Ultimately, loan officers have the ability to earn several hundred thousand dollars a year (or more) if they work hard and make the right connections. Often, loan officers implicitly or explicitly partner with a real estate agent or office so that they can provide financing to their home buying prospects. They also educate consumers about loans, verify financial information, and contact individuals and businesses to see if they apply for a loan. I also have 3 co-workers who are ER agents, so not only does it make me think I can do it, but I now have potential clients for new loans.
A loan officer can get these leads and make no-obligation pre-approvals for those customers to earn them. As the article mentions, you can do very well as a loan officer, but many quit or don't do it very well. Once the borrower decides on the terms, type, and size of the loan, the information passes to the mortgage processor, who then submits the documentation. As noted, MLOs are generally not paid by the hour, but rather are paid a fee for the loans they provide and finance.
The main benefit of a loan processor is that they help streamline the mortgage loan application process. Some loan officers are paid a fixed salary or hourly rate, but others earn commissions in addition to their regular compensation. Of course, they can also be the ones who tend to work in call centers and simply insert numbers into a loan application, rather than finding creative loan solutions. I've wanted to become a loan officer for three years; but I've been scared because I had a friend whose husband didn't make money as a loan officer; he didn't have leads, etc.
The loan processor makes sure you have all the right documentation organized to apply for the loan. I agree, loan processors are the unsung heroes of the mortgage world, and they often know the guidelines, necessary conditions, and potential red flags for most loan files inside and out.