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Become An Underwriter

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Working As An Underwriter

  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $69,627

    Average Salary

What Does An Underwriter Do

Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. 

Duties

Loan officers typically do the following:

  • Contact companies or people to ask if they need a loan
  • Meet with loan applicants to gather personal information and answer questions
  • Explain different types of loans and the terms of each one to applicants
  • Obtain, verify, and analyze the applicant’s financial information, such as the credit rating and income level
  • Review loan agreements to ensure that they comply with federal and state regulations
  • Approve loan applications or refer them to management for a decision

Loan officers use a process called underwriting to assess whether applicants qualify for loans. After collecting and verifying all the required financial documents, the loan officer evaluates the information they obtain to determine the applicant’s need for a loan and ability to pay back the loan. Most firms use underwriting software, which produces a recommendation for the loan based on the applicant’s financial status. After the underwriting software produces a recommendation, loan officers review the output of the software and consider any additional information to make a final decision.

The work of loan officers has sizable customer-service and sales components. Loan officers often answer questions and guide customers through the application process. In addition, many loan officers must market the products and services of their lending institution and actively solicit new business. 

The following are common types of loan officers:

Commercial loan officers specialize in loans to businesses, which often use the loans to buy supplies and upgrade or expand operations. Commercial loans frequently are larger and more complicated than other types of loans. Because companies have such complex financial situations and statements, commercial loans usually require human judgment in addition to the analysis by underwriting software. Furthermore, some commercial loans are so large that no single bank will provide the entire amount requested. In such cases, loan officers may have to work with multiple banks to put together a package of loans. 

Consumer loan officers specialize in loans to people. Consumers take out loans for many reasons, such as buying a car or paying college tuition. For some simple consumer loans, the underwriting process is fully automated. However, the loan officer is still needed to guide applicants through the process and to handle cases with unusual circumstances. Some institutions—usually small banks and credit unions—do not use underwriting software and instead rely on loan officers to complete the underwriting process manually.

Mortgage loan officers specialize in loans used to buy real estate (property and buildings), which are called mortgage loans. Mortgage loan officers work on loans for both residential and commercial properties. Often, mortgage loan officers must seek out clients, which requires developing relationships with real estate companies and other sources that can refer prospective applicants. 

Within these three fields, some loan officers specialize in a particular part of the loan process:

Loan collection officers contact borrowers who fail to make their loan payments on time. They work with borrowers to help them find a way to keep paying off the loan. If the borrower continues to miss payments, loan officers start the process of taking away what the borrower used to secure the loan (called “collateral”)—often a home or car—and selling it to repay the loan. 

Loan underwriters specialize in evaluating whether a client is creditworthy. They collect, verify, and evaluate the client’s financial information provided on their loan applications and then use loan underwriting software to produce recommendations.

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How To Become An Underwriter

Most loan officers need a bachelor’s degree and receive on-the-job training. Mortgage loan officers must be licensed.

Education

Loan officers typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in a field such as business or finance. Because commercial loan officers analyze the finances of businesses applying for credit, they need to understand general business accounting, including how to read financial statements.  

Some loan officers may be able to enter the occupation without a bachelor’s degree if they have related work experience, such as experience in sales, customer service, or banking. 

Training

Once hired, loan officers usually receive some on-the-job training. This may be a combination of formal, company-sponsored training and informal training during the first few months on the job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Mortgage loan officers must have a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license. To become licensed, they must complete at least 20 hours of coursework, pass an exam, and submit to background and credit checks. Licenses must be renewed annually, and individual states may have additional requirements.

Several banking associations, including the American Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association, as well as a number of schools, offer courses, training programs, or certifications for loan officers. Although not required, certification shows dedication and expertise and thus may enhance a candidate’s employment opportunities. 

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Loan officers must assess an applicant’s financial information and decide whether to award the applicant a loan. 

