Computer Use in Career Counseling

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					Coun. 511, Spring 2005, Assignment 3, Research Paper

David Loftus
Coun 511 Spring 2005
Research Excerpts File (REF)
Last Updated 9/15/2012 12:01 PM

Computer Use in Career Counseling

       The use of technology in career counseling will depend on the focus of career counseling. If we
focus most on assisting individuals to make educational and vocational decisions (Harris-Bowlsbey,
1983), our greatest need may be for good data or information to make good decisions.

                       This may include self-assessment (Noll & Graves, 1996; Plant, 1993) of one’s
interests and values along with information regarding the current world of work. Computers can definitely
help provide the information needed to make decisions. Complete and accurate as well as easily
accessible data files on occupations can be found via computers (Walz & Bleuer, 1985). Thus, computers
could provide the information needed to make what Parsons labeled as true reasoning (Kapes & Mastie,
1988). Indeed, information regarding the changing career market and resources for training may be better
provided by computers due to the overwhelming amount of career information a career counselor would
have to obtain to be helpful (Gati, 1994; Mariani, 1995; Zunker, 1990).

        The career counseling and guidance profession has seemingly indicated its acceptance of this
use of computer technology within career counseling, as many colleges and universities and government
centers now use career information delivery systems (Mariani, 1995). The use of computers to store and
provide easy access to a multitude of occupational information could be said to have revolutionized the
provision of career counseling.

          The computer guidance programs most often cited in use are the System for Assessment and
Group Evaluation (SAGE), Computerized Career Assessment and Planning Program (CCAPP), Inquiry,
Discover, SIGI, and SIGI Plus programs (Baron, 1985; Farmer, 1976; Hansen, 1993; Kapes & Mastie,
1988; Niles, 1997; Pyle, 1985; Stevens & Lundberg, 1998; Zunker, 1990). These programs often include
a large data bank of information on educational, leisure, and occupational opportunities. They often will
also include a self-assessment component and are viewed as cost efficient. Some authors also indicate
that it is important to have decision making skills and not just access to information (Patterson, 1985).
Consequently, some computer guidance programs also involve modules designed to help someone
become a better decision maker and problem solver. Computers have been said to be able to help train
clients to be more proficient decision makers via providing instruction with the decision making process
(Gati, 1994).

         It is with the decision making process that controversy can enter into the use of computers within
career counseling. Some writers have indicated that interaction and feedback are important when one is
making decisions and that one could use simulation games to aid in the development of decision making
skills (Harri-Bowlsbey, 1983). However, one could argue that computers cannot provide appropriate
interpersonal learning and that people could also easily ignore computer prompts regarding deeper
thinking about a career decision.

        Similarly, the context in which a decision is made can have important implications for the
decision-maker (Gati, 1994; Stevens & Lundberg, 1998). Can a computer be aware of context issues and

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the different complexities that context can bring to a career decision? As career counselors we do not
simply provide information to clients, in a ‘test-and-tell’ fashion, but we also guide and support and
motivate people during their career transitions and decision making process (Corbishley & Yost, 1989).
Computers are wonderful tools but do we really consider them motivating in the same manner as a
therapeutic relationship and a healthy interpersonal alliance? Indeed, as Gati (1994, p. 54) indicates,
“many features of the human-to-human interaction cannot be reproduced.”

         If one conceptualizes career counseling, as also involving more personal counseling aspects, in
addition to making career decisions, then the use of computers within career counseling is even more
limited. For instance, career counseling may also involve discussions of balancing work and family
obligations, reactions to sexual harassment, stress due to work, discrimination in the work force, bias, and
pay inequities (Engels, Minor, Sampson, & Splete, 1995). Issues involving grief over the loss of a job and
unemployment may also be addressed in career counseling (Hansen, 1993). Similarly, many career
counselors see career guidance as a lifelong process that involves effective general counseling skills
(Niles, 1997). A computer is not currently able to adequately discuss a multitude of complex issues in a
caring and interactive manner with clients in differing contexts with different personal backgrounds.

