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Loan Officers, also referred to as "Mortgage Loan Originators", work for banks and other financial institutions with the main objective to recommend individual and business loan applications for approval. Loan officers specialize in commercial, consumer and mortgage loans. 
Although they are employed by financial institutions, they can be seen as intermediaries between lending institutions and borrowers. They solicit loans, represent creditors to borrowers, and represent borrowers to creditors.
Loan Officer positions generally require a bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or a related field if working in the commercial lending sector. With residential lending, Loan Officers must obtain their MLO License from the NMLS and/or registration depending on the type of financial institution where the Loan Officer is employed. Banking, lending, or sales experience is highly valued by employers in both a commercial and residential lending. Most employers also prefer applicants who are familiar with computers and their applications in banking. Loan officers without college degrees usually advance to their positions from other jobs in an organization after acquiring several years of work experience in various other occupations, such as teller or customer service representative. Personal qualities such as sales ability, good interpersonal and communication skills, and a strong desire to succeed also are important qualities for loan officers.
In the United States, Loan officers that originate residential loans must obtain NMLS credentials. This includes: a background check, prelicense education, a credit check, and a national exam. A national exam known as the SAFE MLO test must be passed and in many cases individual states require testing. A "unique identifier" is obtained through this process and must be present on all FNMA 1003 / FHLMC 65 Uniform Residential Loan Application forms. 
Various banking-related associations and private schools offer courses and programs for students interested in lending, as well as for experienced loan officers who want to keep their skills current. For example, the Bank Administration Institute, an affiliate of the American Bankers Association, offers the Loan Review Certificate Program for persons who review and approve loans. This program enhances the quality of reviews and improves the early detection of deteriorating loans, thereby contributing to the safety and soundness of the loan portfolio. The Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation demonstrates the holder's superior knowledge, understanding, and competency in real estate finance. The Mortgage Bankers Association offers three CMB designations: residential, commerce, and master's. To obtain the CMB, the candidate must have three years of experience, earn educational credits, and pass an exam. Completion of these courses and programs generally enhances one's employment and advancement opportunities.
Some loan officers advance their credentials further by becoming certified mortgage planning specialists (CMPS). CMPS is a designation held by less than 1% of brokers nationwide. 
Persons planning a career as a loan officer should be capable of developing effective working relationships with others, confident in their abilities, and highly motivated. For public relations purposes, loan officers must be willing to attend community events as representatives of their employer.
Capable loan officers may advance to larger branches of the firm or to managerial positions, while less capable workers—and those having weak academic preparation—could be assigned to smaller branches and might find promotion difficult without obtaining training to upgrade their skills. Advancement beyond a loan officer position usually includes supervising other loan officers and clerical staff.