Loan Underwriting Specialist: Career Profile

Sep 16, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a loan underwriting specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Loan underwriters calculate the risk behind loan applications, determine the guidelines of a loan and approve loan funding. Most banks want applicants with at least a bachelor's degree in finance and require state licensure in order to become a mortgage loan officer.

Essential Information

Loan underwriters, often referred to as loan officers, use computer software to help banks and lending institutions determine the creditworthiness of loan applicants and set up loan guidelines. While some banks or other lenders will hire someone with a high school education, most want applicants with at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Mortgage loan offers must hold a federal license, obtained through training and an examination.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in finance or related field is the most common requirement
Licensing Mortgage loan officers must be licensed
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $63,040*

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

Career Profile for a Loan Underwriting Specialist

A loan underwriting specialist, or loan officer, identifies and calculates risk from potential borrowers, establishes appropriate interest rates and approves loan funding. These professionals typically use computer software to help determine creditworthiness of applicants and set up loan guidelines for approved loans. Depending on their specializations, loan underwriters might work in an office setting or travel to meet clients in the field.


While some employers accept applicants with only a high school diploma, others, such as banks that hire commercial loan officers, might require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field. Classes in these 4-year programs might include accounting, business management, business ethics, financial analysis, appraisal principles and real estate math.

Licensure and Certification

Although commercial and consumer loan offers are not required to be licensed, federal laws require mortgage loan officers to have licenses. To obtain licensing, candidates must pass a criminal background check, complete a minimum of 20 hours of coursework and pass a written test. To maintain their licenses, they must keep up with continuing education.

The Mortgage Bankers Association and the Bank Administration Institute both offer certification programs for loan offers. Although not a requirement, certification can enhance employment opportunities for loan underwriters and loan officers.


Loan underwriters need to be highly organized, have the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment, be able to make difficult decisions quickly and be proficient with accounting and computer software. Individuals must also understand and be familiar with compliance laws and regulations regarding the financial lending industry.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that positions for loan officers were anticipated to grow by 8% from 2018-2028 ( This growth stems in part from an increasing population and expected economic growth, which would bring a greater demand for loans. The BLS also reported that loan officers averaged $76,270 annually in salary as of May 2018.

Loan underwriters, also known as loan officers, oversee an institution's loan process. They're typically expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in finance, and must obtain licensing with their state in order to become a mortgage loan officer. This job market is forecast to experience a faster than average growth through 2028.

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