         If computers are used for career decision making and advancing one’s decision-making skills
without the aid of a career counselor, problems can occur. Computers are often seen as faultless and
accurate (Gati, 1994). Thus, those who use computers for career decision making may mistakenly believe
that the computer test is telling one what to do unequivocally (Krumboltz, 1985). This could promote
decision making without attention to within-occupational variance (Gati, 1994) and thus ignore personal
variables effecting the career decision making process and/or career difficulty. Nevertheless, Noll and
Graves (1996) reported that few career centers require or recommend placement officer interviews for
those using computer guidance systems. This is despite the fact that students have indicated preferring
structured interventions when using computers versus independent computer use (Pyle, 1985). Thus, our
need to utilize computers as tools within career counseling in a structured and comprehensive manner is
highlighted. Computers can not replace counselors but can be used as tools within career counseling
(Gati, 1994; Krumboltz, 1985)

         In summary, computers can be very helpful in career counseling in the area of providing up to
date occupational data (Zunker, 1990). Assessments may also be expediently conducted via computers.
However, the assessment of personal interests and abilities via computer can be tricky as the
interpretation of low scores needs to be nonjudgmental (Kapes & Mastie, 1988) and appropriate
interpretation often requires clinical skill. Computers can be programmed with information but as of yet
are not readily capable of highly applicable and flexible clinical skills. Moreover, as career counseling
involves personal counseling and not just directive information (Imbimbo, 1994), computers are merely a
tool for use in career counseling and will not be able to entirely replace career counselors (Zunker, 1990).

Internet Use in Career Counseling

          The absence of a career counselor with whom to discuss career decision making is also a main
objection to providing comprehensive career development information on the Internet (Guerra, 1998). The
Internet and the availability of career counseling resources on the World Wide Web (WWW) and via e-
mail is the second main current controversy regarding the use of technology in career counseling. The
Internet is quickly becoming a revolutionary force in everyday private and business life. As reported by
Mangelsdorf (1998, p. 52) “Call it a revolution. For better or worse, 1994 marked the year the on-line
world, after quietly building momentum for years, finally hit the popular consciousness.” The Internet has
the ability to quickly revolutionize the provision of career counseling.

        The Internet has been defined as (Fuller & Manning, 1998, p. 14) “A vast network of networks
that connects computers across the entire country and around the world.” Through the Internet one can
send and receive e-mail from individuals and subscription lists devoted to various topics were people e-
mail each other as a group. In addition, one can view images and read text on individual World Wide Web
(WWW) sites. The WWW is defined as (Fuller & Manning, 1998) a “global system of computer networks

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Coun. 511, Spring 2005, Assignment 3, Research Paper

linked together by hypertext links that allow a user to jump from any place on the Web to another place on
the Web.”

        Many of the interest assessment devices and occupational data bases available via computer
based systems, such as those previously discussed, are now available on-line via the Internet. Thus, the
benefits and possible drawbacks of providing this information via computer apply to the provision of this
information via the Internet. For instance, whereas one can have access to timely employment data on-
line (Epstein, 1997) one could also miss the interpersonal aspects of counselor-client interaction (Goss,
Robson, Pelling, & Renard, 2001).

        The Internet can be used as a tool in career counseling to help clients investigate their interests,
career options, employment statistics, and educational as well as occupational opportunities. The need
for career counselor involvement with clients as they use the Internet as a resource exists for many of the
reasons career counselors advocate their involvement with clients using the previously described
computer systems. The need for career counselor involvement may also be increased due to the fear
some people have of computers and the lack of access some may have to computers (Mariani, 1995;
Stevens & Lundberg, 1998).

         There is also a danger of information overload as so much information can be available on-line.
One may additionally require assistance in evaluating Internet material as all Internet resources are not
necessarily of high quality. Moreover, certain clients could also unwittingly become behaviorally addicted
to Internet use. Internet addiction is currently a topic being researched (Stevens & Lundberg, 1998;
Grohol, 1997). In addition, as feelings of isolation have been shown to increase with Internet use (Sleek,
1998), the interpersonal relationship a client has with a career counselor could be doubly important.
Moreover, we must not forget that generally only more affluent clients will have greater access to on-line
resources (Mangelsdorf, 1998). As a result, this author is not in favor of solely providing career services
over the Internet or via computer, despite the fact that career counseling via the Internet is already
occurring (Mangelsdorf, 1998; Sherman, 1994; Sleek, 1997). The current author seconds Imbimbo’s
(1994, p. 58) assertion that “The challenge for counselors is to be able to provide a comprehensive
service to clients who have comprehensive needs.” This may include computers or the Internet as a tool
but not replace the career counselor.

