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How to Become a Credit Analyst

Written by: Wilson College   •  Dec 20, 2023
A credit analyst uses a laptop to review financial charts.

How to Become a Credit Analyst

Issuing loans to borrowers is among the most common practices in the financial industry. For individuals, loans may be used to purchase a car or home, or pursue an investment opportunity. For companies, loans may be applied to expand a business, purchase new equipment, or buy essential supplies.

However, individuals and companies can’t simply ask their local financial institutions for a loan and expect to receive it. They must first demonstrate they can pay the loan back—prove they are worth the financial risk. Credit analysts oversee the vetting process of potential borrowers.

As representatives of their lending institutions, credit analysts review relevant documentation and the financial backgrounds of potential borrowers. They also factor in the current state of the financial market and other variables that may influence a loan. 

If a credit analyst determines a loan is worth the risk, they draw up loan terms that meet the borrower’s financial needs while also benefiting the lending institution. Conversely, if a credit analyst deems a loan to be too risky, the borrower’s request may be rejected, or the credit analyst may seek new loan terms to protect all parties involved.

Those who are interested in becoming a credit analyst should have a natural affinity for working with numbers and a formal education in finance. After exploring what a credit analyst does, we’ll break down the main steps to qualify for the role.  

What Does a Credit Analyst Do?

Regardless of the borrower or the amount they’re requesting, all loans come with a degree of risk. For example, loaning $10,000 to an individual who makes $250,000 per year in salary and has an 800+ credit score would likely be viewed as low risk. The same loan to someone who is self-employed with a spotty credit history that featured accounts in collections and a recent bankruptcy would likely be viewed as high risk.

Credit analysts weigh relevant information about a person or organization to determine their creditworthiness. Their typical duties include:

  • Reviewing credit applications from potential borrowers
  • Reviewing loan proposals created by associates
  • Requesting relevant financial documentation from potential borrowers
  • Using financial software to evaluate borrowers and generate reports
  • Assisting with financial audits
  • Pulling and analyzing credit reports
  • Performing cash flow analysis and determining financial ratios
  • Evaluating individuals and organizations to determine creditworthiness
  • Drawing up loan proposal terms and submitting them for approval by the financial institution
  • Reviewing loan proposal terms with borrowers 

Steps to Become a Credit Analyst

When identifying how to become a credit analyst, it’s important to note there is no single path. However, those who are serious about entering the competitive world of finance and banking should consider the following steps. 

1. Earn a Degree

Most employers require their credit analysts to possess at least a bachelor’s degree in either finance, economics, accounting, or a related discipline. Some employers may be open to hiring candidates with a different type of degree and providing in-house credit analyst training. 

2. Develop Key Skills

Credit analysts must possess certain technical skills to be effective. Many of these are developed in finance degree programs and during on-the-job training. The most in-demand credit analyst skills include:

  • Effective written and verbal communication
  • Spreadsheet and word processing proficiency
  • Database management and data analysis
  • Financial software proficiency
  • Advanced knowledge of the financial industry and market trends
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to perform legal due diligence
  • Mathematics proficiency
  • Time management
  • Multitasking

3. Gain Work Experience

Most graduates with a finance degree must earn experience as an associate or junior analyst before becoming a credit analyst. Typically, they work in a supporting role for a few years under the guidance of a credit analyst to learn the basics and further develop their skills. As they grow into the role, junior analysts are assigned more responsibilities and given greater autonomy. 

4. Earn Certifications

Professional credentials can be a key step in becoming a credit analyst. Like a degree, certifications demonstrate that an individual has a certain level of knowledge and skill in a particular competency. For credit analysts who wish to expand their career opportunities, certifications can be especially effective. However, they must be industry-recognized, and they must align with the role the candidate is pursuing.

The following are three common certifications for credit analysts to consider.

  • The Certified Credit and Risk AnalystSM (CCRASM) issued by the National Association of Credit Management demonstrates proficiency in evaluating financial documentation and making credit risk assessments. 
  • Issued by the American Academy of Financial Management, the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential demonstrates the individual possesses the financial skill and competencies to provide the highest level of professional practice. It is one of the highest regarded credentials in finance.
  • Aspiring credit analysts should also explore the Certified Risk Analyst (CRA) credential, issued by the Global Academy of Finance and Management (GAFM). This credential demonstrates the candidate possesses the required skills and competencies to perform risk analysis and assessment in numerous scenarios. 

Certifications are not necessarily required by banking and financial institutions to become a credit analyst. However, some organizations strongly prefer candidates who possess professional credentials. 

Credit Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

Is a finance degree worth it? Can students feel confident today’s opportunities will still exist when their formal education and training have concluded? The data illustrates a career as a credit analyst will continue to be in demand.

Credit analysts made an annual median salary of $78,850 in May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Education level, experience, region, and other factors can all influence compensation.

The BLS projects positions for financial risk specialists—a similar position to credit analyst—will increase 8% by 2032, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations combined. 

Earn the Education You Need to Start a Career in Finance

Credit analysts serve a critical role in the finance and banking industry by thoroughly vetting potential borrowers and helping protect lending institutions. Further, they assist individuals and organizations in securing the funding for property purchases, business endeavors, investment opportunities, and any number of financial objectives.

If you are interested in becoming a credit analyst, you would do well to explore your educational options, such as the Wilson College Online Bachelor of Arts in Finance program. In the program, you will take foundational courses that prepare you to enter a career in finance, including:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • International Business
  • Strategic Management
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Principles of Finance

Find out how Wilson College Online can support your professional aspirations of becoming a credit analyst.

Recommended Readings

How to Get Funding for a Startup

Is a Finance Degree Worth It?

What Can You Do With a Business Management Degree?

Sources:

Corporate Financial Institute, “Credit Analyst Career Path”

Indeed, “How To Become a Certified Credit Analyst (With Certification Options)”

Indeed, “What Does a Credit Analyst Do? (Plus Salary and Skills)”

Investopedia, “Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Definition and Exams”

Investopedia, “Credit Analyst Definition, Work, Required Skills, Job Prospects”

National Association of Credit Management, Certified Credit and Risk Analyst

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Credit Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts

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