How to Become a Chief Lending Officer: Career Guide

Find out how to become a chief lending officer. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in finance. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become A…
  • 0:40 Career Requirements
  • 1:03 Steps To Become A…

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Should I Become a Chief Lending Officer?

Financial institutions, such as savings institutions, banks and credit unions, employ these lending officers. A chief lending officer manages a team of loan officers, maintains the bank's loan portfolio ensuring that all requirements are completed for loans, creates lending policies and makes reports on the statuses of the loans to management. Travel to meet with clients in their homes or businesses might be required. reported a median annual salary for chief lending officers of $121,968 in January 2016.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Business, finance, or a related field
Licensure and Certification Some officers, such as mortgage loan officers, need licensure; voluntary certification available
Experience Varies; 8+ years of leadership or supervisory experience common
Key Skills Decision-making and interpersonal skills; initiative
Salary $121,968 (2016 median salary for chief lending officers)

Sources: Job postings from employers (November 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),

You'll need a bachelor's degree in business, finance or a related field. Some officers, such as mortgage loan officers, need licensure, and voluntary certification is available. Experience required varies, but typically, you'll need at least eight years of leadership or supervisory experience. You'll also need decision-making and interpersonal skills, as well as initiative.

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Steps to Become a Chief Lending Officer

Let's review what steps you'll need to go through to become a chief lending officer.

Step 1: Acquire a Bachelor's Degree

Related bachelor's degree programs in this field can be found in areas like business, economics or finance. Common course topics in these programs include management, business communications and banking principles. Pursuing a minor or a specialization in accounting can also be helpful.

Success Tip

Fulfill an internship. An internship with a bank provides real-world experience that can prove useful for securing a job upon graduation. Some banks offer their own internships or one may obtain an internship through their college or university.

Step 2: Seek Employment as a Loan Officer

Many individuals who become chief lending officers start out as loan officers in banks or other lending institutions. It is possible to become a loan officer by working first as a bank teller and training on the job, either by working alongside an experienced loan officer or attending company-sponsored classroom training. Loan officers dealing with mortgages usually need state licensure, which typically requires 20 hours of coursework and a background check.

Step 3: Consider a Master's Degree

Many chief lending officers hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA). This degree, which prepares individuals for business and management careers, has coursework covering subjects such as financing, marketing, managing, accounting and researching. At the end of the program, a capstone course may be completed, often in the form of a business plan or publishable paper.

Success Tip

Consider developing some sales skills. According to in 2015, some chief lending officers previously held positions in sales, such as senior vice president of sales or sales director. Some MBA programs have flexibility in terms of electives and degree concentrations that will allow one to take courses in different areas of business.

Step 4: Attain Managerial Experience

Many employers require several years of managerial experience for prospective chief lending officers. Some banks have training programs for loan officers and other employees to advance to positions such as branch or assistant manager. Additional experience, such as that earned in an internship or MBA program, can also give managerial candidates a leg up.

Success Tip

Obtain professional certification. While not a requirement, voluntary certification can be beneficial for someone applying for this position. The Certified Mortgage Banker designation from the Mortgage Bankers Association offers three levels of certification, which are granted after passing an examination and submitting the required evidence of experience and education. The American Bankers Association also offers various types of certifications, and Certified Lender Business Banker (CLBB) certification is appropriate for commercial lending officers.

To become a chief lending officer, you'll need a bachelor's degree and experience in the field, including managerial experience.

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