         In addition to mirroring the uses of computers in career counseling previously discussed, the
Internet can aid in career development and employment hunting in some additional ways. First, as many
employers are interested in hiring workers who are technologically literate, counseling clients using the
Internet as a tool not only helps with the presenting career problems clients bring to session but also
teaches clients a new and marketable skill: technological literacy (Mosca, 1989; Noll & Graves, 1996).
Second, many people have made connections and thus network well on-line. However, one must
remember that this does not diminish the importance of real life networking (Epstein, 1997). Third, many
jobs are posted on-line and consequently one could have access to a larger job market if they are able to
investigate Internet resources. However, once again one must be warned that not all jobs will be
advertised on-line (Epstein, 1997). Fourth, clients can computerize their resume and candidate data and
post this information on the Internet for employers to seek out (Clips, 1995; Noll & Graves, 1996). Finally,
clients can investigate possible employers for company stability and policies that may effect their
satisfaction with a position within the agency.

         To summarize, large amounts of employment information and career connections can be obtained
and cultivated on the Internet if one knows where to look and has the support needed to evaluate and use
this information (Niles, 1997). As stated by Stevens and Lundberg (1998, p. 203) “Internet fluency
provides the career counselor with a highly interactive mode of communication and potentially up-to-date
sources of information.” Career counselors are in a perfect position to utilize these resources for their
client’s benefit. However, to do this effectively counselors must be technologically literate themselves.
Indeed, Niles (1997) reports that technology is listed as one of the 11 categories of minimum competence
for the professional practice of career counseling and Noll and Graves (1996) report that the need for
students to use electronic communication technologies effectively exists. As stated succinctly by Eberly

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and Cech (1986, p. 24) “The question is not whether to use technology, but how to use it to best
advantage given the setting in which one works” and our settings now include computers and the Internet.

        We still need more research investigating the effects of computers in career counseling.
Consequently, Eberly and Cech’s (1986) call for research to investigate the effects of computers and
when they are best used remains pertinent, not only to the use of computers but the use of the Internet in
general with career counseling. However, the fact that we can use these resources with our clients
remains. It is clear that, as Mosca (1989, p. 99) asserts, “The entire work force has been influenced by
technical advances; therefore, it is a personal responsibility to keep up with change and the instability of
employment.” But how do we do this as career counselors, and how do we do this ethically and in the
best interests of our clients? I have a few suggestions. We should be knowledgeable and stay abreast of
changes that may effect the field of career counseling, including knowledge sources. However, we should
also always remember that both computers and the Internet are tools, and should be used within our work
as career counselors and not to replace our work. Mosca (1989) indicates that workers must attain
technological literacy and I believe this applies to career counselors. With this in mind I would now like to
provide some Internet resources that could be used in career counseling.

          The following list is not exhaustive but simply a sampling of what is available on the Internet
relating to career counseling. One should also be warned that Internet information is constantly changing
and thus while this list was current at the time of publication some information may have since changed. If
this is the case please contact me at and I will attempt to help you with
your Internet question.

Career Counseling Internet Resources

         E-Mail Discussion Lists. Getting onto a discussion list is similar to subscribing to a magazine.
Once you have access to e-mail (a mailbox) and subscribe to a discussion list or listserv (magazine) you
will receive messages from those who post to the list. You can simply read messages, or read and also
post notes to the list, or send messages privately (called back-channel discussions) to other list members
if you address your e-mail directly to individual list members. E-mail listservs exist for a variety of subjects
and this includes career counseling. However, many lists can be very busy and thus you may receive a
large amount of e-mail. Consequently, you are warned that you should sign on to only a few mailing lists
at a time so as to avoid information overload (Pelling, 1995; Pelling & Renard, 1998).

      What follows is a listing of some career counseling discussion groups that can be used by career
counselors in their work. Some listings can also be used by clients in conjunction with support from their
employment counselors.

E-Mail Discussion Group Resources

Professional Counselors
Discussion list for professional counselors who are seeking discussions regarding their profession.
Includes career counselors.
Send the message subscribe to

Discussion on training and development.
Send the message subscribe TRDEV-L to
Discussion on jobs and employment issues.
Send the message subscribe TESLJB-L to

Discussion on any aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Send the message subscribe ADA-LAW to

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Discussion list for all aspects of work and employment as they relate to American Indian populations.
Send the message subscribe NAT-WORK to

Discussion list for all aspects of work and employment as they relate to blind people.
Send the message subscribe BLINDJOB to

       World Wide Web Sites. As previously indicated, the World Wide Web also contains a large
amount of career related information. One can use search engines to locate materials, or simply input a
known web address to view a site. All one needs to view WWW pages are Internet access and a web
browser program, such as Netscape or Explorer (Pelling & Renard, 1998).

