Loan counselors help loan applicants who do not easily qualify for traditional loans. They provide guidance to these individuals by determining appropriate loan types, and by explaining the requirements and restrictions of those loans. They interview applicants, submit applications to credit analysts for review, and negotiate payment arrangements for customers with delinquent accounts. In some institutions, some of the duties of loan counselors are performed by loan officers. In credit unions, the titles loan counselor and loan officer are interchangeable.
Loan counselors should have well-developed interpersonal communication skills, and be willing to develop productive working relationships with others. Because of the sales involved in the occupation, they need to be very confident and highly motivated. They must be willing and able to publicly represent their establishment at community events.
In 2002, loan counselors earned a median annual salary of $32,010. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $22,800, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $57,400.
Training and Education
Candidates seeking employment as loan counselors are usually required to have a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or a similar field. Most will need to be familiar with computer banking applications. Training in sales can be particularly advantageous for those in the commercial and mortgage fields. Some loan counselors acquire their positions without college degrees, but they usually have several years of experience as tellers or customer service representatives. For bank or credit union loan counselors, no licensing requirements exist, while mortgage bank and brokerage loan counselors have licensing requirements that vary by State. Another training option is a course or program offered by a banking-related association or private school. Loan counselors with strong academic preparation may advance to managerial positions or to larger branches of a company, while those with less academic preparation may find it difficult to be promoted.
In 2002, loan counselors held about 31,000 jobs. About 40% were employed by commercial banks, savings institutions, and credit unions. 33% were employed by mortgage and consumer finance companies.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of loan counselors is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Those who have a bachelor's degree and experience in banking, lending, or sales will have the best opportunities for employment. Economic expansion and population increases will be offset by increased automation in the industry. Credit scoring has enabled loan officers to become much more efficient, and loan application over the Internet is expected to dramatically simplify the loan process. Job openings will also result from the need to replace workers who retire, switch careers, or leave the occupation for other reasons.