How To Become an Escrow Officer in 8 Steps (Plus Salary)
An escrow officer is an important person in any real estate closing. They help make sure that the real estate transaction goes smoothly and act as an impartial third party to securely hold on to funds from purchasers. If you want to work in the real estate field in a more administrative position, you may consider a career as an escrow officer.
In this article, we explain what an escrow officer is and what they do, provide steps to becoming an escrow officer and discuss the national average salary for the position.
What is an escrow officer?
An escrow officer, or escrow agent, is someone who helps real estate buyers and real estate agents understand and work within the escrow process. An escrow officer is a person or company that holds and disburses funds, documents, or property in trust for another party. An escrow officer can also be called an "escrow agent."
Escrow officers work for escrow agencies, real estate firms, real estate attorneys and lending companies, and typically work normal business hours, although they may work late to complete a real estate closing.
What does an escrow officer do?
An escrow officer has several responsibilities, including:
Meeting with clients to explain the escrow process and answer questions
Ensuring both buyer and seller honor all terms of the contract
Holding money from real estate buyers in an escrow account
Verifying the receipt of all payments
Reviewing contracts to ensure they're clear and correct
Writing clear escrow instructions so clients know the steps they take to deposit their escrow
Providing settlement updates and estimates to real estate agents and clients
Making sure all sales and escrow documents are in compliance and meet lender requirements
Obtaining clients' signatures on escrow documents
Scheduling and preparing for closings
Approving the disbursement of escrow funds during closing
Providing all parties with an escrow balance statement
How to become an escrow officer
Follow these steps to become a successful escrow officer:
1. Earn a high school diploma
A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum education requirement for most employers that hire escrow officers. The licensure exam for escrow officers also sets this requirement. Being able to show that you've attended high school is important because of the minimum requirements for the position, but also because a high school education introduces you to foundational knowledge that can help you find success in your career. You learn basic math, English and computer skills, and may be able to take electives in communication, psychology and other subjects that can relate to being an escrow officer.
2. Get a college degree
Not all employers require that a candidate have an associate's or bachelor's degree, but some may, and in either case, having a relevant college degree can help you stand apart from the other candidates who're applying for the same position as an escrow officer. A degree may also create more opportunities for advancement and make earning a license easier. Consider reviewing some job listings for escrow officers to determine if there's a trend in what most employers require or prefer in their candidates. You may notice most employers list an associate's or bachelor's degree as a preferred qualification.
While you're in school, consider majoring in a topic like business, real estate, finance or a related field. You can take electives in information technology, business ethics, accounting and business management or other subjects that help you build knowledge to support your career.
3. Build your skill set
Some skills to develop to become a successful escrow officer include:
You can enhance your skills while you're in school, by volunteering, completing an internship or working other jobs before you start your career as an escrow officer.
4. Gain relevant experience
After graduation, consider applying for more entry-level positions in the field, like a real estate assistant or legal assistant for a real estate lawyer or accounting firm where you're responsible for balancing statements and managing a budget. You can even work as a receptionist, sales agent, customer representative or file clerk at an independent escrow firm which can introduce you to other people in the field and may be an employer with whom you can grow. If you have no prior experience in real estate or finance, gain as much knowledge as possible before entering the field.
5. Create your resume
You can share your skill set with hiring managers on your resume, within your cover letter and during an interview, so explore how you can build your skill set to appeal to an employer and show them why you're a good fit for the company's open position. You can also include your experiences and degrees on your resume, especially if you're about to apply for your first role as an escrow officer.
6. Apply for a state license
To work as an escrow officer in some states requires that you have the appropriate state-issued license. Licensure may require specific escrow training, a passing score on an exam and relevant work experience, so check with your state so you know what you do to excel in your career and be able to work in the position you're interested in. You may also complete a background check, process your fingerprints and pay a fee. Your licensure may also require good credit standing or a surety bond to protect your clients.
7. Obtain insurance
To become an escrow officer, you may obtain a surety bond, which is a kind of insurance that gives clients the ability to get their escrow funds back if there's a contract break or someone doesn't fulfill their obligations. Many employers that hire escrow officers require this insurance so they can provide their clients with confidence that the real estate transaction can go as smoothly as possible.
8. Become a notary public
While you may not be a notary public to work as an escrow officer, many hiring managers prefer it. Having the ability to notarize important documents, particularly in a real estate transaction, means you can assist in a greater capacity. If you're a notary public, it's another way to stand out from your competition when applying for positions.
Salary for escrow officers
The national average salary for escrow officers in the United States is $60,927 per year, although your geographical location can make a difference in your salary. For example, escrow officers in Detroit, Michigan, report making an average of $54,891, while those in Phoenix, Arizona, make an average of $65,100 per year. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
Common benefits that escrow officers receive from their employers include:
401(k) with employer matching
Flexible spending account
Employee stock purchase plan
Health savings account
Jobs similar to escrow officers
If you're interested in becoming an escrow officer or working in a related field, there are several job options you might consider. Here's a list of 10 jobs similar to escrow officers:
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