Insurance underwriters
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Overview
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Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.
Titles for this career often contain these words
UnderwriterUnderwritingAccountPropertyCommercialLinesInsuranceRepresentativeAutomobileBondHealthWriterLifeMarinePersonalConsultantDirectorManagerService
Education
About 57% of insurance underwriters have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by insurance underwriters
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More insurance underwriters have bachelor's degrees than 73% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Insurance underwriters, with 110,400 workers, form a larger workforce than 66% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for insurance underwriters are expected to shrink by 5%, and should have about 8,400 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Insurance underwriters are more likely to be automated than 98% of other careers.
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Salaries
The median (middle) salary for insurance underwriters is higher than 76% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most insurance underwriters.
This job's median $69KAll jobs' median $39K$69K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 65% of insurance underwriters -- that's a larger percentage than 80% of other jobs.
Gender of insurance underwriters
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For insurance underwriters, the median men's salary was 23% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 17% of insurance underwriters are minority, and 7% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of insurance underwriters
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (7%)
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Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Insurance Underwriters per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 72% of insurance underwriters, and 80% have company-sponsored health insurance (14% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for insurance underwriters
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 58% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
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Injury and Illness
About 10 insurance underwriters become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, which reflects fewer events than in 88% of other careers. The most common specific concerns detailed following.
Fractures
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of insurance underwriters who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (97%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (56%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (44%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do insurance underwriters earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for insurance underwriters, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for insurance underwriters compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for insurance underwriters (BLS Salary Data)
$69K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$69K$0$50K$100K$150K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all insurance underwriters, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for insurance underwriters compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for insurance underwriters (ACS Salary Data)
$60K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$60K$0$50K$100K$150K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where insurance underwriters work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Insurance underwriters (ACS)
Private for-profit (92.9%)
Private not-for-profit (4.1%)
Local government (0.2%)
State government (1.5%)
Federal government (0.5%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.4%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.3%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of insurance underwriters by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$60K$60K$58K$63K$54K$94K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of insurance underwriters by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$69K$71K$69K$67K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for insurance underwriters

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? This first chart suggests how much this job rewards experience with increased salaries.

Now let's dive a little deeper. Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$50K$54K$63K$58K$62K$75K$70K$68K$37K$0$50K$100K$150KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Insurance underwriters and gender

With 65% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 80% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
65%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Insurance underwriters
Men (35%)
Women (65%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 21%, and the difference for insurance underwriters tops that, with the median salary for men 23% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$56K$69K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Insurance underwriters have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 66% of other jobs.

23%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of insurance underwriters

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority insurance underwriters than for 60% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of insurance underwriters
White (82% )
Black (10% )
Asian (4% )
Other (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
17%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for insurance underwriters by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$50K$52K$62K$63K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KOtherBlackWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for insurance underwriters by nativity
$60K$62K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Part-time/Full-time
Insurance underwriters and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 3% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 87% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
3%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time insurance underwriters is shown following.

$27K$60K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by insurance underwriters

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), insurance underwriters typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as insurance underwriters as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for insurance underwriters.

Education attained by insurance underwriters
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for insurance underwriters

Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Although a specific major is not required, some coursework in business, finance, economics, and mathematics is helpful.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for insurance underwriters

Employers often expect underwriters to become certified through coursework. These courses are important for keeping current with new insurance policies and for 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 underwriters with at least 2 years of insurance experience, The Institutes offer the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. For beginning underwriters, The Institutes offer a training program.

The Institutes also offer several other designations in insurance specialties, including the Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU) and Associate in Personal Insurance (API). To earn these designations, underwriters complete a series of courses and exams that generally takes 1 to 2 years.

The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors offers the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation, which consists of a three-part curriculum in basic insurance concepts.

The American College of Financial Services offers the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) certification. This certification consists of five core courses and three electives, and candidates must have 3 years of related work experience.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for insurance underwriters? Below we see the distribution of insurance underwriters salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as insurance underwriters, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$47K$51K$53K$52K$67K$74K$95K$93K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (1%)High School (13%)Some College (21%)Associate's Degree (8%)Bachelor's Degree (47%)Master's Degree (9%)Professional Deg/Doct (1%)Doctorate (0%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by insurance underwriters

This table shows the college majors held by people working as insurance underwriters. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Insurance underwriters with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as insurance underwriters, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by insurance underwriters given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

How your college major impacts salary
What college major is your best entry?

