Difference Between Loan Officer & Underwriter

Loan officers and underwriters are similar positions in some ways, but they have key differences, primarily in the level of customer interaction and the step in the loan process they complete. Learn details about the type of work completed by people in these careers, along with some related careers.

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Comparing Loan Officers to Underwriters

If you're interested in a career that involves working in a financial setting and helping clients acquire funding to achieve their business and personal financial goals, then a career as a loan officer or underwriter may be for you. A loan officer meets directly with clients to help them determine which loan products best fit their needs. An underwriter analyzes documents from clients to determine if they are eligible for a loan.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017) Job Growth (2016-2026)
Loan Officer Bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field $63,650* 11%*
Underwriter Bachelor's degree $57,087** 9% (for financial specialists, all other)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

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Responsibilities of Loan Officers vs. Underwriters

Loan officers and underwriters are responsible for processing loans, including working with clients, following regulations, and determining clients' qualifications. However, loan officers usually work directly with clients to determine their loan needs and which products might best fulfill those needs. Underwriters take the collected documents and determine the risk that the bank or lending institution might be taking on by loaning the money to the client.

Loan Officer

A loan officer is a mid-level position within a bank or other financial institution that lends money to individuals and businesses. They are the first point of contact for a client who is searching for a loan. Their primary responsibilities center around working with clients throughout the loan process, from the initial interview, the application process, loan closing, and sometimes administration over the life of the loan. Strong communication with all parties throughout this process is required. Loan officers work in a financial office environment, working a standard 40-hour per week schedule, although overtime is sometimes required based on workload.

Job responsibilities of a loan officer include:

  • Gathering clients' financial information
  • Knowing the various loan products their institution offers
  • Determining payment schedules once a loan is approved
  • Providing quality customer service to encourage clients to return for future financial needs
  • Track client credit and loan data to ensure accurate record keeping


In order to assess the risk a financial institution would be undertaking by granting a particular loan, underwriters may work closely with loan officers, investors, clients, and other interested parties throughout the loan application and approval process. Underwriters work in a standard office environment, usually within a financial institution. They work a standard 40-hour per week schedule, sometimes working overtime if workload requires it.

Job responsibilities of an underwriter include:

  • Following all governmental regulations regarding banking, finance, and loans
  • Analyzing all loan documents in a very detail-oriented manner
  • Advising personal and commercial clients regarding debt and other financing options
  • Analyzing the financial situation of companies to determine the best finance, debt, and investment options

Related Careers

If you are interested in becoming a loan officer, a career as a banker may be of interest to you. Both careers involve working with clients to meet their financial goals. A career as a medical underwriter may be of interest to someone pursuing a career as an underwriter, as both careers require skills related to risk analysis and coverage requirements.

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