       What follows is a listing of some career counseling WWW sites that can be used by career
counselors in their work. Also listed are some WWW sites that can be used by clients when working with
career counselors for support. The following list is categorized for ease of use. The categories that follow
are Counselor Resources, Client/Counselor Resources, Employment Investigation Resources, Resume
Resources, and Employment Hunting Resources.

Counselor Resources

Links to other career and job related sites.

National Career Development Association (NCDA)

Workplace Violence Research Institute

Human Resources Development Canada
Career and employment related information.

Counseling Resources on the Net
Includes career resources.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Career Network – Job Listings

Client/Counselor Resources

Employment Search Readiness Guide

University of Manitoba Career Page
Information on career choices.

Interest and Aptitude Questionnaires

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Occupational Outlook Handbook/Dictionary of Occupational Titles

JobStar Central

Career Exploration Tool (Middle and HS/Adult)

Employment Investigation Resources
Department of Labor America’s Career Infonet

Keirsey Personality Test


Department of Labor JobBank

Resume Resources

The Riley Guide
Job search, cover letters, and networking information.

Resume Postings

JobBank USA
Resume Postings

Canadian Resume Centre - Resume postings

Employment Hunting Resources


Human Resources Development Canada

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Technology in Counselor Education

This blog intends to share best practice for integrating technology into the counselor
education curriculum and for applying technology to the delivery, management, and
assessment of counselor education.

        THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2004

How Americans Use Instant Messaging
How Americans Use Instant Messaging

A report based on surveys conducted in 2004 by the Pew Internet &

American Life Project. "Surveys reveal that more than four in ten

online Americans instant message (IM). ... About 11 million of

them IM at work and they are becoming fond of its capacity to

encourage productivity and interoffice cooperation." Includes

charts and a copy of the questionnaire.

Free Online Tests Dealing With Careers
            We turn now to career tests, also called vocational tests. Before
            you look at these, you should familiarize yourself with:
            The Seven Rules About Taking Career Tests

            1. There is no one test that everyone loves.
               To begin with, some people hate all tests. Period. End of
               story. Forcing these tests on your best friend (if they feel this
               way) could lead to your premature demise.

               Other people like tests, but hate particular kinds of questions.
               For example, some people dislike "forced-choice questions,"
               where they must pick between two choices that are equally

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             bad, in their view. Other people dislike "ranking yourself
             against others" questions, because, with their low self-
             esteem, they rank themselves poorly in comparison with
             "others" in almost everything. Other people don't like "pick
             occupations you like" questions, because they've learned by
             experience that all occupations, as commonly practiced, are a
             mixture of good and bad, and they keep thinking of the bad
             stuff, when each occupation is mentioned. Other people don't
             like questions about how they would behave in certain
             situations, because they tend to pick how they wish they
             would behave, rather than how in fact they actually do.

             Hence, the form of a test has to feel right to the individual
             who is taking it. With tests, as with so many other things in
             life, "one man's meat is another man's poison."

           2. There is no one test that always gives better results than
              You may take a test that gives wonderful suggestions for
              future careers, but when your best friend takes the same test,
              their results may be way off the mark – and you are
              dismayed. Tests have personality – and with respect to a
              given test, one person will love its look, feel, taste, and
              touch, while another person will hate it on sight. And,
              unfortunately, how one feels about a test will definitely skew
              your results.

           3. No test should necessarily be assumed to be accurate
              We turn to tests with the hope that someone can definitely
              tell us who we are and what we should do; and we think a
              test will do that. No, no, no. You can't say, "Well this must
              be who I am; the test says so." Test results are sometimes
              way off the mark. On many online (and offline) tests, if you
              answer even two questions inaccurately, you will get
              completely wrong results and recommendations. I know
              countless sad stories about people whose lives were sent
              down a completely wrong path by test 'results' that they
              believed when they shouldn't have. You should take all test
              results with not just a grain of salt, but with a barrel.

