Credit underwriters evaluate financial information and risks prior to granting loans to businesses or individuals. The U.S. Department of Labor also refers to them as credit authorizers, checkers and clerks. Credit underwriters work for banking institutions, government agencies and commercial lenders. They assess information provided by potential borrowers, such as their financial liabilities, credit history, employment and income, to calculate the risks of extending credit to loan applicants. Essentially, credit underwriters evaluate and determine the capacity of borrowers to repay their financial obligations.
A Day in the Life of Credit Underwriters
Credit underwriters conduct detailed research on the financial history of businesses and individuals to determine their creditworthiness. They review and verify income statements, tax returns and other financial documents to develop a borrower's profile and arrive at a credit recommendation. Lending organizations make decisions on issuing new loans or lines of credit based on the credit underwriter’s recommendation. Credit underwriters work closely with loan officers and may assist them with verifying the accuracy of loan applications. Credit underwriters may also propose revisions to the credit limits or interest rates on the existing loans of qualified borrowers.
Education Required for Credit Underwriter Jobs
The level of education sought by employers of credit underwriters varies. Some employers hire high school graduates with no job experience, while other lending institutions require a bachelor's degree in finance or economics. In either case, aspiring credit underwriters can take coursework in accounting and finance to gain skills preferred by many employers. While many employers provide on-the-job training during the first few months of the job, specialized training in cash flow analysis and computer science are also good preparation.
Skills for Job Success
Credit underwriters rely heavily on their analytical thinking skills, attention to detail, financial acumen and ethics during the credit evaluation process. They demonstrate knowledge of basic accounting theories, credit principles, lending functions, loan research and general credit policies. Their excellent organizational skills and meticulous work habits allow them to accurately evaluate many financial variables and reach appropriate conclusions. Credit underwriters manage their time effectively, know how to prioritize work tasks and adapt to working under tight schedules. They have good communication skills and are comfortable sharing information with both colleagues and senior personnel. Credit underwriters are also technically savvy and possess advanced computer and spreadsheet software skills.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects employment of credit authorizers, checkers, clerks and underwriters to grow 3 percent, or slower than the national average for all occupations, from 2008 to 2018. Although advancements in technology continue to automate and improve the credit application process, the lending industry’s aversion to financial risk and focus on credit policies and regulatory requirements continue to support job growth.
Statement of Earnings
Occupational wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate credit underwriters in the United States bring in average annual salaries of $31,950, as of May 2009. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are the three top-paying states for the occupation, with average mean annual earnings of $41,996.67 for all credit authorizers, checkers, clerks and underwriters. Underwriters employed in the national gas distribution industry have the highest potential for earnings, with average annual wages of $60,160 as of May 2009.