Detail oriented. Each piece of information on an application can have a major effect on the profitability of a loan, meaning that loan officers must pay attention to detail.

Initiative. Loan officers need to seek out new clients. They often act as salespeople, promoting their lending institution and contacting firms to determine their need for a loan.

Interpersonal skills. Because loan officers work with people, they must be able to guide customers through the application process and answer their questions.

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Underwriter jobs

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Underwriter Career Paths

Underwriter
Consumer Loan Underwriter Mortgage Underwriter Senior Underwriter
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Analyst Quality Assurance Manager Operations Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Credit Analyst Credit Manager Loan Officer
Branch Manager/Loan Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Operations Manager Branch Manager
Branch Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Claims Adjuster Billing Specialist Credit Analyst
Credit Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Underwriter Account Executive Assistant Vice President
Credit Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Team Manager Sales Consultant Internet Sales Manager
Finance And Insurance Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Auditor Internal Auditor Controller
Finance Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Assistant Vice President Human Resources Coordinator Business Analyst
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Credit Analyst Consumer Loan Underwriter
Lending Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Auditor Accountant Senior Finance Analyst
Manager Finance Planning And Analysis
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Analyst Business Analyst Assistant Vice President
Manager, Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Vice President Project Manager Program Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Business Manager Property Manager
Portfolio Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Business Analyst Product Manager Operations Manager
Regional Operation Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mortgage Underwriter Senior Underwriter
Underwriting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Underwriter Assistant Vice President
Vice President And Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Consumer Loan Underwriter Senior Underwriter Assistant Vice President
Vice President Operation Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Health Underwriter 5.3 years
Life Underwriter 5.3 years
Senior Underwriter 4.4 years
Marine Underwriter 4.2 years
Underwriter 3.0 years
Loan Reviewer 2.9 years
Lender 2.7 years
Loan Analyst 2.4 years
Loan Auditor 2.2 years
Junior Underwriter 2.2 years
Mortgage Analyst 1.9 years
Top Employers Before
Processor 4.4%
Top Employers After
Analyst 3.2%
Auditor 2.9%
Processor 2.4%

Underwriter Demographics

Gender

Female

60.1%

Male

37.9%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

78.7%

Hispanic or Latino

11.6%

Asian

7.5%

Unknown

1.7%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.3%

French

4.5%

Chinese

4.3%

Mandarin

4.3%

Carrier

3.5%

Russian

2.9%

Cantonese

2.4%

Italian

2.4%

Korean

1.9%

Portuguese

1.9%

Hindi

1.6%

German

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Hmong

1.3%

Japanese

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Armenian

0.8%

Greek

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Urdu

0.8%
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Underwriter Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

26.5%

Strayer University

5.5%

Temple University

4.7%

Illinois State University

4.7%

University of North Texas

4.6%

Georgia State University

4.2%

University of South Florida

4.1%

Florida State College at Jacksonville

4.1%

Kaplan University

4.0%

Liberty University

3.8%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.8%

University of Connecticut

3.8%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

Ashford University

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.3%

Michigan State University

3.2%

Florida State University

3.2%

Iowa State University

3.2%

University of North Florida

3.0%

University of Florida

3.0%
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Majors

Business

38.5%

Finance

11.7%

Accounting

7.7%

Management

4.3%

Marketing

4.0%

Psychology

3.4%

Economics

3.2%

Communication

3.0%

Real Estate

2.8%

Insurance

2.6%

Political Science

2.6%

Criminal Justice

2.3%

Education

2.2%

Liberal Arts

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.7%

General Studies

1.7%

English

1.7%

Human Resources Management

1.7%

Law

1.5%

Legal Support Services

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.5%

Other

25.7%

Masters

14.2%

Associate

8.9%

Certificate

3.9%

Doctorate

1.2%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.8%
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Temporary