             Tests have one great mission and purpose: To give you ideas
             you hadn't thought of, and suggestions worth following up.
             But if you ask them to do more than that, you're asking too

           4. You should take several tests, rather than just one.

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             You will get a much better picture of your preferences,
             profile, and good career suggestions from three or more tests,
             rather than just one. It's the old idea, since at least the time of
             the Second World War of 'triangulating' the source of a
             transmission. You need to 'triangulate' your test "profiles," in
             order to find your true self.

           5. Always let your intuition be your guide.
              You know more about yourself than any test does. Treat no
              test outcome as 'gospel'; reject the summary the test gives
              you, if it just seems dead wrong to you. Trust your intuition.
              On the other hand, if you really like the suggestions a test
              gives you, don't agonize about whether those suggestions are
              worth tracking down – just do it. Always listen to your heart.

           6. Don't let tests make you forget that you are absolutely
              unique on the face of the earth – as your fingerprints
              There is a sense in which all tests tend toward one unvarying
              result: Because they deal in categories, they don't really tell
              you what's unique about you, but rather they tend to end up
              saying "you are an ENFP," or "you are an AES," or you are a
              "Blue." It's 'a category they're talking about, but I like to
              think of it as a 'tribe, – you are lumped with a lot of other
              people – and sometimes it is even the wrong tribe.

             Job expert Clara Horvath puts it well: Career counseling at
             its best – person to person, face to face – treats you not as a
             member of some category or 'tribe' but as a unique job
             seeker, seeking to conduct a unique job hunt, by identifying a
             unique career and then connecting with a unique company or
             organization, that you can uniquely help or serve.

           7. You are never finished with a test until you've done some
              good hard thinking about yourself.
              Tests are fun, but just reading the results isn't enough. You're
              not done until you've thought hard about what distinguishes
              you from every other member of the human race, and makes
              you (like your fingerprints) unique. With that knowledge,
              you can then set out to find the work you were uniquely put
              here on earth to do, i.e., your unique mission in life. Without
              that hard thinking, tests become just "a flytrap for the lazy."

             Now, to the free online career tests:
The Birkman Method

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    The Princeton Review Career QuizTM"
           This is a forced-choice test, asking you for the most part to
           choose between two categories, even if you don't particularly
           like either one. If you don't like forced choice questions, you
           probably won't like this test.

           I found myself liking this test a lot. A shortened version of
           "The Birkman Method,®" this little gem has three sterling
           virtues, in my view: It is fast, with only 24 questions to answer;
           the format is attractive, with a great use of color in both the
           display and the printout of its results (assuming you have a
           color monitor and color printer, of course); and thirdly, it often
           presents you with some interesting career suggestions.

           After you've answered the 24 questions, you will get a general
           description of your interests, skills, and preferred style
           (described in terms of the "Birkman Colors"), as well as a list
           of careers that all of this points to, chosen from a list in the
           Princeton Review's Guide to Your Career. Also, there's a
           detailed description of each career online, a starting point for
           any subsequent face-to-face exploration.

           Like any test, this can lead you seriously astray, if you aren't
           scrupulously honest about your actual behavior. e.g., Do you
           really feel so patient, when you're kept waiting? Lie, and you'll
           deserve what you get. In any case, you should regard its
           findings as "possibilities" rather than "the gospel truth" about
           who you are. But if you're puzzled about what career to chose
           next, this may give you some good ideas to explore further,
           matched to your skills and interests.

           And speaking of ideas to explore, on the same site is a terrific
           list which you should also check out.
John Holland's SDS (Self-Directed Search)
           My favorite career system for two decades has been John
           Holland's RIASEC system, and its stepchild, your three-letter
           'Holland Code,' which you determine by taking John Holland's
           Self Directed Search instrument. (There is an online version of
           the SDS at, which you can
           take, resulting in a personalized report online, that you can print
           out (the cost for all is $9.95).
The Career Interests Game
             John Holland and I have been friends for the past 25 years, and

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            many years ago in a playful moment I invented a brief, quick
            hazy overview of his RIASEC system, based on my idea of
            someone walking into a room where a party was going on, and
            different groups (the RIASEC groups) were gathered in six
            separate corners of the room. It's called the 'Party Exercise' and
            it's in the 2004 What Color Is Your Parachute? and in The
            What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook, and in another book
            of mine called The Three Boxes of Life, but it's not (officially)
            on the Internet; however there is a version of it online, sans
            title, sans diagram, but with my wording, at the University of
            Missouri site. They call it the Career Interests Game, and while
            it lacks my central graphic, they've otherwise done a great job
            of presenting the exercise in color with career links, etc. It
            gives you a good "first guess" at your three-letter 'Holland
            Code,' but recommends that you also take the paper version of
            John Holland's Self Directed Search test.

