Being a loan officer – is this the job for you?

A lot of our biggest moments in life need to be facilitated by a loan officer. Buying your first car? You'll need a loan. Going to college? You'll need a loan. Financing a home? You'll need a loan. Being a loan officer is one of the more interesting careers in finance a person can find – it's somewhat similar to accounting jobs, but it also requires top-quality communications skills, in addition to proficiency with numbers, and a focus on paperwork. Loan officers advise, approve, and evaluate loan options for people, businesses, and families. Taking out a loan can be a trying experience – it's the loan officers job to explain everything to the borrower in understandable terms, while also ensuring they're fully aware of the responsibility they're taking on.

The loan officer's job is to approve loans within specified limits, to meet with potential applicants, to explain the various different types of loans to customers, to obtain and compile credit histories of proposed borrowers, and to analyze the financial status of both the corporation and the individual – among other jobs. Basically, it's the officers job to make sure every single angle of a loan is proper, feasible, and legally approved, for both the lender and the borrower. 

Training varies among loan officers, because there are so many different extensions and subsections within the field. A commercial loan officer would need a bachelor's degree, but a mortgage loan officer may not, for example. However, the mortgage loan officer would absolutely need to be licensed by their respective municipality, and would likely be subject to a much more extensive period of on-the-job training. How you prepare for your work as a loan officer is entirely dependent on what type of loan officer you wish to become.

Pay for loan officers also fluctuates greatly – that's because, according to the U.S. & World News Report, most loan officers are paid via commission. The average salary for a loan officer in 2011 was around $58,000, according to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – but the top earners made well over six figures. According to the news source, within the loan industry, mortgage brokers tend to be the highest-paid – so you may want to brush up on your housing market jargon.