A mortgage underwriter decides whether a borrower receives a mortgage or building loan. The underwriter evaluates the real estate the home loan is covering and verifies the borrower's credit, assets, income and other factors influencing the loan, such as current employment. The underwriter uses this information to calculate the level of risk to the lender for the borrower's loan.
The median income for a mortgage underwriter is $65,900 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2010 report. The lower annual salary end is $30,930 each year, earned by less than 10 percent of underwriters. The high range annual salary is $112,370, with 90 percent of the reported salaries for underwriters under this amount.
A mortgage underwriter's salary is impacted by her education, level of experience and the type of loans she handles. Commercial mortgage underwriters may earn more than a residential underwriter with similar experience because of the complicated nature of commercial deals. Underwriters handling a higher volume of transactions may earn bonuses or incentives not offered to underwriters in a smaller business.
Employer educational requirements for a mortgage underwriter vary. Some mortgage underwriters hold a bachelor's or associate's degree in a business or financial field or an associate's in a specific mortgage banking curriculum. Other underwriters do not have a higher degree or a degree in a related field but do have extensive experience in mortgage lending. Underwriters working for a government agency, such as the Federal Housing Administration, may need special training classes or certification. The Mortgage Bankers Association offers classes and certification programs for mortgage underwriters through Campus MBA, its educational agency. Continuing education keeps a mortgage underwriter on top of law changes and developments, and some employers require it.
New York, Illinois, California, Florida and Texas had the highest level of active mortgage underwriter jobs in 2010, according to the BLS, with California leading. New York and California also reported the highest annual salaries for mortgage underwriting jobs, along with Washington, the District of Columbia and New Jersey. Mortgage underwriters typically work in financial settings, including banks and credit unions, and in local or federal government agencies.