    The Career Key
            The Career Key, Lawrence Jones's interactive instrument, is a
            longer test, also designed to tell you your "Holland Code." It's
            relatively brief to take – though longer than the Career Interests
            Game – and does well at giving you your three-letter 'Holland
            Code.' But, when it then offers you some possible occupations
            to consider, that match your Code, it is nowhere near as helpful
            as the Birkman. The reason is that occupations are organized
            here by 'single-letter Holland codes' rather than by 'three-letter
            Holland Codes' – to my mind, a serious defect. You are left to
            flounder around among all the "A" occupations or all the "R"
            occupations, rather than their using the second and third letters
            of your 'Holland Code' to focus things down a bit for you.

            But, on a positive side, The Career Key nicely links its list of
            occupations directly to the renowned Occupational Outlook
            Handbook in its current edition, and by clicking on any
            occupation in Career Key's list, you are taken to a detailed
            description of that occupation. A nice touch.

Loan Counselors and Officers
Nature of the Work | Working Conditions | Employment | Training, Other Qualifications, and
   Advancement | Job Outlook | Earnings | Related Occupations | Sources of Additional

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       Loan officer positions generally require a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or
   a related field; training or experience in banking, lending, or sales is advantageous.
       Average employment growth is expected for loan officers despite rising demand for
   loans, because technology is making loan processing and approval simpler and faster.
       Earnings often fluctuate with the number of loans generated, rising substantially
   when the economy is good and interest rates are low.

NATURE OF THE WORK                        [About this section]                          Back to Top

For many individuals, taking out a loan may be the only way to afford a house, car, or college
education. For businesses, loans likewise are essential to start many companies, purchase
inventory, or invest in capital equipment. Loan officers facilitate this lending by finding potential
clients and assisting them in applying for loans. Loan officers also gather personal information
about clients and businesses to ensure that an informed decision is made regarding the
creditworthiness of the borrower and the probability of repayment. Loan counselors provide
guidance to prospective loan applicants who have problems qualifying for traditional loans. The
guidance they provide may include determining the most appropriate type of loan for a particular
customer, and explaining specific requirements and restrictions associated with the loan. Some of
the functions of a loan counselor also may be performed by a loan officer. Within some
institutions, such as credit unions, loan counselor is an alternate title for loan officer.

Loan officers usually specialize in commercial, consumer, or mortgage loans. Commercial or
business loans help companies pay for new equipment or expand operations; consumer loans
include home equity, automobile, and personal loans; mortgage loans are made to purchase real
estate or to refinance an existing mortgage. As banks and other financial institutions begin to
offer new types of loans and a growing variety of financial services, loan officers will have to
keep abreast of these new product lines so that they can meet their customers’ needs.

In many instances, loan officers act as salespeople. Commercial loan officers, for example,
contact firms to determine their needs for loans. If a firm is seeking new funds, the loan officer
will try to persuade the company to obtain the loan from his or her institution. Similarly,
mortgage loan officers develop relationships with commercial and residential real estate agencies
so that, when an individual or firm buys a property, the real estate agent might recommend
contacting a specific loan officer for financing.

Once this initial contact has been made, loan officers guide clients through the process of
applying for a loan. This process begins with a formal meeting or telephone call with a
prospective client, during which the loan officer obtains basic information about the purpose of
the loan and explains the different types of loans and credit terms that are available to the
applicant. Loan officers answer questions about the process and sometimes assist clients in
filling out the application.

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After a client completes the application, the loan officer begins the process of analyzing and
verifying the information on the application to determine the client’s creditworthiness. Often,
loan officers can quickly access the client’s credit history by computer and obtain a credit
“score.” This score represents the creditworthiness of a person or business as assigned by a
software program that makes the evaluation. In cases in which a credit history is not available or
in which unusual financial circumstances are present, the loan officer may request additional
financial information from the client or, in the case of commercial loans, copies of the
company’s financial statements. With this information, loan officers who specialize in evaluating
a client’s creditworthiness—often called loan underwriters—may conduct a financial analysis or
other risk assessment. Loan officers include this information and their written comments in a
loan file, which is used to analyze whether the prospective loan meets the lending institution’s
requirements. Loan officers then decide, in consultation with their managers, whether to grant
the loan. If the loan is approved, a repayment schedule is arranged with the client.

