Education and Training Requirements
Recommended high school classes include business, economics, accounting, statistics, mathematics, and computer science. Strong communication skills are needed to work as a loan underwriter, so be sure to take English and speech classes. Loan underwriters also need excellent analytical and critical-thinking skills. Taking history, social studies, and philosophy courses will allow you to develop these abilities.
You can enter this career with only a high school diploma, but many employers prefer to hire applicants with a bachelor’s degree in business, business administration, accounting, and finance.
Once hired, new underwriters receive on-the-job training that typically lasts from three to six months.
Other Education or Training
Keeping up with industry developments is key to success as an underwriter. Professional associations often provide continuing education (CE) opportunities. The National Association of Mortgage Underwriters offers classes such as Mortgage Underwriter 101: The Essentials, Commercial Processing and Underwriting 101, Advanced Commercial Processing and Underwriting, and Due Diligence: Learn Manual Underwriting. The American Bankers Association offers CE courses such as The Commercial Real Estate Underwriting Process, Processing and Underwriting Credit, Fundamentals of Mortgage Lending, Law & Banking: Principles. Companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also provide a variety of professional development classes and webinars. Contact these organizations for more information.
The American Bankers Association offers a certificate in business and commercial lending that covers credit analysis, underwriting, and other topics. To earn the certificate, students must complete the following classes: Understanding Business Borrowers, Analyzing Business Financial Statements and Tax Returns, Analyzing Personal Financial Statements and Tax Returns, Qualitative Analysis and Determining a Credit Risk Rating, and Loan Structuring, Documentation, Pricing and Problem Loans.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The National Association of Mortgage Underwriters offers several certification credentials for underwriters, including certified mortgage underwriter. To earn this credential, applicants must complete four webinars (Mortgage Underwriting 101: The Essentials, Advanced Underwriting: Real World Lessons, FHA/VA Underwriting: For Underwriters, and Due Diligence: Learn Manual Underwriting), successfully pass a third-party background check, and pass an examination. Visit https://www.mortgage-underwriters.org/certified-mortgage-underwriter-namu-cmu for more information.
The Mortgage Bankers Association offers the certified residential underwriter specialist designation to applicants who meet educational and experience requirements and pass an examination. Visit https://www.mba.org/conferences-and-education/mba-education/certificates-and-designations/residential-underwriting-certificate-and-designation-program for more information.
Mortgage loan underwriters are often required to register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Three to five years of experience in loan processing, credit analysis, or related fields is required to work as a loan underwriter.
Loan underwriters must have excellent communication skills because they frequently interact with colleagues, representatives of outside banks or credit unions, loan processors, and others who are integral to the loan process. Those who are detail-oriented, organized, and have good time-management and analytical skills prosper in this career. Finally, loan underwriters need familiarity with fair lending practices and an understanding of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and lending industry guidelines; detailed knowledge of loan processing, underwriting, and closing procedures; proficiency in Outlook, Excel, Word (Microsoft) or similar software; and expertise in the use of loan underwriting, processing and management software systems such as Desktop Underwriter (Fannie Mae), Loan Prospector (Freddie Mac), Encompass (Ellie Mae), Point (Calyx Technology), and OnBase (Hyland Software).