Loan Officer

Women walking with clipboard in front of house
Mortgage Bankers or Loan Officers are the face of the loan origination process. They personally work with retail and business clients to provide financing as part of a real estate transaction.

Mortgage Banker Career Information

Tommy Rosenthal is mortgage banker (also known as a loan officer) at USA Mortgage in St. Louis. For the last 13 years he has been one of the top ten mortgage originators in this Missouri city.

On an episode of he says, “A mortgage banker’s job is to originate or bring in loans to help people purchase or refinance houses… You either need to have a strong relationship with as many people as possible, meaning if they want to refinance, needing to fulfill their needs as far as finances and getting them approved for a loan. Or on a purchase of a home, needing to have referral sources, such as realtors, builders, etc., that send you business on a consistent basis in order to originate new loans”.

The biggest purchase most of us will ever make is buying a home or a commercial property.
Mortgage Bankers or Loan Officers are “the face of the loan process” meaning they personally work with clients getting ready to make this big purchase by helping them secure a loan. As a result mortgage bankers must have a varied skill set balanced between sales, financial knowledge and relationship building.

Rosenthal adds that if you are passionate when it comes to sales, want to potentially earn a high income and do not fit the 9-5 mold, then a mortgage banker career may be the job for you. “You get to be really successful, people like you and come to you and you have the freedoms to be with your friends and family and do other activities as well [since you can have a flexible schedule],” shares Rosenthal. That being said, to be successful loan officer/mortgage banker, you have to have drive and work hard, get out from behind your desk to meet potential clients or those who can refer clients, and find creative ways to successfully “pick up business”.

Loan Officer Job Description

Mortgage loan officers may work for commercial banks, mortgage companies or other related financial institutions. They often leave their office to meet with clients in their homes or places of business. Examples of specific job duties that pertain to a mortgage banker’s job description include:

  • Constantly seek out potential clients through networking with those who can provide referrals, such as real estate and development companies, existing clients, financial planners and more.
  • Meet clients to find out exactly what their real estate goals are, collect pertinent information and answer any questions they have.
  • Explain the different loan options to clients and guiding them through the application process.
  • Analyze clients’ finances to see if they qualify for a loan or pass this task onto a loan underwriter.
  • Close the loans if the applications are approved.

Degree Recommendations

What all successful mortgage bankers/loan officers have in common is a knack for sales and people skills (as well as the ability to learn and understand financial concepts such as credit scores). They thus can come from a variety of educational backgrounds. A university degree is not mandatory to being a mortgage banker, and in some cases a high school grad may land a career if they’re especially impressive on the interview and have related experience.

Completing some college or university education can help prepare you for this career and also help you stand out from other applicants. Numerous colleges offer associate degree or certificate programs specifically in Mortgage Banking. Some universities also offer Bachelor’s of Finance degrees with the option of specializing in related areas such as real estate or financial services.

Finally, as you will see in the licensure section below, for obtaining and maintaining your mandatory license, you generally must complete some pre-licensure and continuing education courses. The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) which administers licensing for mortgage bankers/loan originators has a list of approved educational institutes.

NMLS Licensing

Visit The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) website to find out about the exact process of becoming a licensed mortgage banker. You must become both nationally and state licensed which each involves completing an exam. Each state has their own educational pre-requisites that you must complete to be eligible to write the test and their own particular regulations regarding continuing education to maintain your license. Click here to find out the state specific requirements. In addition to meeting educational requirements and passing exams, you must go through a background and credit check.

Mortgage Banker Salary

Salary & Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, salary & job outlook for Loan Officers:

  • Job Outlook: 14% (2010-2020)
  • Median Salary: $56,490/year (2010)

According to Mortgage Banker, Tommy Rosenthal, mortgage banking is very much a high-end sales position, but not in a “pushy used car salesman” kind of way. It’s about developing relationships and finding the best loan option for clients looking to buy real estate. As far as income, “There is no cap on your income. So you work hard and do well in whatever field it is – mortgage banking or any other sales – the sky is the limit as far as your income”, shares Rosenthal.