A loan may be approved that would otherwise be denied if the customer can provide the lender
with appropriate collateral—property pledged as security for the repayment of a loan. For
example, when lending money for a college education, a bank may insist that borrowers offer
their home as collateral. If the borrowers were ever unable to repay the loan, the home would be
seized under court order and sold to raise the necessary money.

Some loan officers, referred to as loan collection officers, contact borrowers with delinquent loan
accounts to help them find a method of repayment in order to avoid their defaulting on the loan.
If a repayment plan cannot be developed, the loan collection officer initiates collateral
liquidation, in which the lender seizes the collateral used to secure the loan—a home or car, for
example—and sells it to repay the loan.

WORKING CONDITIONS                       [About this section]                         Back to Top

Working as a loan officer usually involves considerable travel. For example, commercial and
mortgage loan officers frequently work away from their offices and rely on laptop computers,
cellular telephones, and pagers to keep in contact with their offices and clients. Mortgage loan
officers often work out of their home or car, visiting offices or homes of clients while completing
loan applications. Commercial loan officers sometimes travel to other cities to prepare complex
loan agreements. Consumer loan officers and loan counselors, however, are likely to spend most
of their time in an office.

Most loan officers and counselors work a standard 40-hour week, but many work longer,
depending on the number of clients and the demand for loans. Mortgage loan officers can work
especially long hours because they are free to take on as many customers as they choose. Loan
officers usually carry a heavy caseload and sometimes cannot accept new clients until they
complete current cases. They are especially busy when interest rates are low, a condition that
triggers a surge in loan applications.

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EMPLOYMENT                               [About this section]                          Back to Top

Loan counselors and officers together held about 255,000 jobs in 2002. The majority of this
employment consisted of loan officers—nearly 88 percent—with the remaining 31,000 jobs
being held by loan counselors. Approximately 40 percent of loan officers and counselors were
employed by commercial banks, savings institutions, and credit unions. Mortgage and consumer
finance companies employed an additional 33 percent. Loan officers are employed throughout
the Nation, but most work in urban and suburban areas. At some banks, particularly in rural
areas, the branch or assistant manager often handles the loan application process.

QUALIFICATIONS, AND                      [About this section]                          Back to Top

Loan officer positions generally require a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or a related
field. Most employers prefer applicants who are familiar with computers and their applications in
banking. For commercial or mortgage loan officer jobs, training or experience in sales is highly
valued by potential employers. Loan officers without college degrees usually advance to these
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.

There are currently no specific licensing requirements for loan counselors and officers working
in banks or credit unions. Training and licensing requirements for loan counselors and officers
who work in mortgage banks or brokerages vary by State. These criteria also may vary
depending on whether workers are employed by a mortgage bank or mortgage brokerage.

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. Completion of these courses and programs generally enhances one’s employment and
advancement opportunities.

Persons planning a career as a loan officer or counselor 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 and counselors 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.

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JOB OUTLOOK                              [About this section]                         Back to Top

Employment of loan counselors and officers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for
all occupations through 2012. College graduates and those with banking, lending, or sales
experience should have the best job prospects. Employment growth stemming from economic
expansion and population increases—factors that generate demand for loans—will be partially
offset by increased automation that speeds lending processes and by the spread of alternative
methods of applying for and obtaining loans. Job opportunities for workers in these occupations
are influenced by the volume of loan applications, which is determined largely by interest rates
and by the overall level of economic activity. However, besides those resulting from growth,
additional job openings will result from the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise
leave the occupation permanently.

The use of credit scoring has made the loan evaluation process much simpler than in the past,
and even unnecessary in some cases. Credit scoring allows loan officers, particularly loan
underwriters, to evaluate many more loans in much less time, thus increasing loan officers’
efficiency. In addition, the mortgage application process has become highly automated and
standardized. This simplification has enabled online mortgage loan vendors to offer loan
shopping services over the Internet. Online vendors accept loan applications from customers
over the Internet and determine which lenders have the best interest rates for particular loans.
With this knowledge, customers can go directly to the lending institution, thereby bypassing
mortgage loan brokers. Shopping for loans on the Internet—though currently not a widespread
practice—is expected to become more common over the next 10 years, particularly for
mortgages, thus reducing demand for loan officers.

