What Is a Credit Analyst?
The term credit analyst refers to a financial professional who assesses the creditworthiness of securities, individuals, or companies. Credit analysts determine the likelihood that a borrower can repay their financial obligations by reviewing their financial and credit history and determining whether the state of the subject’s financial health and the economic conditions are favorable to repayment.
These professionals generally have an academic background in finance, accounting, or a related field. Credit analysts can find work in different financial institutions.
How do Credit Analysts work?
A credit analyst gathers and analyzes financial data associated with lending and credit products. This includes reviewing a borrower’s payment history, along with liabilities, earnings, and assets they possess. The analyst looks for indicators that the borrower might present a level of risk. The data are used to recommend the approval or denial of credit and to determine whether to increase or reduce credit limits or charge additional fees.
A key component of their jobs is to interpret financial statements and use ratios to analyze the fiduciary behavior and history of a potential borrower. They decide whether the borrower has adequate cash flows by comparing ratios with industry data benchmarks. For example, a credit analyst working at a bank may examine an agricultural company’s financial statements before approving a loan for new farm equipment.
Credit analysts are required to have a background in finance, economics, math, accounting, or other related field. Candidates with bachelor’s degrees and experience are preferred, although a potential employer may overlook experience if someone has a graduate degree. Some analysts also have advanced certification, such as training offered through the National Association of Credit Analysts.
Employment is offered at a variety of financial institutions, including banks, investment companies, credit unions, credit rating agencies, insurance companies, and asset management companies. Analysts who work in securities, commodity contracts, and other areas of financial investments earn the highest salaries.
What is the Average Credit Analyst Salary?
The average credit analyst salary can depend on the level of expertise of an individual or company where the credit analyst is employed, as well as the industry. For example, credit analysts in the private sector may, on average, earn higher salaries than credit analysts working in government organizations.
- The average credit analyst salary in the US, as of 2019, is $55,000 annually, and it can differ depending on the industry, company, and state where one is employed.
- Credit analysts with several years’ experience, industry certifications, and higher education qualifications earn higher salaries than junior analysts.
- The cost of living in specific states may influence the level of salary that a credit analyst is paid. Credit analysts working in states such as New York are paid higher salaries.
Salary Ranges for Credit Analysts
The average credit analyst salary in the United States ranges anywhere from $45,000 to $55,000. While the figure can go higher or lower depending on the state, salaries paid to credit analysts in most states lie within the abovementioned range.
The state of New York offers the highest salaries since it is one of the states with the highest cost of living in the United States. Conversely, Puerto Rico gives the lowest average salaries for credit analysts, since Puerto Ricans enjoy the lowest cost of living across all US states. On average, the highest-paying companies can pay up to $110, 000 annually, while the lowest-paying company can average $35,000 annually.
Senior Credit Analyst
A senior credit analyst is at the helm of the credit analysis career, and they report to the top-level management team of the organization. Senior credit analysts earn the highest salaries, and the average salary is $69,000 annually. Those employed in the private sector earn higher salaries on average compared to their counterparts working in government entities.
Senior credit analysts are better positioned to join the senior management after they’ve gained enough working experience to be part of the executive team. The average working experience for senior credit analysts is 12 years.
The main responsibility of a senior credit analyst is to review loan applications and approve applications that meet the criteria set by the company. When the credit application reaches the senior credit analyst’s desk, it has gone through scrutiny and information gathering at the departmental level.
Junior credit analysts perform the initial review to verify that the information provided by the client is true. The information that goes to the senior credit analyst’s desk is usually accurate and verified, and the analyst is required to review the recommendations of the junior analyst and make a decision on whether to uphold or review the application based on the facts submitted. The senior analyst can approve or decline the loan application request, with explanations of the decision.
Mid-level Credit Analysts
The average midlevel credit analyst’s salary ranges from $50,000 to $55,000 yearly. The mid-level credit analyst does most of the work in the credit analysis department. They are tasked with ensuring that the information submitted by the client is accurate and reliable. They will often visit the client’s business or collateral locations to ascertain the reality on the ground.
The bank places a load of responsibility on its shoulders to ascertain the creditworthiness of the client and to follow up on the progress of the client’s business after disbursements are made. Although the bank can send different officers to the client’s business to monitor their progress, the mid-level credit analyst assigned to a specific client must carry the burden to ensure the client makes timely repayments.
Junior Level Credit Analysts
The average salary for junior credit analysts ranges from $25,000 to $30,000 yearly. The junior-level employees are beginners in the industry, and they are still learning the ropes while gaining basic experience in the field. Junior credit analysts work long hours to make sure that the key functions of the department are delivered without fail.
Junior-level officers are tasked with the responsibility of collecting all the information required to process a credit request. They make first-hand contact with the client, and they are the persons who receive the loan application from the client.
The junior-level analysts are also responsible for leading business sales by introducing the company’s products to potential clients. They collect the client’s financial information, testimonials, and other important documentation to facilitate the verification process.
Level of Experience
The level of experience of credit analysts determines the amount of salary they earn. Consequently, experience provides an advantage in the industry and analysts with more experience command higher salaries than entry-level staff. Experience is often based on the number of years one has worked in the credit management industry in a relevant position.
