Loan officers research financial data and other information to determine whether an applicant should receive a loan. Among the various types of loan officers are commercial loan officers, who deal primarily with business-related borrowing. Those loans generally are more complex than mortgage or consumer loans.
Job prospects for loan officers are typically brighter when the economy is stronger. As the market improves, businesses are more likely to borrow money for expansion, plant upgrades and other projects, leading to more opportunities for loan officers.
Federal projections call for demand for loan officers to increase over the coming years as the economy moves out of a recession.
Job Outlook and Salary for Commercial Loan Officers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 14% job growth for all types of loan officers from 2010 to 2020, the same as the national average for all occupations. In particular, opportunities are expected to be positive for loan officer candidates with a bachelor’s degree and experience in lending, sales or banking.
Although the BLS notes that increasing automation of loan underwriting procedures may lead to the loss of some jobs, it predicts an improving economy will boost lending by companies and individuals. That will fuel the hiring of loan officers.
Nationally, loan officers earned a median annual wage of almost $59,820 in May 2012, with the top 10% earning more than $119,710, according to the BLS. Some loan officers may be paid on commission and some may receive performance-based bonuses.
As with any occupation, local market conditions will affect earning potential and employment opportunities for commercial loan officers, as will a candidate’s work experience and educational qualifications.
Education and Training for Commercial Loan Officers
Although some types of loan officers may require only a high school diploma, commercial loan officers typically must have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline such as economics, finance or business.
Given the potential size and complexity of business loans, it’s important for commercial loan officers to have a solid foundation in accounting, as well as “soft skills” such as initiative and decision-making initiative. Interpersonal communication skills are also vital for commercial loan officers, as much of their work involves face-to-face meetings with loan applicants.
On-the-job training for loan officers can include developing skills related to underwriting software programs. In addition, industry groups such as the American Bankers Association offer training and certification programs for commercial and other types of loan officers.
Military Occupational Specializations
Servicemembers making the transition to civilian life may find that numerous military occupational specializations have duties and responsibilities that mirror those of a commercial loan officer.
For example, Navy personnel in accounting and finance roles deal with expenses and payroll.
Army roles include financial manager and financial management technician, and Air Force roles include cost analysis officer, financial management officer and financial management comptroller.