Although loans remain a major source of revenue for banks, demand for new loans fluctuates and
affects the income and employment opportunities of loan officers. When the economy is on the
upswing or when interest rates decline dramatically, there is a surge in real estate buying and
mortgage refinancing that requires loan officers to work long hours processing applications and
induces lenders to hire additional loan officers. Loan officers often are paid by commission on
the value of the loans they place, and some have high earnings when demand for mortgages is
high. When the real estate market slows, loan officers often suffer a decline in earnings and may
even be subject to layoffs. The same applies to commercial loan officers, whose workloads
increase during good economic times as companies seek to invest more in their businesses. In
difficult economic conditions, loan collection officers are likely to see an increase in the number
of delinquent loans.

EARNINGS                                 [About this section]                         Back to Top

Median annual earnings of loan counselors were $32,010 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned
between $26,330 and $41,660. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,800, while the top 10
percent earned more than $57,400.

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Median annual earnings of loan officers were $43,980 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned
between $32,360 and $62,160. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,790, while the top 10
percent earned more than $88,450. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the
largest numbers of loan officers in 2002 were:

          Activities related to credit intermediation                            $47,240
          Management of companies and enterprises                                  46,420
          Nondepository credit intermediation                                      44,770
          Depository credit intermediation                                         41,450

The form of compensation for loan officers varies. Most loan officers are paid a commission that
is based on the number of loans they originate. In this way, commissions are used to motivate
loan officers to bring in more loans. Some institutions pay only salaries, while others pay their
loan officers a salary plus a commission or bonus based on the number of loans originated.
Banks and other lenders sometimes offer their loan officers free checking privileges and
somewhat lower interest rates on personal loans.

According to a salary survey conducted by Robert Half International, a staffing services firm
specializing in accounting and finance, mortgage loan officers earned between $36,000 and
$45,750 in 2002; consumer loan officers with 1 to 3 years of experience earned between $42,250
and $56,750; and commercial loan officers with 1 to 3 years of experience made between
$48,000 and $64,500. With over 3 years of experience, commercial loan officers made between
$66,000 and $92,000, and consumer loan officers earned between $55,500 and $75,750.
Earnings of loan officers with graduate degrees or professional certifications were approximately
10 to 15 percent higher than these figures. Loan officers who are paid on a commission basis
usually earn more than those on salary only, and those who work for smaller banks generally
earn less than those employed by larger institutions.

RELATED OCCUPATIONS                       [About this section]                          Back to Top

Loan officers help the public manage financial assets and secure loans. Occupations that involve
similar functions include those of securities and financial services sales representatives, personal
financial advisors, real estate brokers and sales agents, and insurance sales agents.

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LoftusREF.doc                                   David Loftus                  Page 16 of 33
Coun. 511, Spring 2005, Assignment 3, Research Paper

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Each sentence below has one or two blanks, each blank indicating that something has
been omitted. Beneath the sentence are five words or sets of words labeled A through
E. Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the
meaning of the sentence as a whole.


Hoping to _______ the dispute, negotiators proposed a compromise that they felt
would be _______ to both labor and management.

    (A)      enforce . . useful
    (B)         end . . divisive
    (C) overcome . . unattractive
    (D)    extend . . satisfactory
    (E)    resolve . . acceptable

LoftusREF.doc                              David Loftus               Page 17 of 33
Coun. 511, Spring 2005, Assignment 3, Research Paper

Correct answer: (E)



One way to answer a sentence completion question with two words missing is to focus
first on just one of the two blanks. If one of the words in an answer choice is logically
wrong, then you can eliminate the entire choice from consideration.

Apply to college online!
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Colleges that match your search criteria appear in your search results. Many include an option to apply online.
Depending upon the school, clicking on the Apply button will take you either directly to the application, to the
school’s Web site from which you can link to the school’s application, or to the Common Application, used by
over 240 colleges and universities all over the country.
Click on the Continue button below to start your college search
Counselor-O-Matic is an advanced search engine that combines your academic and
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Look atYour search returned: 1 matches.
The results below may be organized into two sections. Within each section, institutions are listed alphabetically.
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Widener University                              Email     Visit     Detail   Microsite Apply
Chester, Pennsylvania

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