Credit analyst requirements
Obtaining a position as a credit analyst may involve certain requirements depending on the level of jobs for which you’re applying, including:
A credit analyst is usually required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or related discipline. Earning this degree provides you with knowledge essential for risk assessment, including statistics, economics, ratio analysis, calculus, industry assessment, and financial statement analysis.
Some employers may not require a completed bachelor’s degree and will provide on-the-job training to employees without finance-related degrees. Typically, these companies require some work experience in an accounting or finance-related field.
While the technical specifications for the job, such as risk assessment, are taught in a classroom setting, on-the-job training provides the specifics regarding the company’s specific needs and procedures.;
Credit analysts with relevant experience may transfer learned skills such as customer service and analytical thinking to work for a new employer.
Industry certifications add validity to your qualifications and let current and future employers know that you’re a competent and trustworthy professional. There are dozens of certification programs that credit analysts can take to gain advanced knowledge of their career possibilities and job duties and test their professional skills. Here are some of the most common certifications for this profession:
- Certified Credit and Risk Analyst (CCRA): Awarded by the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), the designation is academically-based and verifies mastery in the analysis and interpretation of financial statements and the ability to make informed credit risk assessments.
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): Administered by the American Academy of Financial Management, this advanced certification provides a model for quality professional practice and performance as well as demonstrates a professional’s dedication to the continuation of their education and skills. The CFA certification demonstrates proficiency and encourages continued professional development.
- Certified Risk Analyst (CRA): This certification is awarded by the Global Academy of Finance and Management (GAFM), which is recognized throughout the industry as an objective and respected certifying body. The requirements for certification include completion of a GAFM-accredited course or a master’s degree in accounting or finance, along with three years of experience and an agreement to continuing education through GAFM. This credential must be renewed on an annual basis.
Credit analysts use a wide range of skills to succeed in this role. Some specific skills include:
- Attention to detail: Credit analysts must possess the ability to pay extreme attention to detail, as even the smallest error can lead to an incorrect analysis of a customer and may cause potentially costly problems for the client involved.
- Communication: A credit analyst must be able to effectively communicate decisions and solutions and the reasons for them to a range of people via email, telephone or in person. They must also maintain clear, respectful interaction with clients and lenders to gather and share information and ask questions to resolve problems.
- Research and analysis skills: A credit analyst creates and studies sets of numbers and know exactly what they mean for each client. Sometimes a credit analyst is assigned to work with companies that operate in any given industry. For this reason, research may be appropriate to gain a detailed understanding of the industry.
- Technical skills: A credit analyst has to be comfortable with word processing, spreadsheet, database and financial software to effectively analyze customer data. Basic office skills, such as the ability to use copiers, printers, scanners, fax machines and phones, are also necessary to complete day-to-day tasks.
- Time management: Credit analysts must be able to efficiently but thoroughly work on multiple projects for multiple clients at once and prioritize these projects effectively.
Credit analyst work environment
Credit analysts generally work in a relatively fast-paced office setting with a standard 40-hour workweek. They use financial software programs daily to evaluate applicants’ financial health. Other characteristics of this environment include:
- Sitting at a desk for extended periods of time
- Analyzing financial data to determine expected profitability of loans
- Completing loan applications, preparing credit analyses and submitting to loan committees for approval
- Preparing contracts or other financial documents and reviewing for accuracy
- Consulting with customers to verify financial and credit transactions
The education, skills, and experience of credit analysts can be transferable in many industries. These professionals can offer their skills to the following:
- Health care
How to become a credit analyst
Here are the most common steps to follow to become a credit analyst:
- Pursue education. After graduating from high school or receive the equivalent certification, review local job listings in your intended industry to determine the level of education is typically required. Earn the level of education that seems most in-demand and pursue continuing education to stay up-to-date on changes in your industry.
- Gain relevant work experience. Many new credit analysts begin their careers working in adjacent industries, such as banking or collections, and then use that experience to advance and get a job as a credit analyst.
- Earn technical certifications. Though not required by law, you may consider earning professional financial certifications in risk analysis and lending to sharpen your applicable skills and satisfy an employer’s potential requirement.
- Prepare your resume. Include your highest level of education, along with relevant certifications and your work history. Highlight your industry-specific achievements or those that utilize your transferable skills. Keeping it concise, relevant and clear will help your resume stand out among other applicants.
- Apply to entry-level or support roles. Review the current job market for your area and apply to positions that you are qualified for. Creating a compelling cover letter that highlights the specific skills and traits you possess will emphasize your suitability for the role.
Credit analyst job description example
Lending Giants is seeking a credit analyst to join a growing team supporting the underwriting needs of our small business loan department. The person in this role will be responsible for tasks requiring research and analysis, in-depth evaluation, and sound judgment, such as recommending new credit and extensions of credit. The ideal candidate for this position must be able to demonstrate exceptional communication skills.
Our credit analyst will verify credit and financial records as well as prepare reports with credit information for use in decision-making.
Other responsibilities include:
- Updating customer information and verifying accuracy as needed
- Processing, evaluating and completing financial analysis on loan requests
- Monitoring and maintaining the overall credit quality of existing loan facilities
- Analyzing cash flow reports
- Making sure that all required documentation is obtained complete
Requirements for this role:
- Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or related field
- A minimum of three years as a credit or financial analyst
- Software proficiency
- Ability to conduct research and evaluate data to make informed decisions
- Strong mathematical and analytical skills
- Ability and willingness to maintain strict confidentiality of sensitive information