What Does an Underwriter Do? (And How to Become One)

Updated 17 March 2023

An underwriter is a professional who evaluates the risk of business actions. These actions usually involve banks or insurance companies providing loans to applicants. Understanding the responsibilities of an underwriter can help you choose an underwriting career. In this article, we discuss the answer to the question ‘What does an underwriter do?’ and provide a helpful guide on how you can become one.

What does an underwriter do?

If you're interested in this career, you may wonder, ‘What does an underwriter do each day?’ An underwriter reviews people applying for a loan, mortgage or insurance policy. They evaluate applicants to assess their level of risk to a company. For example, if someone is applying for a loan, an underwriter may review their employment status. If the applicant has full time-work, they are likely a low risk to the lender because of earning a steady income. This can be an indicator that the applicant may have the financial means to pay the loan.

Underwriters also assess the risk of business decisions. An example of a business decision may include a company changing from the private sector to the public sector. Some underwriting professionals may assess risks for several clients in varying departments. Other underwriters may specialise in a specific type of underwriting. A mortgage underwriter only assesses applicants applying for a mortgage, for example.

Below you can find some of the typical daily duties of an underwriter:

  • reviewing applicants' credit history

  • evaluating applicants' credit scores

  • producing credit reports

  • evaluating the risk of personal loans

  • reviewing the driving history of applicants applying for car insurance

  • reviewing the medical history of applicants applying for health insurance

  • advising companies on the risks involved with a particular action

  • operating underwriting software

  • determining an initial public offering (IPO) for a company

  • advising individuals on how to improve their chances of approval.

Related: What Does a Car Assessor Do? (Plus Required Qualifications)

How to become an underwriter

Below you can find a helpful step-by-step guide on how to become an underwriter:

1. Gain industry experience

Obtaining a qualification is not always necessary to become an underwriter. You can also consider gaining relative work experience to be eligible for a career as an underwriter. Work experience can often provide you with beneficial underwriting skills. The work experience required may vary depending on your potential career path. For example, a mortgage underwriter can benefit from experience in property management, while a securities underwriter can benefit from experience in corporate finance.

2. Complete a university degree

Completing a bachelor degree is often a popular way to become an underwriter. You may complete a bachelor's degree at university. Bachelor degrees generally take three years to complete. The three years can consist of practical and theoretical studies. The bachelor degree you choose may depend on the underwriting role you want to pursue. For example, completing a finance bachelor's degree may help you become a securities underwriter. Having a bachelor degree on your resume can highlight to a potential future employer your dedication to the career.

3. Apply for an underwriter job

Once you gain some work experience or obtain a qualification, you can begin the application process for an underwriting role. Depending on your experience and qualifications, you may have several job opportunities available. Employers looking to fill a managerial position may prefer you to have experience and qualifications. You can apply for a career as an underwriter using the Indeed Job Board.


  • How to Apply For a Job in 6 Steps

  • How to Write an Underwriter Resume (Skills and Template)

Careers in underwriting

There are several different types of underwriting careers. Some may require fewer qualifications or less experience than others. Below you can find some underwriting jobs with their typical duties and average salaries:

1. Entry-level underwriter

Find entry-level underwriter jobs

Average national salary: $58,000 per year

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Primary duties: An entry-level underwriter is an assistant within an underwriting team. Their responsibilities are generally the same as those of their mentor or supervisor, though their work is likely frequently reviewed. An entry-level underwriter can work in varying sectors. These sectors may include finance, insurance and property.

2. Insurance underwriter

Find insurance underwriter jobs

Average national salary: $58,968 per year

Primary duties: Insurance underwriters usually specialise in different types of insurance. An insurance underwriter may focus only on car insurance, for example. Other types of insurance include medical insurance, pet insurance and travel insurance. Insurance underwriters review aspects of applicants' applications to determine their associated level of risk.

Related: What Is an Insurance Underwriter? (With Career Guide)

3. Mortgage underwriter

Find mortgage underwriter jobs

Average national salary: $89,019 per year

Primary duties: Mortgage underwriters specialise in evaluating the risk of a mortgage applicant. Mortgage underwriters may review an applicant to see if they can financially support a loan. They usually review an applicant's credit history and credit score. This is so they can determine the applicant's level of risk to a bank. If the applicant has a good credit score, then the underwriter may deem them as a low-risk applicant.

4. Underwriting manager

Find underwriting manager jobs

Average national salary: $89,551 per year

Primary duties: An underwriting manager oversees a team of underwriters. They ensure the evaluations are accurate and fair. Depending on the underwriting team they manage, their responsibilities can vary. An underwriting manager in an insurance team may approve insurance claims, while an underwriting manager for a financial corporation may offer initial public offering (IPO) advice.

Related: What Does an Insurance Assessor Do? (With Skills and Duties)

Skills of an underwriter

Below you can find some of the skills that may benefit an underwriter in performing their daily duties:

Analytical skills

Underwriters often use analytical skills to make evaluations of applicants or business decisions. Being able to analyse data can help an underwriter write an accurate evaluation. You can usually improve your analytical skills by completing educational courses. These courses might focus on mathematics and statistics. You may also improve your analytical thinking by joining a group such as a debate team.


One of the important parts of an underwriter's job is discussing the risk evaluation of an applicant. Having effective communication skills can ensure an underwriter provides clear information on their evaluation. You can improve your communication skills by working on maintaining eye contact, waiting for the speaker to pause before asking questions and being attentive to their non-verbal cues. You may also consider involving yourself in group activities that require you to communicate with a diverse range of people.

Mathematics and statistics

One skill of an underwriter is usually their ability to understand statistics. An underwriter evaluates applicants' credit scores and credit history and they generally do this by analysing statistics and using their mathematical skills. You may improve your mathematics and statistics skills by completing an educational course. Most financial courses contain units that may improve these skills.

Related: A Guide to What You Can Do With a Mathematics Degree

Computer skills

Underwriters generally analyse and research documents using computer programs. Underwriters with knowledge of management software can gather information and assess associated risk. You can gain experience in computer programs by completing educational courses. You can also follow online tutorials to broaden your experience with computers.

Frequently asked questions about underwriting

Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions about an underwriting career:

Can an underwriter deny a loan?

An underwriter can deny applications for loans if they determine the risk is too high. Underwriters are subject to strict standards and regulations. These rules help to ensure that underwriters rank applicants with professionalism. Underwriters review applicants using an objective risk matrix that analyses statistical data. This often ensures underwriters adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

Are underwriters paid well?

The average national salary of an underwriter is $78,184 per year. Some underwriting careers require extensive qualifications and work experience. These roles usually provide a higher salary compared to entry-level positions. The salary may also vary depending on the location of the underwriting career.

What is the difference between actuaries and underwriters?

Actuaries and underwriters within an insurance company have very similar roles. The main difference is that an actuary uses data to decide the cost of insurance brackets, whereas underwriters use the data to decide which bracket an applicant belongs to. They both analyse data, but an actuary's research is often broader than that of an underwriter. An underwriter often researches an individual, while an actuary researches national statistics.

Related: What Does an Actuary Do? (With Types and How to Become One)

What is the work environment of an underwriter like?

Underwriters may spend most of their working day in an office. Depending on the company they work for, they may have colleagues to interact with. Underwriters may leave the office and travel to meetings. At these meetings, they can discuss business with clients or investors. Depending on the size of the company, an underwriter may work individually or within a team environment.

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