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How Can I Become a Mortgage Underwriter?

Students wondering how to become a mortgage underwriter can learn about the education, certification, training, and skills needed for the position. Explore these mortgage underwriter requirements, job duties, and salary below.

How to Become a Mortgage Underwriter

Mortgage underwriters specialize in determining if clients are creditworthy of a real estate, or mortgage, loan. This type of loan officer generally works full-time and in an office setting. Like most loan officers, mortgage underwriters typically need to hold a college degree and have some training in the field. Learn more about each step to becoming a mortgage underwriter below.

Step 1: Earn Mortgage Underwriter Education

Most loan officers need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Some common majors for aspiring mortgage underwriters include business or finance. While certificate programs in finance are available, it may be most beneficial for mortgage underwriters to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance or a BS in Business with a concentration in finance. These programs help prepare students for their future careers with courses in areas like financial management, financial markets, and financial statement analysis.

Step 2: Obtain a Mortgage Underwriter License

Mortgage loan officers are required to meet their state's requirements for a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license. This requires passing a background and credit check, as well as completing coursework and passing an exam. Coursework is typically completed in a pre-licensure program that totals 20 hours. Mortgage underwriters can also pursue an optional designation like the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) from the credentialing organization The Institutes to demonstrate proficiency in areas like risk management and coverage analysis.

Step 3: Complete Mortgage Underwriter Training

Most loan officers need to complete some on-the-job training after securing a position. This training may include a few months of informal training with experienced loan officers and/or specific training for the company.

Other Mortgage Underwriter Requirements

Although they may not be formal requirements, it is important for mortgage underwriters to demonstrate good decision-making skills. They must pay close attention to details as they evaluate loan applications and then decide if a client is capable of securing a mortgage loan. This also requires good analytical skills and knowledge/experience with loan underwriting software.

Mortgage Underwriter Job Duties

Mortgage underwriters are primarily responsible for examining financial information for a client to determine if they capable of making payments on a loan. After examining loan agreements and determining the creditworthiness of clients, loans can be passed on to loan processors to prepare the loan paperwork. Other job duties for a mortgage underwriter or mortgage loan officer may include:

  • Collecting financial information from the client's application
  • Verifying financial information from clients
  • Preparing loans for residential or commercial properties
  • Communicating with real estate companies for potential clients
  • Approving or denying loans
  • Ensuring loans comply with laws and regulations

Mortgage Underwriter Salary

In November of 2019, PayScale.com reported that loan underwriters for mortgages made a median annual salary of $64,913. This salary can vary based on factors such as the specific employer or the level of work experience. For example, the website reported that loan underwriters for mortgages that had 20 years or more of experience made an average salary of $75,269.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of $63,040 for all loan officers in 2018. The highest paying industry for loan officers in 2018 was securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities. States like New York and Massachusetts offered some of the highest salaries for these professionals.