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Jobs Outlook: Loan Counselors and Officers




Employment of loan counselors and officers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. College graduates and those with banking, lending, or sales experience should have the best job prospects. Employment growth stemming from economic expansion and population increases—factors that generate demand for loans—will be partially offset by increased automation that speeds lending processes and by the spread of alternative methods of applying for and obtaining loans. Job opportunities for workers in these occupations are influenced by the volume of loan applications, which is determined largely by interest rates and by the overall level of economic activity. However, besides those resulting from growth, additional job openings will result from the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise leave the occupation permanently.

The use of credit scoring has made the loan evaluation process much simpler than in the past, and even unnecessary in some cases. Credit scoring allows loan officers, particularly loan underwriters, to evaluate many more loans in much less time, thus increasing loan officers’ efficiency. In addition, the mortgage application process has become highly automated and standardized. This simplification has enabled online mortgage loan vendors to offer loan shopping services over the Internet. Online vendors accept loan applications from customers over the Internet and determine which lenders have the best interest rates for particular loans. With this knowledge, customers can go directly to the lending institution, thereby bypassing mortgage loan brokers. Shopping for loans on the Internet—though currently not a widespread practice—is expected to become more common over the next 10 years, particularly for mortgages, thus reducing demand for loan officers.

Although loans remain a major source of revenue for banks, demand for new loans fluctuates and affects the income and employment opportunities of loan officers. When the economy is on the upswing or when interest rates decline dramatically, there is a surge in real estate buying and mortgage refinancing that requires loan officers to work long hours processing applications and induces lenders to hire additional loan officers. Loan officers often are paid by commission on the value of the loans they place, and some have high earnings when demand for mortgages is high. When the real estate market slows, loan officers often suffer a decline in earnings and may even be subject to layoffs. The same applies to commercial loan officers, whose workloads increase during good economic times as companies seek to invest more in their businesses. In difficult economic conditions, loan collection officers are likely to see an increase in the number of delinquent loans.