Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Underwriter

Job Description:

Underwriters, also called mortgage processors, are a key part of the loan approval process. They are in charge of collecting, verifying, and evaluating a borrower’s financial information, as well as determining a client’s credit worthiness. Their role is to determine how much of a financial risk a borrower presents a loan provider. As such, they typically work at commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and other specialized financial institutions.

Requirements:
Insurance underwriters typically need a bachelor's degree to qualify for employment, though in some cases a high school diploma is enough. Although there's no specific degree requirement, courses in business, economics, finance, and mathematics may be useful to someone entering this field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Underwriters usually learn their work and develop relevant skills through on-the-job training.
Median Salary:
$43,000-$62,000
According to the Robert Half Finance & Accounting 2013 Salary Guide, underwriters made between $43,000 and $62,000 in 2012. The guide predicts that in 2013 underwriters will see a 3.1% increase in their annual earnings, changing the average salary range to $44,250-$64,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top-paying states for underwriters in 2012 were New York, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 14% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Underwriter job growth is largely affected by a fluctuating economy. Generally speaking, in times of economic and population growth, and when interest rates are low, the demand for loans, and underwriters to approve them, is high. As the effects of the recent recession are finally evening out, lending institutions are bouncing back by providing loans in increasing numbers. As of 2010, 86% of loan officers, including underwriters, worked in credit mediation and related activities, according to the BLS. Employers typically prefer candidates with advanced education, formal and/or specialty training, and professional experience.

Continuing Education:

Financial professionals specializing in underwriting may opt for specific certification in this area. Organizations like the Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association offer resources for professionals looking to get credentials tailored to loan officers. As per formal industry requirements, underwriters must maintain their certification and separate state licensure through continuing education. Typical course work for underwriters and loan officers may include underwriting manual mortgage loans, underwriting manufactured housing, the Patriot Act, and underwriting alternative lending products. Although underwriting may seem like a specialty or 'niche' field of the finance industry, candidates with the unique skills required for this occupation may find enhanced job prospects with maximum vocational training and an advanced degree.