Real Underwriter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Underwriter, Weather and Energy Westport Insurance Corporation New York, NY Jun 21, 2016 $220,000 -
$225,000
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Insurance Company Miami, FL Apr 03, 2015 $183,600
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Insurance Company Miami, FL Aug 04, 2015 $180,000
Program Underwriter R-T Specialty, LLC Glendale, CA Oct 24, 2011 $175,000
Lead Underwriter and Arranger Royal Bank of Canada New York, NY Jul 27, 2015 $170,000
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Latin America Underwriting Managers LLC Jacksonville, FL Apr 03, 2012 $150,000 -
$175,000
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Latin America Underwriting Managers LLC Miami, FL Jun 11, 2012 $150,000 -
$175,000
Consortium Energy/Engineering Underwriter Navigators Management Company, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 30, 2015 $150,000 -
$200,000
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Insurance Company Miami, FL May 20, 2013 $150,000 -
$175,000
Regional Casualty Underwriter Berkley Insurance Company Miami, FL May 15, 2013 $150,000 -
$175,000
Underwriter Atrium Risk Management Services (Washington) Ltd. San Francisco, CA Oct 18, 2015 $135,000
Underwriter Westport Insurance Corporation New York, NY Nov 18, 2016 $130,000 -
$135,000
Underwriter The Debt Exchange, Inc. Boston, MA Sep 16, 2013 $94,700
Credit Underwriter Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. New York, NY Sep 03, 2015 $91,000 -
$100,000
Facultative Underwriter Validus Services, Inc. Groveland, FL Sep 01, 2011 $90,000
Underwriter 4 Suntrust Banks, Inc. Orlando, FL Oct 13, 2011 $87,000
Underwriter AXA Insurance Company New York, NY Sep 01, 2012 $85,000
Treaty Underwriter Swiss Re America Holding Corporation Armonk, NY Jan 01, 2011 $85,000
Treaty Underwriter (Reinsurance) Swiss Re America Holding Corporation Miami, FL Apr 03, 2012 $85,000
Assistant Underwriter Validus Services Inc. New York, NY Oct 31, 2012 $85,000
Underwriter II-Tax Credit The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Pittsburgh, PA Jul 09, 2016 $73,700
Casualty Facultative Underwriter Everest Reinsurance Company Miami, FL Sep 01, 2013 $70,000
Excess Umbrella Underwriter Nations Builders Insurance Services, Inc. Atlanta, GA Nov 22, 2012 $69,000
Market Facing Underwriter II Zurich American Insurance Company New York, NY Dec 02, 2013 $68,100
Underwriter FORA Financial, LLC New York, NY Sep 17, 2014 $67,431
Underwriter Aspen Insurance Us Services, Inc. Boston, MA Aug 27, 2014 $66,125
Underwriter Hiscox Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 13, 2015 $66,000
Production Underwriter Affiliated FM Insurance Company Plano, TX Oct 01, 2012 $65,478 -
$90,000

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Top Skills for An Underwriter

InvestorGuidelinesIncomeDocumentationEnsureComplianceFHACreditReportsAppraisalCustomerServiceFannieMAEUnderwritingGuidelinesLoanFilesLoanApplicationsBusinessTaxReturnsLossFreddieMacDu/LPLoanPackagesLoanProcessorsDebtRatioLoanDocumentsFinancialStatements

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Top Underwriter Skills

  1. Investor Guidelines
  2. Income Documentation
  3. Ensure Compliance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Approved and Denied first and second mortgages according to investor guidelines.
  • Reviewed credit, income documentation, appraisal and title documents necessary to decision completed file.
  • Underwrite loans to ensure compliance with lenders and investors standards.
  • Prepare a weekly report for account ability of supplemental FHA claims.
  • Analyze credit reports and financial documentation to classify and qualify loans according to company guidelines.

Top Underwriter Employers

Underwriter Videos

The Role of a Mortgage Underwriter

Career: Insurance Underwriter

How To Work As An Insurance Underwriter

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