specialize in loans used to buy real estate (property and buildings), which are called mortgage loans. Mortgage loan officers work on loans for both residential and commercial properties. Often, mortgage loan officers must seek out clients, which requires developing relationships with real estate companies and other sources that can refer prospective applicants. 

Within these three fields, some loan officers specialize in a particular part of the loan process:

Loan collection officers contact borrowers who fail to make their loan payments on time. They work with borrowers to help them find a way to keep paying off the loan. If the borrower continues to miss payments, loan officers start the process of taking away what the borrower used to secure the loan (called “collateral”)—often a home or car—and selling it to repay the loan. 

Loan underwriters specialize in evaluating whether a client is creditworthy. They collect, verify, and evaluate the client’s financial information provided on their loan applications and then use loan underwriting software to produce recommendations.

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How To Become A Loan Originator

Most loan officers need a bachelor’s degree and receive on-the-job training. Mortgage loan officers must be licensed.

Education

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 experience in sales, customer service, or banking. 

Training

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Mortgage loan officers must have a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license. To become licensed, they 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, including the American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association, as well as a number of schools, offer courses, training programs, or certifications for loan officers. Although not required, certification shows dedication and expertise and thus may enhance a candidate’s employment opportunities. 

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Loan officers must assess an applicant’s financial information and decide whether to award the applicant a loan. 

Detail oriented. Each piece of information on an application can have a major effect on the profitability of a loan, meaning that loan officers must pay attention to detail.

Initiative. Loan officers need to seek out new clients. They often act as salespeople, promoting their lending institution and contacting firms to determine their need for a loan.

Interpersonal skills. Because loan officers work with people, they must be able to guide customers through the application process and answer their questions.

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Loan Originator Career Paths

Loan Originator
Loan Officer Account Executive Account Manager
Director, Inside Sales
6 Yearsyrs
Loan Officer Underwriter
Underwriting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Loan Officer Account Executive Sales Manager
Branch Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Loan Processor Underwriter Branch Manager
Senior Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Loan Processor Underwriter Account Manager
Commercial Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Loan Processor Specialist Credit Analyst
Credit Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Manager Assistant Vice President
Commercial Lending Vice President
11 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Consultant Senior Loan Officer Vice President
Vice President And Portfolio Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Consultant Consultant Regional Sales Manager
Vice President & Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Consultant Senior Loan Officer Assistant Branch Manager
Finance Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Broker Senior Loan Officer Assistant Branch Manager
Banking Center Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Real Estate Agent Specialist Credit Analyst
Credit And Collection Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Banker Senior Account Executive Relationship Manager
Business Relationship Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Loan Processor Credit Analyst Assistant Branch Manager
Bank Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Processor Loan Servicing Specialist Consumer Loan Underwriter
Lending Services Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Real Estate Agent Executive Assistant Realtor
Real Estate Management Specialist
7 Yearsyrs
Leasing Agent Resident General Dentist
Lead Generator
5 Yearsyrs
Processor Operations Specialist Solution Specialist
Business Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Mortgage Broker 4.0 years
Loan Administrator 3.5 years
Loan Officer 3.1 years
Loan Originator 3.0 years
Loan Processor 2.7 years
Loan Coordinator 2.6 years
Loan Assistant 2.6 years
Mortgage Banker 2.4 years
Loan Consultant 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Loan Originator
Loan Officer 14.1%
Manager 4.4%
Owner 3.7%
Cashier 3.4%
Realtor 2.6%
Top Careers After Loan Originator
Loan Officer 12.0%
Owner 5.1%
Manager 4.4%
Cashier 3.7%
Realtor 2.7%

Do you work as a Loan Originator?

Loan Originator Demographics

Gender

Male

49.0%

Female

42.8%

Unknown

8.2%
Ethnicity

White

62.3%

Hispanic or Latino

16.1%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.1%

French

8.4%

Mandarin

3.9%

Russian

3.2%

Arabic

3.2%

Chinese

2.6%

Armenian

1.9%

Italian

1.9%

Carrier

1.9%

Portuguese

1.9%

German

1.9%

Japanese

1.9%

Polish

1.9%

Hindi

1.3%

Thai

1.3%

Serbian

1.3%

Cantonese

1.3%

Romanian

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Blackfoot

0.6%
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Loan Originator Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

28.7%

Arizona State University

5.7%

Kaplan University

5.3%

Ashford University

4.8%

Michigan State University

4.2%

DePaul University

3.9%

University of Houston

3.7%

University of Florida

3.7%

University of Memphis

3.7%

University of North Florida

3.5%

University of Alabama

3.5%

Liberty University

3.5%

Ohio State University

3.5%

University of Central Florida

3.3%

Strayer University

3.3%

Western Michigan University

3.3%

Pennsylvania State University

3.3%

University of South Florida

3.1%

American InterContinental University

3.1%

Towson University

2.9%
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Majors

Business

38.1%

Finance

9.5%

Accounting

6.6%

Marketing

5.4%

Real Estate

5.3%

Management

4.6%

Communication

3.4%

Psychology

3.3%

General Studies

2.8%

Education

2.7%

Criminal Justice

2.7%

Economics

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.1%

Political Science

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.8%

Legal Support Services

1.7%

Computer Science

1.6%

Elementary Education

1.6%

English

1.5%

Human Resources Management

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.9%

Other

30.7%

Associate

10.6%

Masters

9.3%

Certificate

4.0%

License

1.5%

Diploma

1.3%

Doctorate

0.7%
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Top Skills for A Loan Originator

  1. Loan Applications
  2. Financial Statements
  3. Real Estate
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Generated residential, commercial, and investment loan applications by analyzing financial information and qualifying clients to meet specific underwriting guidelines.
  • Analyzed individual credit data and financial statements to gauge creditworthiness of applicants seeking home mortgages.
  • Processed all necessary paperwork upon interface with real estate and legal representatives.
  • Provided exemplary customer service to both internal staff and external customer by explaining credit decision and offering alternative options when needed.
  • Recommended loan approvals and denials based on customer loan application reviews.

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