Becoming a loan officer can be quite a rewarding experience. Not only is it a high-paying, blue-collar job, but you’ll get to walk people through many “firsts”— first car, first house, first college experience. Because of that, there’s a constant flow of excitement in this profession that will provide you with a sense of fulfillment from being able to make a positive impact on your clients.

Consumer loans are for automobiles, home equity, and personal loans. Commercial loans assist big companies to expand their businesses and buy more equipment. Mortgage loans are for those who want to purchase real estate or refinance a home. Loan officers primarily work in these three categories. Continue reading to get the full scope of the process of becoming a loan officer.

Evaluate Yourself

Talking with people about personal finance and other important matters will be a weekly, if not daily, activity for a loan officer. So, being outgoing and social are some of the most useful qualities. Many of your clients will be the result of a referral, so people skills are a must-have.

As a loan officer, you’ll be handling sensitive information about possible borrowers, compiling and organizing it, and sending it to lenders. It’s crucial that all the steps leading up to a loan are carefully executed to avoid any mishaps. Traits like being organized and detail-oriented are essential without much room for error.

Being a life-long learner is beneficial no matter what job you choose, but to be a loan officer it’s another non-negotiable. You’ll need to stay up to date on the ever-evolving world of mortgage lending. A willingness to learn new things, and to do so frequently, is a highly valued personal quality.

Earn a High School Diploma, Consider a Four-Year Degree

A high school diploma or equivalent is needed, and while a four-year degree is preferred, it is by no means necessary to become a loan officer. One of these requirements is a  bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, business, or a related field will give you a leg-up on the competition.

Many community colleges offer courses in real-estate fundamentals such as real-estate math, marketing, finance, sales, and real-estate fraud. These programs will earn students a mortgage loan originator certification.

Courses like Communications or Psychology can also equip you with many interpersonal and communication skills that will give you the tools you need to be effective. Loan officers must deliver well-articulated responses to questions and guide clients through complicated applications, so these are applicative courses to take.

Get Some Job Experience

Gaining experience in jobs that have similar responsibilities is preferred by most employers, especially if you are not a degree holder. Jobs such as banking, sales, and customer service are particularly helpful for individuals that are trying to break into the field in that they do not require a degree and will look good on your resume.

Obtain Your Loan Officer Certification

A certification is a requirement that varies by state. All states will need you to put in 20 hours of education, but some will require more. You’ll have to pass an exam at the end, but it doesn’t end there. You’ll need to continue educational requirements to retain your license.

In this field, where personal financial information about clients is being transferred between you and other possible lenders, a solid character is vital and necessary. You’ll have to pass a criminal background check, and no certifications can be given to someone with a record of felonies.

Your criminal background isn’t the only thing that matters – bad credit, history, unpaid debts, or foreclosure will also weaken your chances of getting certified and are just cause for rejection. Also, keep in mind that if you’ve been rejected in another state for any reason, then this is also grounds for rejection.

These measures are taken so that clients can rest assured that some of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make will be handled with trusted hands. If there are any marks on your criminal or credit history, then you may have to consider a different field.

If you have the proper education and experience, then this process should prove to be rather easy for you. Once you have passed the exam, gone through the pre-licensure education courses, and sent off all of your documents to the National Mortgage Licensing Service, you’ll be on your way to a career as a loan officer. Remember to always do your research of the certification requirements for your state before you begin the process.

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