How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Underwriter: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $39,210
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Underwriters are individuals who evaluate the amount of risk embedded in a transaction. They commonly evaluate the risk of selling an insurance plan to an individual or group, or the risk of distributing mortgage or other loan funds. They work to help companies make wise investments.

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What is an Underwriter?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in underwriter roles:

  • Review all paperwork related to loans or insurance applications to ensure information collected is complete and adheres to all legal regulations
  • Review loan and insurance applications for any discrepancies or red flags
  • Determine the amount of risk a company would assume by granting a loan or issuing coverage
  • Make final determinations on whether or not a loan or insurance coverage should be issued
  • Determine appropriate premiums or interest rates to lower the risk involved in the transaction

A Day in the Life

Underwriters are analysts who serve as the final line of defense against a company completing a transaction that represents high risk for loss of funds. Underwriters commonly work in the insurance and lending industries. They provide final approvals on loan and insurance coverage applications. When an application is received, the underwriter reviews all materials, ensures all required documentation has been submitted, and analyzes all paperwork for red flags or other issues that could represent risk.

In the lending industry, underwriters give final approval for mortgages, lines of credit, and other types of loans. Though loan applicants never see or work with underwriters, the underwriter is the most important person in the loan process because he/she has final say on whether or not a loan application is approved. The underwriter reviews the paperwork and determines the borrower’s ability to repay the loan, and his/her likelihood of repaying. To do this, the underwriter looks at income and credit histories.

In insurance, the underwriter reviews individual and group coverage applications for many different lines of coverage, including health, life, supplementary, and property insurance. When working in insurance, the underwriter’s responsibility is to determine appropriate policy premiums to cover the amount of risk an applicant represents. For example, an underwriter may recommend high premiums for auto insurance for an individual with a poor driving record, or he/she may deny coverage issuance.

Typical Work Schedule

Most of the underwriters’ work tends to be office-based so the working schedule mostly follow standard business hours of about 40 hours per week. It is a rare occasion for an underwriter to have to work extra time because of the nature of the profession itself. Accordingly, it is a good choice for people who are mainly concerned with the life-work balance. However, sometimes depending on the field of work, the underwriter may have to travel if the risk that needs to be assessed or the client under assessment was somewhere else. However, it is highly crucial for an underwriter to meet his specified timeframes because of the scale of risk associated.

Projected Job Growth

Recent technological advances lead to the automation of many of the typical underwriter tasks. The demand for this job is expected to decline in the coming years by at least 6% between 2019 and 2029 based on the statistics of the US bureau of labor statistics. These advances made it easier to analyze and assess any potential client, analyze his data and reach a decision using artificial engineering and machine learning programs. This will only make it crucial for an underwriter to perfect his analytical skills and computer background because the underwriting software will need to be reviewed and updated periodically. Therefore, you will need, in addition to the finance and mathematical degrees, to improve your analytical, computer and negotiation skills to stay competitive in this field.

Underwriter Specializations

  • Loan underwriters process applications for mortgages, lines of credit, and other loans, evaluating the risk that borrowers represent for defaulting on the loan.
  • Insurance underwriters determine whether or not coverage should be issued for health, life, and property insurance, and recommend premium payments that combat that risk.
  • IPO underwriters help companies determine whether or not they should go public on the stock exchange. They evaluate interest in stock purchases to make recommendations.

Typical Employers

Most of the time an underwriter needs to specialize in one field first to get enough experience and manage his work better. The most common employers for underwriters include insurance agencies where providing any type of insurance as house, commercial or life insurance. Other fields include banking where the underwriter you will utilize your skills in assessing, evaluating and deciding on the client’s risk before a loan for example and to create financial profilers for any potential client. Other fields of employment include the stock market where they work to predict the future trends of the market. You may also decide to work independently, but this requires decent experience and connections in order to establish yourself in the field.

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How To Become an Underwriter

In some cases, it’s possible for aspiring underwriters to work their way into the role with only a high school diploma. Not all businesses require underwriters to have a degree, and professional experience in the industry can be a sufficient background for securing employment as an underwriter. Without a degree, the process can take many years. You’ll need to start off at a lender or insurance company in an entry-level position and work your way up the ladder, gaining experience and earning promotions.

To skip some of the upfront work, or to qualify for positions for more prestigious companies or investment firms, you’ll need to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in a math-focused major, such as finance, accounting, business, or economics, are preferred. A bachelor’s degree may allow you to qualify for open underwriter roles directly after graduation, and will also allow you to qualify for promotions into senior underwriter and underwriting manager roles later in your career.

In addition to the required education, many underwriters also pursue professional certifications to become more competitive when applying for open roles. Professional certifications are offered through organizations like The Institutes, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and The American College of Financial Services. These programs may require candidates to have earned professional underwriting experience before admission, and usually require both coursework and passing an exam before certification is awarded.

Underwriter Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Underwriter salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Underwriter's can make an average annual salary of $39,210, or $19 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $30,480 or $15 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #540 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Underwriters

  • 0.6%   Doctorate
  • 2.5%   Masters
  • 22.9%   Bachelors
  • 12.9%   Associates
  • 32.8%   College
  • 27%   High School
  • 1.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Underwriter job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 18,500 jobs for a total of 232,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #258 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Underwriters

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Depository credit intermediation 72,800 4,600 5%
Other nondepository credit intermediation, including real estate credit and consumer lending 60,600 5,900 6%
Activities related to credit intermediation 22,600 4,000 4%

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