Do you enjoy asking questions, gathering evidence and evaluating risk? If so, you may be well-suited for a career working for an insurance company as an underwriter. Insurance underwriter jobs require you to use analytical, decision-making and math skills.
Insurance underwriters decide whether to accept the risk and insure customers. As an underwriter, you will determine how much coverage the client needs and the premiums they should pay for it. You must also display good judgment, as insurance underwriters make impactful decisions based on risk that can impact insurance companies' bottom lines.
Working as an insurance underwriter is a solid career choice in an industry that has been around for centuries. Of course, insurance companies take advantage of modern technology, so serious candidates must be comfortable in front of a computer. Let's explore the requirements for an underwriter job, as well as how you can build experience to start your underwriting career.
Preparation and underwriter education
If you're still in school, you may be able to take a few courses that will help you gain the experience you'll need to perform the job's duties. Many insurance underwriter job descriptions include these skills:
- Analytical skills
- Attention to detail
- Problem solving
- Computer skills
- Excellent judgment
- Written and verbal communication
Taking a course load heavy in mathematics and sciences can help refine many of those skills.
"Some underwriting jobs will require a bachelor's degree, but not necessarily in a specific area," says Eric Jans, owner of Eric Jans Insurance. "There will be a lot of math though, particularly in statistics. Verbal and written skills are important, as well as attention to detail and good judgment."
Computer skills are also particularly important for hopeful insurance underwriters in the modern age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, automated underwriting software will result in a five percent decline in insurance underwriting jobs. That means competition for these positions will be fierce. One way to stand out from the competition is to outline your computer proficiency and ability to operate complex software in a carefully-crafted resume.
Highlight any industry-specific coursework you may have taken, but your skills ultimately matter more than what you studied in school. Most insurance companies will train you on your specific job duties, but they want candidates who are unafraid to work hard and adapt to new environments.
"Business classes focusing on finance and insurance will give you a leg up in the hiring process," says Jans.
If you're a college student wondering how to become an underwriter, focus on building your practical skills and take classes in business law, economics and accounting. Talk about the most pertinent aspects of your coursework in your cover letter to show how your college years prepared you for the job.
Experience and insurance underwriting certifications
The best way to learn is to experience, and spending time in the insurance field can help you build skills and give you valuable insight into the day-to-day functions of the job. Even if you can't immediately find an underwriting position, working in insurance will still be beneficial. You may even make professional connections that will score you your first insurance underwriting job.
Consider working entry-level jobs in the industry part-time or during your summer break to learn the ins and outs of the insurance business. Some jobs include:
- Processing clerk
- Receptionist/ administrative assistant
Some employers will require insurance underwriter certifications upon hiring to show that you are up-to-date on the industry's current policies and procedures. Talk to a local insurance professional or a counselor in your school's career center about any kind of certifications that may be required and see if you can take the classes on nights or weekends to get current while you finish up your degree. But keep in mind that many employers will pay for these certifications once you're on the job.
When you do get hired, expect an extensive training period where you will learn the skills specific to your new role. Preparing as much as possible ahead of time will take much of the potential anxiety out of the training process and will help you move ahead quickly in your new career.
Insurance underwriting is a challenging and competitive field. Use these steps to help you stand out from the crowd when applying for your first job as an insurance underwriter.
Begin a successful insurance career by using our Resume Builder to get noticed and make your case to the hiring manager. You can choose the resume format that suits your experience and browse industry-specific Resume Samples to gain inspiration. And don't forget about a cover letter! Use our Cover Letter Builder to create a letter that complements and enhances your resume.