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What is a Loan Officer? A Look into the Career

By DeVry University

July 5, 2023

8 min read

What is a loan officer? In the context of real estate, a loan officer (sometimes referred to as a mortgage loan officer) typically works for a lender such as a bank or credit union. When consumers are looking to buy a home, they will get in touch with a real estate agent to help them find one that fits their needs and may work with a mortgage banker to help them finance the purchase. The banker will then often work with a loan officer to find options that will fit their client’s budget.


There are other types of loan officers who originate many different types of loans for consumers and businesses, but a mortgage loan officer is exclusively licensed to originate financing for residential properties. In this article, we will take a close look into the loan officer’s occupation for real estate and what it takes to pursue this career.

What Does a Loan Officer Do?

To answer the question “what is a mortgage loan officer?” and find out more about what they do, let’s take a look at the big picture.

As licensed representatives of mortgage companies or financial institutions, mortgage loan officers help consumers apply for loans they need to purchase a home. Banking regulators sometimes refer to them as mortgage loan originators because they’re the ones who initiate the mortgage lending process, helping first-time home buyers get the financing they need to make what is often the single largest purchase of their lifetimes.

Mortgage loan officers are different from mortgage brokers. A mortgage broker is a licensed professional who works with multiple lenders to find loan programs for customers and acts as an intermediary between the borrower and lender. A mortgage loan officer typically works for one lender, such as a bank, credit union or other financial institution, which means the loan products they can offer are limited only to what that particular lender offers.

The regular duties of a mortgage loan officer may include:

  • Reviewing the information on loan applications: The loan officer can help to avoid delays or discrepancies in the application process by carefully reviewing all of the information on the nine-section Uniform Residential Loan Application, or URLA form.

  • Gathering the paperwork: An experienced loan officer knows what documents to request from the borrower to support their application and help the borrower’s chances of approval while expediting the process.

  • Negotiating the best terms: An effective loan officer is familiar with different types of home loans and a variety of programs offered by lenders.  Based on factors like interest rates and closing costs, they can recommend a particular program and explain why the loan they’re recommending is the best fit for the borrower’s needs.

  • Keeping things on track: The loan officer typically tracks the progress of the application process, keeping an eye on deadlines so the borrower can be confident they’ll be at the closing table on the anticipated date while avoiding additional fees that might result from a mortgage rate lock expiration or other time-sensitive issue. 

Daily Tasks and Responsibilities

Now that we’ve looked at the career in broad strokes, what are some of the daily duties of a loan officer? Working in an office environment, loan officers will typically meet with clients, make calls to reach out to new clients and scheduling appointments to meet with them. When meeting with clients, loan officers will ask about the customers’ needs and begin collecting their financial information needed to complete their clients’ loan applications. Throughout this process, the loan officer is considering which loan might make the best fit with the borrower’s needs but is also assessing the financial institution’s risk involved with lending to them.

When everything has been decided, they will then: 

  • Review all documentation to be sure it’s complete and accurate.

  • Communicate awareness of loan application deadlines and keep their clients informed.

  • Verify their clients’ credit history and information with credit bureaus and other agencies. 

What Education is Required to be a Loan Officer

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a loan officer, there are some important things to know about the education, experience and skills the job requires.

A loan officer is essentially a finance job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), loan officers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or finance, along with some on-the-job training. An understanding of general business accounting helps them to read and understand financial statements.

Regarding the experience required for the job, the BLS notes that mortgage companies may prefer to hire candidates with some residential mortgage or real estate industry experience, and typically need to have a Mortgage Loan Originator’s license, or MLO. The licensing process consists of pre-licensing courses, a national exam and background and credit checks. Other requirements may be needed depending on the state you live in.

The BLS also details that these important soft skills may also come in handy for mortgage loan officers:

  • Decision-making skills: After assessing an applicant’s financial information, the loan officer must decide what type of loan makes the most sense for the customer, or whether to approve the loan.

  • Attention to detail: An effective loan officer needs the ability to keep track of all the details of the loan and its potential for profitability. 

  • Interpersonal skills: Guiding customers through the loan application process and answering their questions requires strong communication skills, patience and empathy.

Job Outlook

While the overall job growth for loan officers across all sectors is expected to hold steady at 4% on a national level between 2021 to 2031, the BLS projects this will result in roughly 29,400 job openings for loan officers each year during this period.1 This growth is projected on a national level and local growth will vary by location. This projection is not specific to DeVry graduates and may include earners at all stages of their careers.

Prepare to Pursue Your Career in Finance with DeVry

At DeVry, you can enroll in our Bachelor’s Degree with a Specialization in Finance, our MBA with a Specialization in Finance or our Master’s Degree in Accounting and Financial Management from our Keller Graduate School of Management to help you get started on the path toward a new and exciting career.

In these programs you’ll learn essentials about money and banking, what technology is being used in the industry, data analysis and so much more. Plus, online learning with DeVry helps you to balance your commitment to education with work, family and other aspects of your busy life.

Classes starting every January, March, May, July, September and November session.

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