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How to Become an Insurance Underwriter

Employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. However, insurance-related work experience and strong computer skills may be enough. Certification is necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter manager positions.


Most firms prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Courses in business, finance, economics, and mathematics are particularly helpful.


Beginning underwriters usually work as trainees under the supervision of senior underwriters. Trainees work on basic applications and learn the most common risk factors. As they gain experience, they become responsible for more complex applications and work independently.


Employers often expect underwriters to get certification through coursework. These courses are important for keeping current with new insurance policies and adjusting to new technology and changes in state and federal regulations. Certification is often necessary for advancement to senior underwriter and underwriter management positions. Many certification options are available.

For beginning underwriters, the Insurance Institute of America offers a training program. The Institute also offers two special designations, an Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU) and an Associate in Personal Insurance (API). To earn either the AU or API designation, underwriters complete a series of courses and exams that generally take 1 to 2 years.

The American College also offers an introductory course in basic insurance concepts: The Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). They also offer a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) designation.

For underwriters with at least three years of insurance experience, the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters offers the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation (CPCU).

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Underwriters must be able to evaluate information and solve complex problems.

Decision-making skills. Underwriters must have the ability to consider the costs and benefits of various decisions and to choose the appropriate one.

Detail oriented. Underwriters must pay attention to detail, because each individual item on an insurance application can affect the coverage decision.

Interpersonal skills. Underwriters need good communication and interpersonal skills because much of their work involves dealing with other people, such as insurance agents.

Technical skills. Underwriters must be comfortable working with computers and making mathematical calculations.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition