Becoming a mortgage underwriter takes dedication. Although not a requirement, most successful mortgage underwriters complete high school, earn a bachelor’s degree, receive on-the-job training, and obtain a mortgage underwriter certificate. You can make around $90,000 a year as a mortgage underwriter through commission or other fees.
A mortgage underwriter in the United States can earn around $90,000 a year through commission, interest, spread, or premiums. Becoming a mortgage underwriter can be a great career choice for those with a degree in finance, business, accounting, or a related field.
Unlike loan officers, mortgage underwriters don’t require a state license to work. Although there aren’t any formal education requirements either, that doesn’t mean becoming a successful mortgage underwriter is easy. Most mortgage underwriters do invest substantial time and resources in education and professional certification. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a mortgage underwriter.
How to become a mortgage underwriter in 3 steps
The steps to becoming a mortgage underwriter are earning a high school diploma and bachelor’s degree, and doing training opportunities in entry-level positions. Though this isn’t required, you can improve your career prospects and earnings potential by doing an internship and earning a certificate.
1. Earning an education
High school classes
The first step to becoming a certified mortgage loan underwriter is earning your high school diploma or GED. Taking extra math or accounting classes in high school is a good way to prepare for a career in mortgage underwriting.
Mortgage firms, loan officers, and banks tend to look for mortgage underwriter candidates who have four-year degrees. Seek out a college that offers a bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, or accounting. You can also benefit from taking courses specializing in business law or insurance. Following graduation, you can start applying for entry-level mortgage underwriter positions.
Doing an internship while in college is a great way to network and get into the industry. Internships are usually offered to currently enrolled college students or recent graduates. An aspiring mortgage underwriter should look for internships at loan offices, banks, or other financial institutions. You can also search online for internships in investment, banking, or credit analysis.
2. Get training and experience
Apply for an entry-level position
Entry-level mortgage underwriter jobs are usually assistant or trainee positions. These positions offer you the opportunity to get more familiar with the industry. Assistant or trainee positions often lead to working in higher positions and making important connections.
Most entry-level positions include on-the-job training that will help you be a better mortgage underwriter. These trainings can include formal or informal software classes. These opportunities will help you better understand what daily work life is like, build your professional network, and take advantage of networking opportunities.
3. Get certified
While not required to become a mortgage underwriter, getting a mortgage underwriter certification can increase your average salary by five to 10%. Certifications are offered by the National Association of Mortgage Underwriters (NAMU). The two certification options are:
Certified Mortgage Underwriter
- 12 hours of mortgage underwriter training courses
- Passing an exam with at least an 85%.
- Passing a criminal background check.
Certified Master Mortgage Underwriter
A more advanced professional certification.
- 24 hours of mortgage underwriter training courses
- Passing an exam with at least 85%.
- Passing a criminal background check.
What is a mortgage underwriter?
A mortgage underwriter helps determine if borrowers meet all of a lender’s loans requirements, whether their mortgage loan applications will be approved, and how they will pay their mortgages. A big part of a mortgage underwriter’s job is to conduct a risk analysis and decide if a mortgage loan is worth taking. Mortgage underwriting is the final step before a borrower obtains a mortgage loan.
A mortgage underwriter should know how to read financial documents, such as credit reports, W2s, mortgage loan applications, financial statements, and more. With the proper mortgage underwriter education, a mortgage writer should become familiar with underwriting guidelines, analyze financial data, and conduct a risk analysis.
Mortgage loan underwriters are also referred to as mortgage writers.
What does a mortgage underwriter do?
A mortgage loan underwriter performs a number of essential tasks. Mortgage underwriters:
- Make sure borrowers can repay the mortgage loans.
- Ensure that each borrower can meet all requirements of a mortgage program.
- Review each loan applicant’s tax returns, pay stubs, W2s, home appraisal, debt-to-income ratio, credit reports, income, title search, and more.
- Make sure all required documents are complete, accurate, and present.
- Predict interest rate risk, default risk, and pre-payment risk.
How much does a mortgage underwriter make?
The average salary for a mortgage writer is around $90,000 per year in the United States. Mortgage underwriters generally earn their income through commission, premium, interest, or spread. Earning a mortgage underwriter certificate can increase a mortgage writer’s income by five to 10%.
As of January 2022, the United States cities where a mortgage underwriter can earn the most per year are:
New York, NY
San Antonio, TX
How can I advance my career as a mortgage underwriter?
To advance in your career as a mortgage underwriter, you should become familiar with the different kinds of risks, reading various financial statements, and developing specialized skills. Most of these skills will be developed through on-the-job training and education.
As mentioned above, earning a bachelor’s degree in a finance related subject is not a requirement but will certainly help. Here are three other things that could help you advance your career as a mortgage underwriter.
Learn risk analysis
Being a mortgage underwriter involves a lot of risk analysis. Most of a mortgage underwriter’s daily tasks involve analyzing loan packages and reviewing mortgage applications. A mortgage underwriter looks for:
- Default risk: Borrowers who may be unable to pay off their mortgage loans, resulting in default, pose this risk.
- Interest rate risk: This is the potential for losses due to shifting interest rates.
- Prepayment risk: Assessing this risk requires predicting how likely borrowers are to pay off their mortgage loans ahead of time.
Understand the industry
A mortgage underwriter must become familiar with underwriting guidelines, examining credit reports and income papers, and calculating debt-to-income ratio. Being able to understand and analyze these documents will help you be a successful and valued mortgage underwriter.
Develop specialized skills
In order to advance in the field of mortgage underwriting, you will have to earn a master’s degree or specialize in lending systems.
You can develop skills in lending systems by taking classes offered by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, or by other professional mortgage organizations. This is a great way to build your mortgage underwriter education and become more valuable in the field.
Earning a master’s degree in a related field is another way to move beyond management positions.
Can you make good money as a mortgage underwriter?
As of January 2022, the average salary in the United States for a mortgage underwriter is around $90,000. Mortgage underwriters make their salary through fees, such as commissions, premiums, and interest.
How do I become an underwriter with no experience?
You will have to build experience before becoming a mortgage underwriter. Start by earning a four-year degree in accounting, finance, business, or a related field. After that, gain an entry-level position and look into getting a mortgage underwriter certification.
Is mortgage underwriting a stressful job?
Being a mortgage underwriter can be a stressful job. A mortgage underwriter analyzes a lot of data and has to consider many scenarios. The consequences of making the wrong decision can be large, which adds to the stress.
Is underwriting a good career?
If you are good at business, accounting, math, finance, or a related field, it is worth looking into. Becoming a mortgage underwriter could be both a successful and fulfilling career choice for the right person.
- Mortgage underwriters determine risk factors of borrowers’ home loans, and whether their mortgage applications should be approved.
- To become a mortgage underwriter, graduate high school, earn a bachelor’s degree (optional), do an internship (also optional), and receive on-the-job training throughout your career.
- Find an internship and receive on-the-job training to have a successful career as a mortgage underwriter.
- Getting a professional certification is not required, but it can increase your average salary by five to 10%.
- Mortgage underwriters work with loan officers, mortgage lenders, banks, and other financial institutions.
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Camilla has a background in journalism and business communications. She specializes in writing complex information in understandable ways. She has written on a variety of topics including money, science, personal finance, politics, and more. Her work has been published in the HuffPost, KSL.com, Deseret News, and more.