Loan Officers and Counselors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

While in high school, take classes that will give you a solid preparation for college. Classes may include mathematics, such as algebra and geometry, science, history, and a foreign language. Take English courses to improve your researching, writing, and communication skills. Also, take computer classes. Computer technology is an integral part of today's financial world, and you will benefit from being familiar with this tool. Finally, if your high school offers classes in economics, accounting, or finance, be sure to take these courses. The course work will not only give you an opportunity to gain knowledge, but will also allow you to see if you enjoy working with numbers and theories.

Postsecondary Training

A high school diploma, combined with on-the-job training, may be enough for some positions, but a bachelor's degree is preferred by employers. Possible college majors include accounting, economics, finance, or business administration with an emphasis on accounting or finance. You will need to continue honing your computer skills during this time. Also, you will probably have exposure to business law classes. Federal and state laws regarding business and finances frequently change, so you will need to familiarize yourself with current regulations.


The Mortgage Bankers Association offers offers eight different certificates and designations in the commercial/multifamily and residential mortgage servicing categories. Contact the association for more information.  

Other Education or Training

Many financial management and banking associations offer continuing education programs in conjunction with colleges or universities or other providers. These programs are geared toward advancing and updating your knowledge of subjects such as changing banking regulations, financial analysis, and consumer and mortgage lending. The American Bankers Association, for example, offers training in every phase of banking through its own facilities or the facilities of the local universities and banking organizations. The length of this training may vary from six months to two years. Years of service and experience are required for a top-level financial institution officer to become acquainted with policy, operations, customers, and the community. Similarly, the Association for Financial Professionals, Consumer Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Credit Management offer training and instruction.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Mortgage loan officers must have a mortgage loan originator license from the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS). Applicants must undergo a criminal background check, agree to a credit report analysis from the NMLS, complete 20 hours of NMLS-approved education, and pass an examination. Visit https://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org for more information.  

Certification is one way to show your commitment to the field, improve your skills, and increase your possibilities for advancement. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) offers the certified mortgage banker (CMB) designation, which has the following areas of expertise: residential or commercial. Those who earn both the residential and commercial designations may apply for the master CMB designation. A fast-track executive CMB designation is available to experienced professionals who can substitute real-world experience for aspects of the residential and commercial CMB programs. The association also offers the following specialist designations: commercial certified mortgage servicer, residential certified mortgage servicer, certified residential underwriter, accredited mortgage professional, and chartered realty investor. Thee MBA also offer two specialty certificate programs that allow participants to earn the residential certified mortgage servicer specialist and the certified residential underwriter credentials. The National Association of Credit Management offers the following certification designations: certified credit and risk analyst, credit business associate, credit business fellow, certified credit executive, certified international credit professional, and international certified credit executive.

Other Requirements

To become licensed, mortgage loan officers must undergo a criminal background check. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any previous experience in the banking or financial services industries will be useful for aspiring loan officers and counselors.

In the banking business, the ability to get along well with others is essential. You should be able to show tact and convey a feeling of understanding and confidence. Honesty is perhaps the most important qualification for this job. Loan officers and counselors have access to confidential financial information about the individuals and business concerns associated with their institutions. Therefore, if you are interested in this career, you must have a high degree of personal integrity. Other important traits include financial acumen, a detail-oriented personality, the ability to work well with others, and strong communication skills.