What Does a Loan Officer Do?

A loan officer is a mortgage professional who helps homebuyers and owners secure loans. They use their skills to review applications, interview applicants and counsel them on the best options.


They work to build relationships with realtors and builders that lead to valuable referrals. They also maintain their knowledge of industry changes and eligibility requirements.


A loan officer is the first person potential borrowers or small businesses turn to when they have questions about mortgages, loans, and other financial products. They must be able to answer these questions with confidence and clarity, so they should have extensive knowledge about the different types of loans offered by their employer or lending institution. A loan officer also needs to be able to use critical thinking skills to assess applications and identify potential risks.

A strong background in finance is essential for this position, especially a solid understanding of banking regulations and loan products. Other qualifications include strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing. Loan officers often work with customers who have limited financial knowledge, so they must be able to explain complex mortgage processes in a way that is understandable to them.

Some lenders offer training programs for new loan officers, but most require job candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree and pass the National Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) exam. In addition, many states require loan officers to have a mortgage lending license. The process of getting a license usually involves pre-licensing courses, passing an examination, and undergoing credit and background checks. Loan officers should also be able to demonstrate effective marketing and sales skills to attract new clients.


The best loan officers have a thorough understanding of their lender’s mortgage products and guidelines. They can help borrowers determine what type of mortgage best fits their needs and budget. They will also know how to navigate government-imposed rules and regulations and the mortgage industry’s compliance requirements. They must be able to meet and exceed the expectations of potential clients, as this is the quickest way to gain future business.

A good loan officer will be familiar with a variety of mortgage programs, including first-time homebuyer loans and jumbo mortgages. They will be able to recommend a loan program based on an applicant’s credit history and debt-to-income ratio, while following fair lending laws. They will also be able to answer questions about mortgage fees, such as document preparation, appraisal costs and interest rate adjustments.

Some loan officers work for financial institutions, while others work independently as mortgage brokers. They must be familiar with the financial institution’s lending products, such as credit lines and different types of loans, and offer consultations to guide borrowers through the process.

Some loan officers earn commissions based on the number of loans closed each month. This can be a good incentive, but some loan officers can end up with a low monthly volume despite their efforts, which can be demoralizing. Other loan officers may earn bonuses based on net loan growth, which can be more consistent and motivating.


In the case of a mortgage, loan officers ensure that the house you want to buy has enough value as collateral for the borrowed amount. This is done by evaluating its current market value and reviewing documents verifying other assets you may own like checking and savings accounts, investment and retirement accounts as well as proceeds from the sale of tangible items.

The responsibilities of a loan officer also involve the ability to identify red flags in a borrower’s application. Whether it is a missed question or missing documentation, a loan officer will alert the underwriter if anything could delay an approval process. They can also advise a would-be borrower on ways to improve their chances for approval, such as providing documentation addressing extenuating circumstances or applying with a creditworthy cosigner.

A loan officer can also offer expertise on the home loans offered by the financial institution for which they work. They can provide details on a variety of programs that can help borrowers save money as well as explain mortgage terms and conditions so that a borrower can make the best decision about the type of loan to apply for.

Aside from their base salary, many loan officers earn income through incentive programs that can be tied to a number of different factors such as the volume of loans closed. Mortgage loan origination often results in the highest commissions but other types of loans can generate significant earnings as well.


A loan officer is the main point of contact for most borrowers as they go through a mortgage process, especially if it’s their first time. They are knowledgeable about the different types of loans that their financial institution offers and can advise borrowers on which type would best suit their needs. They can also guide borrowers through the different paperwork that comes with the process, as mortgage loans require more documentation than other types of loans.

Loan officers are typically paid a commission for their services, with mortgages producing the largest commissions because of the size and complexity of the loans. They may be employed by their lending institution or they can be independent mortgage brokers. A flat per-file incentive is common, although this can encourage loan officers to sell borrowers on higher interest rates than are in their best interests.

The job requires interpersonal communication skills, as well as analytical and managerial skills. It is important to be familiar with the credit and loan products offered by the institution for which you work, as well as to understand how mortgage regulations at the state and local levels affect the application process.

It is important for loan officers to network to meet potential clients. One way to do this is by attending mortgage-related networking events. In addition to networking events, loan officers can also utilize online marketing tools such as social media to promote their business and build brand awareness.