How Can I Become a Mortgage Underwriter?

Research what it takes to become a mortgage underwriter. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Mortgage Underwriter?

Mortgage underwriters determine an applicant's creditworthiness by assessing their financial situation and possible risk of default. In order to do this, they must evaluate all of a client's financial information. Responsibilities include but are not limited to gathering sensitive information from the client, educating and explaining to them specific approaches, and assisting clients in completing an application. They must have strong writing, communication, and organizational skills. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Compile profiles on loan applicants
Research and analyze various available loans
Approve/deny loan applications
Training Required Moderate-term on-the-job training
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 8%*
Average Salary (2015) $75,170*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Does a Mortgage Underwriter Do?

A mortgage underwriter is responsible for determining applicants' creditworthiness by assessing their financial situation and possible risk of default. A mortgage underwriter may specialize in residential or commercial mortgages, which require different kinds of knowledge and responsibilities. While all underwriters consider the applicant's credit score or credit history, residential mortgage underwriters evaluate creditworthiness based on income. In evaluating a mortgage for a business, the commercial underwriter analyzes the financial statements of the company to determine creditworthiness or risk.

What Knowledge and Skills Are Required for the Residential Underwriter?

To obtain employment as a residential mortgage underwriter, you would need to have knowledge of various federal housing programs. These include the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Veteran's Administration (VA), Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or Freddie Mac) programs. You can learn about these programs through local or online training classes. You can learn this information through local and online training.

Do I Need Any Credentials to be a Residential Mortgage Underwriter?

As a residential mortgage underwriter, you are only required to have a high school diploma. However, you could obtain a certificate in real estate lending from a community college. According to job postings on CareerBuilder.com in 2015, many employers seek residential mortgage underwriters with the FHA direct endorsement (DE) designation. This designation would qualify you to handle loans insured by the federal government. However, only your employer can register you as certified, so you must prove your capabilities or have already been registered by a previous employer.

In seeking to enter this field, you may begin by seeking employment as a bank teller or customer service representative. One stepping-stone to becoming a mortgage underwriter is to become a mortgage processor. By becoming a mortgage processor, you could obtain on-the-job training to become a junior underwriter. The National Association of Mortgage Processors (NAMP) offers a Certified Purple Processor designation for those without experience. It verifies that you have passed a background check, agreed to ethical standards of conduct and that you will maintain a membership with NAMP.

What Is Unique about Becoming a Commercial Mortgage Underwriter?

If you choose to pursue a career as a commercial mortgage underwriter, then you would be required to obtain a bachelor's degree in finance or economics. Determining the creditworthiness of a business is much more complex than in residential mortgages. Knowledge of business accounting is necessary to analyze the details of a company's cash flow and related aspects of commercial finances. Once you have completed your education, you are likely to find excellent employment opportunities, as many banks have reported a shortage of qualified applicants in this field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Underwriters are needed in many different areas, including insurance, and many of the skills are transferable. Financial analysts provide guidance about investments to clients or businesses by evaluating different types of investments. Finally, tax examiners make sure that governments get their required tax payments. All of these roles require bachelor degrees.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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