Does your major impact your salary? About 0% of people working as insurance underwriters have at least a bachelor's degree. In the chart below, each dot represents a college major held by workers in the field. The dots to the right correspond to the majors most frequently working as insurance underwriters, and the dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career. The shading shows the percentage who have a graduate education in addition to their bachelor's degree. The dotted line shows the median salary for everyone working as insurance underwriters.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%2.0%4.0%6.0%8.0%10.0%12.0%14.0%16.0%Percentage with this major$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000$140,000$160,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for insurance underwriters

What jobs will most insurance underwriters hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of insurance underwriters reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Insurance underwritersInsurance sales agentsClaims adjusters and insurance appraisersManagers (specialized areas)Registered nursesSecretaries and administrative assistantsInsurance claims and policy processing clerksComputer systems analystsAccountants and auditorsFile clerks
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for insurance underwriters

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 6 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as insurance underwriters as well as 1% of respondents after working as insurance underwriters. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for insurance underwriters: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as insurance underwriters? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of insurance underwriters surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Read about insurance underwriters
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Insurance underwriters typically do the following:

  • Analyze information stated on insurance applications
  • Determine the risk involved in insuring a client
  • Screen applicants on the basis of set criteria
  • Evaluate recommendations from underwriting software
  • Contact field representatives, medical personnel, and others to obtain further information
  • Decide whether to offer insurance
  • Determine appropriate premiums and amounts of coverage
  • Review and update the rules that govern automation software

Underwriters are the main link between an insurance company and an insurance agent. Insurance underwriters use computer software programs to determine whether to approve an applicant. They take specific information about a client and enter it into a program. The program then provides recommendations on coverage and premiums. Underwriters evaluate these recommendations and decide whether to approve or reject the application. If a decision is difficult, they may consult additional sources, such as medical documents and credit scores.

For simple and common types of insurance, such as automobile insurance, underwriters can typically rely on automated recommendations. For more specific and complex insurance types, such as workers’ compensation, underwriters need to rely more on their own analytical insight.

Underwriters analyze the risk factors appearing on an application. For instance, if an applicant reports a previous bankruptcy, the underwriter must determine whether that information is relevant to the policy being applied for. The underwriter would likely consider how far in the past the bankruptcy occurred and how the applicant’s financial situation has changed since the applicant filed for bankruptcy.

Insurance underwriters must achieve a balance between risky and cautious decisions. If underwriters allow too much risk, the insurance company will pay out too many claims. But if they don’t approve enough applications, the company will not make enough money from premiums.

Most insurance underwriters specialize in one of three broad fields: life, health, and property and casualty. Although the job duties in each field are similar, the criteria that underwriters use vary. For example, for someone seeking life insurance, underwriters consider the person’s age and financial history. For someone applying for car insurance (a form of property and casualty insurance), underwriters consider the person’s driving record.

Within the broad field of property and casualty, underwriters may specialize even further into commercial (business) insurance or personal insurance. They may also specialize by the type of policy, such as for automobiles, boats (marine insurance), or homes (homeowners’ insurance).

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of insurance underwriters? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
Underwriters must be able to evaluate information from a variety of sources and solve complex problems.
Decisionmaking skills
The core function of an underwriter is making decisions, such as whether to offer insurance coverage and at what level to set premiums.
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 <a href="/ooh/sales/insurance-sales-agents.htm"><u>insurance agents</u></a>.
Math skills
Determining the probability of losses on an insurance policy and calculating appropriate premiums require mathematical ability.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for insurance underwriters
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for insurance underwriters was higher than 76% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $69KAll jobs' median $39K$64K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for insurance underwriters are anticipated to shrink by 5%. over the next decade; 86% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for insurance underwriters is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000120,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most insurance underwriters? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as insurance underwriters. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Insurance Underwriters per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where insurance underwriters earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for insurance underwriters compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for insurance underwriters.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Insurance Underwriters (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which insurance underwriters earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Insurance underwriters (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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