Although a primary job duty of loan processors is to get personal and financial information from loan applicants, they also explain the many loan options available to customers and assist them with filling out forms. Along with verifying that the information they collect is accurate, loan processors calculate and advise applicants about interest rates, monthly payments and loan closing costs. They work for financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions and mortgage companies.
Getting the Right Education
While some employers will accept a minimum education of a high school diploma or equivalent for an entry-level loan processor position, many require an associate degree in banking, finance, business administration, accounting or a related field. Individuals who want to advance in their careers can access better opportunities by earning a bachelor's degree. A degree in banking focuses on fundamentals such as money management, lending practices and banking law.
Acquiring the Know-How
The job of a loan processor requires proficient math, computer and office skills. Additional training in information processing, computer applications and mortgage loan processing, usually offered at community colleges and technical schools, helps individuals develop the skills they need. Certificate programs offer courses related to loan underwriting principles, credit counseling and basic appraisal principles. Courses in real estate fundamentals, credit policies, and fraud awareness and prevention also are helpful.
Training for the Job
On-the-job training for loan processors includes developing effective interpersonal communication and organizational skills, working with specialized computer software, and learning how to keep accurate records. Because much of the job is learned by working it, some employers will accept work experience in as banking, sales or customer service in place of higher education. During training, loan processors learn how to conduct interviews with applicants and process loans from start to finish.
Advancing in the Field
Becoming a certified loan processor can lead to career advancement. Although the American Bankers Association and Mortgage Bankers Association offer training and certification, loan officers working in the mortgage industry must be licensed by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. State governments grant licensing authority but manage it through the NMLS. To become a state-licensed mortgage loan officer, an individual must submit to a criminal background check, complete the required courses, successfully pass the exam and have a satisfactory credit report.
Prospects and Pay
While the need for loan processors fluctuates with the economy, growth in this sector of the job market is limited by the increased use of automated loan processing. Pay varies by employer. Some employers pay loan officers a fixed salary; some pay a commission; and others pay a base salary plus a commission. In May 2012, the nation's loan officers earned a median annual salary of $59,820, while the lowest 10 percent earned $32,600 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.