Loan Clerks and Credit Authorizers, Checkers, and Clerks

Significant Points

  • A high school education is the minimum requirement; telephone, typing, and computer skills are also helpful.
  • Increasing automation will result in slower than average employment growth despite an increase in loans and credit applications.

Nature of the Work [About this section]  Index

Loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks review credit history and obtain the information needed to determine the creditworthiness of loan and credit card applicants. They spend much of their day on the phone obtaining credit information from credit bureaus, employers, banks, credit institutions, and other sources to determine the applicant’s credit history and ability to pay back the loan or charge.

Loan clerks, also called loan processing clerks, loan closers, or loan service clerks, assemble loan documents, process the paperwork associated with the loan, and assure that all information is complete and verified. Mortgage loans are the primary type of loan handled by loan clerks, who may also have to order appraisals on the property, set up escrow accounts, and secure any additional information required to transfer the property.

The specific duties of loan clerks vary by specialty. Loan closers, for example, complete the loan process by gathering the proper documents for signature at the closing, including deeds of trust, property insurance papers, and title commitments. They set the time and place for the closing, make sure all parties are present, and ensure that all conditions for settlement have been met. After settlement, the loan closer records all documents and submits the final loan package to the owner of the loan. Loan service clerks maintain the payment records once the loan is issued. These clerical workers process the paperwork for payment of fees to insurance companies and tax authorities and may also record changes to client addresses and loan ownership. When necessary, they answer calls from customers with routine inquiries.

The duties of loan interviewers are similar to those of loan clerks. They interview potential borrowers and help them fill out loan applications. Interviewers may then investigate the applicant’s background and references, verify information on the application, and forward any findings, reports, or documents to the appraisal department. Finally, interviewers inform the applicant whether the loan has been accepted or denied.

Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks process and authorize applications for credit, including credit cards. Although the distinctions between the three are becoming less, some generalities can still be made. Credit clerks typically handle the processing of the credit applications by verifying the information on the application, calling applicants if they need additional data, contacting credit bureaus for a credit rating, and obtaining any other information necessary to determine the applicant’s creditworthiness. If the clerk works in a department store or other establishment that offers instant credit, the clerk enters applicant information into a computer at the point-of-sale. A credit rating will then be transmitted from a central office within seconds to determine whether the application should be rejected or approved.

Some organizations have credit checkers, who investigate a person’s or business’s credit history and current credit standing prior to issuing a loan or line of credit. They may also telephone or write to credit departments of businesses and service companies to obtain information about an applicant’s credit standing. Credit reporting agencies and bureaus hire a number of checkers to secure, update, and verify information for credit reports. These workers are often called credit investigators or reporters.

Credit authorizers approve charges against customers’ existing accounts. Most charges are approved automatically by computer. When accounts are past due, overextended, invalid, or show a change of address, however, sales persons refer transactions to credit authorizers located in a central office. These authorizers evaluate the customers’ computerized credit records and payment histories to quickly decide whether or not to approve new charges.

Working Conditions [About this section]  Index

Loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks usually work a standard 35- to 40-hour week. However, they may work overtime during particularly busy periods. Loan clerks handling residential real estate experience busy periods during spring and summer and at the end of each month. For credit authorizers, busy periods are during the holiday shopping seasons and store sales. In retail establishments, authorizers may work nights and weekends during store hours. Authorizers and checkers may also work in call centers if they are employed by companies that have centralized this function at one location. Part-time work is available for a number of these occupations.

Employment [About this section]  Index

Loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks held about 254,000 jobs in 1998. About 8 out of 10 were employed by commercial and savings banks, credit unions, mortgage banks, and personal and business credit institutions. Credit reporting and collection agencies, and wholesale and retail trade establishments also employ these clerks.

Training, Other Qualifications, & Advancement [About this section]  Index

A high school education or equivalent is usually the minimum requirement for these entry level positions. Other requirements of the job include good telephone and organizational skills as well as the ability to pay close attention to details and meet tight deadlines. To enter and retrieve data quickly, computer skills are also important.

Most new employees are trained on the job, working under close supervision of more experienced employees. Some firms offer formal training that may include courses in telephone etiquette, computer use, and customer service skills. A number of credit workers also take courses in credit offered by banking and credit associations, public and private vocational schools, and colleges and universities. Workers in these positions can typically advance to loan or credit department supervisor, underwriter, loan officer, or team leader of a small group of clerks.

Job Outlook [About this section]  Index

Slower than average employment growth for loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks is expected through 2008. Despite a projected increase in the number of loans and credit applications, automation will allow fewer workers to process, check, and authorize applications than in the past. The effects of automation on employment will be moderated, however, by the many interpersonal aspects of the job. Mortgage loans, for example, require loan processors to personally verify financial data on the application, and loan closers are needed to assemble documents and prepare them for settlement.

Employment will also be adversely affected by changes in the financial services industry. For example, significant consolidation has occurred among mortgage loan servicing companies. As a result, fewer mortgage banking companies are involved in loan servicing, making the function more efficient and reducing the need for loan servicing clerks.

Credit scoring is another major development that has improved the productivity of these workers, further limiting employment growth. Companies and credit bureaus can now purchase software that quickly analyzes a person’s creditworthiness and summarizes it into a "score." Credit issuers can then easily decide whether or not to accept or reject the application depending on the score, speeding up the authorization of loans or credit. Obtaining credit ratings is also much easier for credit checkers and authorizers, as businesses now have computer terminals that are directly linked to credit bureaus that provide immediate access to a person’s credit history.

The job outlook for loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks is sensitive to overall economic activity. A downturn in the economy and a rise in interest rates usually lead to a decline in demand for credit and loans, particularly mortgage loans, possibly causing layoffs. Even in slow economic times, however, job openings will arise from the need to replace those who leave the occupation for various reasons.

Earnings [About this section]  Index

Median annual earnings of loan and credit clerks, the largest occupation among loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks, were about $22,580 in 1998. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,620 and $27,740. The lowest 10 percent had earnings of less than $14,820, while the top 10 percent earned over $33,870. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest number of loan and credit clerks in 1997 were:

Mortgage bankers and brokers $24,300
Savings institutions  22,100
Commercial banks 20,300
Credit unions 20,200
Personal credit institutions 19,300

Among other workers in this occupational grouping, median annual earnings of credit checkers were $21,550 in 1998; credit authorizers earned $22,990; and loan interviewers made $23,190.

In addition to standard benefits, workers in retail establishments usually receive a discount on store purchases.

Related Occupations [About this section]  Index

Occupations with duties similar to those of loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks include claim clerks, customer complaint clerks, procurement clerks, probate clerks, and collection clerks.

Sources of Additional Information [About this section]  Index

Disclaimer: Links to other Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

General information about local job opportunities for loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks may be obtained from banks and credit institutions, retail stores, and credit reporting agencies.

For specific information on a career as a loan processor or loan closer, contact:

  • Mortgage Bankers Association of America, 1125 15th St. NW.Washington, DC 20005. Internet: http://www.mbaa.org

An industry employing loan clerks and credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks that appears in the 2000-01 Career Guide to Industries: Banking

O*NET Codes: 53114, 53117, & 53121 About the O*NET codes

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