How to Become a Commercial Underwriter: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a commercial underwriter. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a commercial underwriter.

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Do I Want to Be a Commercial Underwriter?

A commercial underwriter writes insurance policies for non-residential real estate properties. They analyze information on insurance documents to determine risk, decide whether an offer to insure a property should be made and write insurance policies to cover potential losses. Travel to aid in assessment of properties might be required.

Job Requirements

These workers usually have a bachelor's degree and receive some on-the-job training. Certification might be required. The chart below includes the basic requirements to work as a commercial underwriter:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree*
Degree Field No specific field of study required; degrees are available in risk management and insurance
Licensure or Certification Employers may require underwriters to be certified by organizations such as the Insurance Institute of America*
Experience None required*
Key Skills Analytical, decision making and interpersonal skills;* critical thinking, complex problem solving, time management and writing skills**
Computer Skills Able to use financial analysis, document management and spreadsheet software programs**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Although the BLS states that employers may prefer to hire individuals who have a bachelor's degree to work as commercial insurance underwriters, there is no specific area of study the agency identifies as leading to a career in the field. Instead, the agency recommends completing a bachelor's degree program that includes courses in finance, business, mathematics and economics.

Bachelor's degree programs focusing on risk management and insurance are available. These programs, which are often offered through a school's business division, require four years of full-time study. Classes in these programs cover topics like the principles of finance, business statistics, operations management, commercial risk management and insurance, risk management theory and insurance operations.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship or field experience. Bachelor's degree programs may offer students the ability to complete an insurance and risk management-related internship or field experience. These experiences introduce students to the job tasks they may be required to perform in their future careers. Additionally, internships provide networking opportunities, which may make it easier for a student to find a job after graduation.

Step 2: Begin Working as a Commercial Underwriter

The BLS states that insurance underwriters normally do not need experience to begin working in the field, but that many times underwriters receive some form of on-the-job training. This means that recent bachelor's degree program graduates can begin working as an underwriter immediately after completing their studies.

Commercial underwriters review submitted documents to determine whether insurance should be offered to cover a non-residential property. They also determine appropriate coverage amounts and premium costs for commercial property policies.

Success Tip:

  • Earn certifications. Although not required to work as a commercial underwriter, certifications related to the career are available. The Insurance Institute of America offers the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) credential. This certification, which is considered the premier credential in the field of underwriting, requires passing a series of eight exams. Earning this designation may increase salary potential or eligibility for job positions.
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