There are a wide range of job opportunities available for individuals with a finance education. From among the many potential career trajectories, a graduate of a finance-related program could seek a position as a loan officer or a budget analyst. Both of these careers are directly relevant to the field of finance, and individuals in these positions add significant value to the companies for which they work. In order to be successful in either position, a person must have a set of specific skills. Ultimately, I would recommend a position as a loan officer over a job as a budget analyst.

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After getting an education in finance, an individual can pursue a career as a loan officer. The role of a loan officer is to assess loan applications for individuals and institutions and recommend whether or not a loan should be provided. Typically, loan officers work for financial institutions like banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies. Depending on the loan applicant, a loan officer spends time conducting extensive research on the applicant in order to verify financial information and create a realistic profile that is reflective of the applicant as a potential risk for the financial institution. Loan officers also examine loans in order to make sure they comply with state and federal regulations. The overall process of assessing this information is known as underwriting. Today, many loan officers use underwriting software, which uses input data to produce a determination of whether or not the loan should be provided. Based on this information and their own evaluation of the applicant, a loan officer can make a final decision on whether or not a loan should be offered.

A loan officer adds value to a financial institution by offering sound, well-founded recommendations on whether or not a loan should be offered to a particular applicant. Companies rely on the finance expertise of loan officers to ensure that they only offer loans to applicants who pose a low risk. In addition, loan officers interact directly with customers as they gather information and help applicants with loan application forms, so they can help the financial institution build a positive reputation for friendliness and personalized service. This can ultimately help the company develop a loyal base of customers.

Because of the nature of the underwriting process, loan officers need to be detail-oriented and have strong decision-making skills. This ensures that they will be able to offer a comprehensive evaluation of the loan and a clear recommendation on whether or not the financial institution should move forward. Also, because they interact with applicants throughout the loan application process, loan officers need to have strong interpersonal skills. It can also be helpful for loan officers to be bold and enterprising, since they may be involved in seeking out potential loan applicants or convincing them that a loan is the right decision.

Another career option within the field of finance is a position as a budget analyst. A budget analyst is typically involved in both the development and the evaluation of an organization’s budget. This position is available at many different types of organizations, including businesses, universities, and governments. For organizational or departmental budgets, budget analysts evaluate proposals to make sure they are accurate, complete, and consistent with legal restrictions and government regulations. In large organizations, a budget analyst may be responsible for integrating the budgets of multiple departments into an institution-wide budget that meets the organization’s needs and complies with all regulations. Once a budget has been implemented, a budget analyst monitors spending in order to make sure that it falls within the guidelines of the original budget. They can also use the information they collect in order to begin to develop the necessary parameters for future budgets.

Because of these activities, budget analysts are highly valuable to the organizations for which they work. With their financial insight, budget analysts help an organization determine who best to allocate funds. They also help make sure that the organization remains within its financial means over the long-term. In order to be a successful budget analyst, it is necessary to be highly detail-oriented and have strong math skills, since these professionals constantly work with and evaluate complex financial information. Also, a budget analyst must have strong oral and written communication skills so that they can clearly express budgetary information to organizational leaders and stakeholders.

After examining these two positions, I would recommend pursuing a position as a loan officer because of the attractive features of the job. Not only do loan officers have the chance to utilize their financial education, but they also spend a large amount of time interacting with applicants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is not uncommon for loan officers to travel to meet with clients, which is another potential benefit of the job. Also, job opportunities for loan officers are expected to increase by 11% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the national average for all occupations. While it is true that the median annual wage for budget analysts is slightly higher than for loan officers ($73,840 for budget analysts, as compared to $63,650 for loan officers), the expected salary for a loan officer is still enough to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Therefore, because the job pays relatively well and offers opportunities for both financial analysis and close personal interaction, I would recommend pursuing a career as a loan officer.